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

SideWinder Precision 2
March 27, 2002 | Tim Morgan

Microsoft has always been a controversial name among Mac users, and with the release of Halo for the X-Box, its name has gained new fame and new notoriety. Many armchair pilots may not purchase this joystick simply because of the name painted on the base; others could care less who manufactures it, as long as it performs.

Personally, I have never held much more than a little adversity to the “Evil Empire,” and issues with their software aside, Mac gamers have rarely complained about their hardware offerings. The Microsoft label doesn’t have the same prestige in the HOTAS industry as familiar names such as Thrustmaster and CH Products, so it will be interesting to see how the SideWider Precision 2 handles as a low-cost, midrange controller.

The Hands-On Experience
The SideWinder Precision 2 is a very large joystick. Its size belies its functionality — it has a wider base than many top-of-the-line FLCS systems. The shape is awkward, too: its base is elliptical, which doesn’t snug well against the edges of my keyboard and mouse pad. Finally, the very large base pushes the mouse a good distance away, making it more awkward to use the mouse normally.

The control column offers satisfying resistance to movement, turning what would otherwise be uncontrolled, jerky spasms into smooth, coordinated maneuvers. Not that the SideWinder will turn your accidental high-speed stalls into picture-perfect snap rolls, of course, but it reduces fatigue during long periods of performance at the edge of the envelope.

The SideWinder Precision 2 has a very sleek appearance, almost as if it were designed in a wind tunnel. A very large and comfortable trigger envelops most of the rear of the column. On the other side of the stick is a stylish 8-way hat switch with a unique feel. Beneath the hat are two thumb buttons and a very interesting button designed to be pressed by the base of one’s thumb. This is actually a clever idea — the player can press this third button without removing his thumb from the hat or the other two buttons. Unfortunately, it’s not one-size-fits-all: I had to bend my thumb just a bit to be able to press the button. Repeated use became awkward.

On the base of the stick is a throttle wheel of respectable size in front of four auxiliary buttons. The throttle wheel has a sizeable handle making it easy to operate. Unfortunately, it lacks any detents, which may or may not be of importance to potential buyers. The four buttons help reduce the number of times the player would have to remove his left hand from the throttle to use the keyboard.

Unique among Mac joysticks is the SideWinder’s twist-grip. The joystick can be twisted left or right, offering a third control axis, whose logical use would be rudder control.


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