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Manufacturer: Macsense
Min OS X: Not Supported    Requires: USB Port

FunStick Pro F-108
February 20, 2002 | Tim Morgan

Flight simulators have traditionally appealed to a wide variety of customers. Hard-core players have always demanded the absolute in realism, fidelity, and technical accuracy. On the other end of the spectrum, however, reside the after-work aviators who are quite willing to devote the majority of their time to something other than following the tadpole across the HUD ó things such as their families, careers, food, and other equally perplexing distractions. Gamers such as these will easily become overwhelmed with the complexity of high-end HOTAS systems, and even if they can swallow that, the prices will certainly induce the gag reflex.

To meet this demand, MacSense offers two joysticks as part of their ďFunStickĒ line: the F-106 iFunStick and the F-108 FunStick Pro. There are only a few minor differences between the two sticks, but seeing as the F-106 is no longer shipping, emphasis will be placed on the F-108.

First Impressions
Both the F-106 and F-108 are designed from a striking blue transparent plastic, reminiscent of the original iMac. Both joysticks have a trigger, three buttons, a hat switch, a throttle control, and horizontal and vertical trim controls. The F-108 also includes a rudder dial and a column very eye-catching LEDís that indicate the position of the throttle.

The sticks sit atop compact bases that could easily fit on cramped desks. Connectivity is provided by a single USB cable about three feet long. Beneath the base are four suction cups to keep the joystick from moving. (They worked with limited success in this respect.)

MacSense claims it designed the F-108 after the look and feel of the F/A-18 Hornetís FLCS (flight control system) ó I canít speak for the feel of the F/A-18 joystick, but they bear almost no visual resemblance. (You may relax knowing that Americaís Hornet pilots are not defending the country with bright blue joysticks.) Even though they may look childish, they feel professional: each stick has adequate tension for a satisfying feel when moving it about its axes.

Unfortunately, the throttle on the F-108 is placed inconveniently; using it with a second hand when its cramped so close to the stick is uncomfortable after periods of time; furthermore, it makes it difficult to switch between the keyboard and the throttle wheel. Placing the throttle wheel on the column itself so it could be operated by the right hand would have left the left hand free for keyboard or mouse manipulation. However, it gets worse with the F-106: the throttle is merely an inconspicuous dial on the side of the joystick, where it fits snugly and inaccessibly against the side of the keyboard. The throttle has too much tension for its size; altering it is unnaturally tedious.

The rudder dial on the F-108, for whatever reason, lacks a clearly defined centerpoint. The dial does not snap back to the center position, nor does it have a detent to demarcate a center rudder position. Itís quite content to stay wherever one leaves it, which is very counterintuitive. The dial would be much better suited to a number of functions such as trim or mixture controls, but these concepts may be out of the scope of the target audience.


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