Thrustmaster Introduces Xbox One Compatible TMX Wheel

Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2016 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: Thrustmaster, TMX, T300, tx f458, force feedback, wheels, racing pedals, DiRT Rally, project cars, Assetto Corsa, xbox one

Some months ago I had the chance to review the PS3/4 and PC compatible Thrustmaster T150.  This turned out to be a solid little wheel with full functionality that would not break the bank.  The force feedback was not as strong or as nuanced as what I had found with the higher end TX F458 and T300 products, but it provided a wholly satisfactory experience that was around one half the price of the higher end products.
 
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Something missing from the lineup was a budget/entry level product for the Xbox One.  The TX F458 provides support for that platform, but it is anywhere from $300 to $400 US in price.  Essentially the same price as the console itself.  This comes at a pretty good time as a whole slew of racing games are being released on consoles these days (or soon).  Products such as DiRT Rally, Project Cars, and the upcoming console release of Assetto Corsa have injected new life into racing titles on consoles.  Add in Microsoft's continued development of the Forza series, console users have a good excuse to purchase racing inspired gear for their products.
 
In speaking with the DiRT developers, they admitted that they have to adjust the difficulty of the games to make them playable on game pads.  This makes sense as there are not nearly enough degrees of movement from either a turning or throttle/braking standpoint.  There is maybe a 30 degree movement in total with the thumbpads as well as not very many gradiations when using the triggers on the gamepad for braking and throttle control.  To get the most out of racing games a wheel is very necessary.  It provides the accuracy needed to drive very fast without the application helping a user out by decreasing the realism of the driving experience.
 
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The Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback wheel is very similar in build and size to the earlier T150.  The primary differences are of course the Xbox One compatibility as well as a 900 degree rotation.  The T150 had the full 1080 degrees, but it seems like the 900 number is a hard limit on the Xbox.  The wheel can be programmed to handle rotations as low as 270 degrees as well as up to 900.  It is a hybrid pulley/geared unit with solid force feedback strength.  It features a metal axle and metal ball bearings so the wear will be minimal over the lifetime of the product.  It also features the same 12 bit optical tracking mechanism that the T150 utilizes that gives 4096 values for each 360 degrees of rotation of the wheel.
 
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No specialty drivers or software are needed for use with the Xbox One, but drivers are needed for the PC.  The firmware in the wheel contains all the necessary software to run successfully on the Xbox One, so it is simply plug and play for that platform.  The wheel comes with the wide 2 pedal unit which also allows users to remove the pads and adjust their position to their own liking.  The paddle shifters are also made of metal so that they will not break after extended use and wear.  While the actual wheel itself cannot be swapped out like with the TX and T300 bases, the TMX does support the Thrustmaster ecosystem of add-in parts.  It is compatible with the T3PA and T3PA-Pro bedals and the TH8A manual shifter (that can also be configured as a sequential shifter).
 
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$199.99 is not inexpensive, but it is a reasonable price for a product of this nature.  It looks to be a very good introductory wheel of the Xbox One platform that will last years.  It could also act as a gateway drug to more expensive purchases in the future, such as the pro pedals, a new base, and a fancy Alcantara based wheel.  The TMX should be available by next month at major retailers around the world.
Source: Thrustmaster

Logitech Announces the G29 and G920 Racing Wheels

Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2015 - 04:00 AM |
Tagged: stainless steel, racing wheel, racing pedals, racing h-gear shifter, logitech, leather, G920, G29, G27, force feedback, aluminum

PC peripherals are a fickle market for companies.  Some products get replaced and updated in a very short period of time, while others remain relatively stable and the product line lasts for years.  Logitech has laid claim to one of the longest serving products in the peripheral field with the G27 racing wheel.  This product has proven to be a popular accessory for those wishing to race on a variety of platforms with a clutch, stick shift, and a force feedback wheel.  For the time it was a rather expensive part that reached the $400 mark at introduction, but has eased down to the mid-$250US range.  Five years is a long time for such a product, but the overall design and quality of the G27 has insured its place as one of the better buys of this decade.

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The G29 has a unique layout of buttons, d-pad, and a 35 position rotary knob.

Time passes and all things must change.  The G27 has lost some of its luster as compared to some of the latest products from Thrustmaster and Fanatec.  We are now in the midst of a resurgence of racing titles from a variety of sources, some of which are emerging from relatively unknown developers and veteran studios alike.  Assetto Corsa, Project Cars, DiRT Rally, and F1 2015 plus a variety of paid and F2P titles are vying for racer’s attention in this very verdant environment of software titles.  We must also not forget the new marketplace opened up by the PS4 and Xbox One.  Logitech, in their quest to gain the hearts and loyalties of gamers has renewed their push into this marketplace with a variety of Gaming products.  Today we get our first look at the two latest entries from Logitech into the racing wheel world.

Today Logitech is announcing their latest two editions to the high end racing accessory market.  The G29 has been leaked and covered, but the G920 is a new revelation to the world.  The G29 is aimed at the PS3 and PS4 market and will be available for purchase in early July of this year.  The G920 is the Xbox One and PC model that will be released this Fall.  The models differ with their button layout, but they are both based on a lot of the same technology that powers the force feedback experience in modern racing games.

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The pedals are not as colorful as the G27 (it had red accents), but it looks nearly identical to the older part.  Stainless steel pedals plus a clutch.

The base unit features a dual motor design with helical gears rather than belt driven.  The helical gears should result in less backlash as compared to a belt design which can stretch and distort the feeling of the wheel.  The shaft of the wheel features solid stainless steel bearings so that wear and tear should be kept to a minimum.  The shifters and pedals are also made of stainless steel so that these high-wear parts will work for years without issue.

The wheel itself is made of hand-stitched leather over a plastic and aluminum framing.  The wheel also features a LED light rev indicator that reports to users when to shift at redline.  The clamping system allows the wheel to be used on desks as well as driving stations through either a clamp or bolts.  The three pedal stand is of a decent weight and of course features a clutch pedal that many competing products do not have.

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The G920 is a bit more minimalist in terms of button layout.  This wheel does not feature the rev/shift LEDs that the G29 has, and this is due to how the consoles address hardware.  Apparently it is just not feasible for the XBox One to do this.

The G29 and G920 differ in their button layout, but both feature the three pedal set and paddle shift setup.  As compared to competing products from Thrustmaster and Fanatec at this price point, there is no ability to swap out wheels with the base unit.  For example both Thrustmaster and Fanatec offer a variety of wheels that can be interchanged with the hub with the gearing and force feedback hardware.  Both of those companies have a great amount of flexibility with accessories that can be swapped in and out.  This of course comes with a significant price.  The competing Thrustmaster set has F1 and other wheels that cost anywhere from $150 to $250, while Fanatec will allow a user to customize their setup for the low, low price of $1,000US plus.

The G29 and G920 include the wheel and three pedal setup as stock at $399.99.  If a user wants to include a 6-speed manual shifter, then it will cost an extra $59.99US.  That particular product is configured as an H pattern shifter, but it is not included in the base package for the G29 or G920.

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The G920 pedals are essentially identical to the G29 unit.

It is great to see the G29 available in an early July timeframe, but it is slightly disappointing that the G920 will not hit the market until this Fall.  As a die-hard PC gamer it will be a few months before I can get hands on the G920 and put it through its paces.  The racing wheel market is not overly large as most users rely on gamepads, joysticks, and keyboards for their racing needs.  As such, we do not see refreshes on a regular basis as compared to keyboards, mice, and other devices.  It is great to see Logitech addressing this market with new products that bring new features.

Edit: According to the Logitech website, the G29 CAN be used with a PC as long as the users has the Logitech Gaming software installed.

Source: Logitech