|Manufacturer: CH Products|
|Min OS X: Any Version Requires: USB Port|
Asking many casual gamers regarding the necessity of a separate throttle unit for flight sims will typically yield the answer, “What’s the point?” Most mid-range controllers today have a small built-in throttle control that offers acceptable control for the vast majority of casual gamers. Serious flight-sim enthusiasts, however, could not imagine easily controlling a virtual aircraft without a large, weighty, and versatile throttle unit.
Separate throttle units are more realistic and offer an additional platform on which controls, buttons, and hats can be mounted. Currently, only two advanced options are available for Macintosh gamers: the Saitek X36 and the CH Pro Throttle USB.
The CH Pro Throttle USB completes the ultra-high-end lineup from CH Products, and like the other advanced offerings, this throttle offers customers with a myriad of hats and other controls. This unmatched versatility can prove useful in increasingly complex flight sims, helping weekend air warriors exert the finest control over their complex aircraft without removing their hands from the crucial stick and throttle. In addition, the throttle carries the CH name, which to many Mac users means stability and outstanding compatibility. I took the time to examine if the CH Pro Throttle lives up to these lofty goals.
Out of the BoxThe CH Pro Throttle, although similar in appearance to the throttle unit on the Saitek X36, has a few distinct and very important differences. Firstly, when pushing or pulling the throttle across its range of motion, it slides, instead of arcing up like the majority of throttles on actual aircraft. This is awkward for gamers who are used to more comfortable parabolic motion, and in addition, makes it easier to accidentally slide the entire unit across the desk. In fact, I had to attach sticky pads to my unit, as the sliding was interfering too much with normal gameplay. Furthermore, the throttle has no idle or afterburner detents, meaning it slides uninterrupted throughout its entire stroke. Though minor, detents are another one of the features with which advanced gamers should be comfortable seeing on throttles.
Any good throttle does more than simply slide forward and back, of course, and the CH Pro Throttle has no lack of auxiliary functions. Gracing the surface of the unit are four hats, three buttons, and even a small joystick controlled by the thumb. Neighboring this thumb stick is the eight-way hat; useful for trim control or additional view management.
The three buttons would normally control which of three modes the throttle is currently using, indicated by three lights on the base of the device. However, on the Mac, these buttons offer no such functionality and serve only as standard buttons.
The Pro Throttle is a separate USB device, and doesn’t require any CH stick in order to operate. The upside of this is that it is compatible with any stick, regardless of manufacturer; however, it takes up one more precious USB port on one’s hub.