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Hardware Review: Saitek’s Heavy Equipment Precision Control System for Farming Simulator 15 Gold Edition (PC)

Hardware Review: Saitek’s Heavy Equipment Precision Control System for Farming Simulator 15 Gold Edition (PC)
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Game Name: Saitek Heavy Equipment Precision Control System
Platforms: PC/Mac
Publisher(s): Saitek
Developer(s): Saitek
Genre(s): Simulator
Release Date: November 9th 2015

Simulation games have been very popular with people since the release of the first flight simulator many years ago.  Since then, simulator games have increased their reach into other areas, beyond the flight simulators.  Today we have train simulators, construction simulators, building simulators and even farming simulators.  Now you while you can play simulators with a keyboard and mouse, or just a game controller, there is a lack of realism that most people enjoy when playing these simulators.  Saitek came to the rescue with their Heavy Equipment Precision Control System for Farming Simulator 15 Gold Edition.

Saitek’s Heavy Equipment Precision Control System is kit system which includes 3 parts.  Included you get a steering control wheel, complete with a steering knob (just like a real wheel), foot pedals for forward/reverse/brake and a side control panel, with 25 programmable buttons, including a control stick.  The Wheel & Control panel can be clamped to your desk/work surface with ease, and the pedals have a long cord to reach under your desk for your feet to go on.  Lets look at each component in more detail.

Pedals20151109_175515

Anyone who’s used a racing wheel knows about the pedals, and how great it is for acceleration/braking control.  These pedals are complete with 2 different sized pedals, one for brake, one for acceleration.  The feedback you get from these is great, with a little spring resistance as you press them down with your foot.  There is an included fold out heel plate to allow for greater foot stability if you require it.  The pedals contain raised textures for grip of your foot.  The pedals are comfortable on your feet, even if you are not wearing shoes.  The base has 4 rubberized feet to ensure the pedals don’t move no matter what surface it is sitting on (carpet/floor).  The cord for the pedals is 5ft long, and has a RJ11 (telephone style) connector on one end which connects into the right side of the steering wheel.  For the price of this unit, I would have liked to see a little more of a robust cable & connector.  Over time I fear the connector tab would break and then the pedal connector could slip out from the steering wheel.  A fabric braided cable is common on all higher end PC peripherals like mice and keyboards, and it would have been a nice touch to increase the longevity of the device.

Precision Control Wheel

20151109_175903The Precision Control Wheel has a solid base with a large cut out & screw clamp on the bottom in order for you to securely attach it to a desk or other surface.  The clamp and the underside of the cut out are padded to prevent any slippage and scratches forming on your surface. The wheel is plastic with a movable steering ball at the top.  This ball can be relocated to another place on the wheel if you so wish.  The wheel has 3 braces along the inside just like a normal steering wheel, and the left and right ones each contain a 4-directional pad, an analog thumbstick, and a trigger button on the underside, and in the center is a button for the horn. The wheel has a spring ‘bounce back’ feature to recenter it when the wheel is let go.  On the right side of the base is a 5ft USB cord and there is a RJ11 receptacle for the pedals to be connected.  The buttons all  have a good feel to them, and you can tell when they are pressed.  The analog thumbsticks feel good with a nice rubberized top for your thumb. When pressed the thumbsticks have a good click sound.  It is slightly awkward to use the thumbsticks in a controller sense, but being a wheel simulator control, you shouldn’t be using these for much other than selecting options and settings.  Again, I wish the USB cord was fabric braided, and I wish a different type of connector was used for the pedals to increase the longevity.

The Side Controls Panel20151109_175740

The side panel is fairly large with a similar cutout in the base with a clamp for securing to your desk/surface as the wheel.  It has the same rubberized pads to protect the surface also.  There are 25 buttons on the control panel, along with a joystick, and a scroll wheel.  The buttons all are plastic and have a decent amount of movement when pressed, and have a nice audible click sound to them.  The for toggle type buttons on the mid-right side have a slightly less quality feel to them.  They should have been made using a more actual toggle type in order to be of better quality.  In using the Farming Simulator game, these 4 toggles were used quite extensively, and I feel that they would break easier than the other buttons.  There are enough buttons on the control panel to cover pretty much any function of the heavy equipment you are driving.  There are buttons for headlights, turn signals, hazard lights, and slow traffic warning beacons.  The joystick is used to operate the front-end loaders and has a great range of movement and feel to it.  The base has a 5ft USB cable to plug into your PC.  Again, this cord is not fabric braided, which I think it should be.

Conclusion

20151123_195737

RJ11 Connector on the side of the Wheel

Overall, the Saitek Heavy Equipment Precision Control System is a great all-in-one unit for Farm Simulator 15. It brings in a large level of immersion into the game, and allows you to precisely control any of the heavy equipment used in the game.  I liked the fact that all the buttons on the side control panel contain small touches like the headlights and hazard lights.  I do wish there was a little more quality to the device since it does come with a higher price tag.  Small features like braided USB cables and a rubberized steering wheel would go a long way into the premium feel of this. A better connector for the pedals would also be good, as a plastic RJ11 type connector is prone to having the locking tab break. Priced at $300USD this unit does have a high cost, and in the end, for any die-hard simulator fans, this is a great addition to your gaming setup.  I do wish for that price this unit would include a free copy of Farming Simulator 15.  This unit deserves a 4 out of 5 due to the amount of functionality of the control panel and steering wheel, but I am giving it a 3 out of 5 due to the small additional changes that would increase the quality and premium feel of this unit.

20151123_195549

Wheel and Control panel mounted on a desk

Pro’s

  • Lots of buttons
  • Great feedback of the control wheel and side control panel
  • Rubberized mounting clamp to not damage your work surface/desk

Con’s

  • Price is high
  • Some buttons/toggles feel cheap
  • No quality enhancements like braided USB cables
  • RJ11 connector for pedals is very breakable
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