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Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel Review

Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel Review

Concept cars and designer freedom

Times are not as grey as they were some quarter of a century ago for a number of European countries and overall. Today you are free to go and chase your dreams the way you'd like and where you'd like to. You can wear a beard, you can pierce your ears, there's freedom to rock and freedom to talk (Alice Cooper). Our existence is further-coloured and lightened by high technologies and their implementation in everyday life. You can also draw, paint or sculpture almost anything freely and make an exhibition. Despite of all this, practicality naturally wins over abstractness and actual freedom. Abstract as it may sound, if you concentrate on the automobile industry you'd rapidly reach to the following conclusions. First, many of the modern-day cars like the latest, recently facelifted Ford Fiesta or the new Renault Clio would have looked like they've come from a different planet if you got the chance to drive them back in the late 1970's, among Fiesta generation one, Renault 5 or the fascinating Peugeot 504. Second, the more you look at the Fiesta, the more similarities to the latest generation of Focus you'll find. Same is with most other B and C-segmented cars. Owing to universality that we've discussed in the Thrustmaster 5 in Universal Challenge Racing Wheel review, many of the cars look alike. It is practical and pragmatic. Talented designers are given almost infinite freedom to draw, even build avant-garde vehicles...which remain concept cars. Notable examples are Peugeot 607 Feline (in 2000, most of us still remember all the noise, the posters worldwide, the permanent search for hi-resolution screensavers), Range Stormer in 2004 and many, many more. It's a sweet lie when such a masterpiece is unveiled, you get to see it live and regardless of the number of approving reviews published and encouraging attention given. Regardless of the requests of current owners of same-branded cars willing to be future owners, the company claims that they will soon start producing it in a rather similar form. And that's as far as they go. Later on they release a model which is advertised to be based on this concept but all they really have in common is the fact they're both made of metal and they both have four wheels. There's a marketing explanation for the latter of course. Still, it's sad that so many of these rides never reach the conveyer.

Revealing the Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel

Revealing the Xbox 360 Wireless Speed WheelThere's a common element between the aforementioned and the mass-produced steering wheels for gaming platforms. Most of them, especially in coinciding price-range are quite alike, too. They're all circular - the standard shape of an actual car steering wheel, they rotate around a cut-sized semi-dashboard resembling actual cars', etc. True, they do differ by characteristics. It's not the same trying to win an intense online championship in Gran Turismo 5 using the classic Thrustmaster RGT FFB Clutch, the well-known Logitech G27, or the top T500 RS extended by the TH8 RS transmission. No 270-degrees rotation can be compared to the 1080-degrees of the T500 RS, and no plastic toy-like 6-speed gearbox can be compared to the 8-speed H-pattern and sequential in one TH8 RS gearbox. Same is with lower-segmented Xbox 360 wheels - Thrustmaster Ferrari 458 Italia with its Manettino dial and large positive-click shifting paddles and the entry Mad Catz MC2 racing wheel. It may be so, there are differences in materials, size etc. But they are all wheels. Not that it's bad, yet they do resemble each other a good deal, especially if belonging to the same class. They provide you with gear changing paddles, brake and throttle (and a clutch on more improved models) and all the ordinary components. We like this, just like most of our readers who have fuel in their veins will. Sometimes you just need to avoid the cliché by all means. So, saying that you're not that much of a sim racing addict, you lack the time or desire to play that many hours a week and most importantly you'd love to have a steering wheel with character of its own, what should you do? Is there such a PC, an Xbox 360 or a PS3 wheel? There are a couple of answers here (one is the T500 RS we've mentioned). If we stick to the Xbox 360 wheel part and entry-level budget, there's the shining, unique in the full sense, Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel by the not-that-innovative-lately Microsoft. It looks like being stolen from a classic airplane's cabin, it pretends to be modern with prompt-reacting motion sensors and no-lag wireless support. It's also in the price-range of entry-level Thrustmaster wheels and Logitech wheels. Is it really worth getting it though or is it some kind of pretentious, well-advertised attempt of low-quality rivalry by Microsoft? Let's check

Wireless Speed Wheel - layout. Brief comparison with TM Ferrari 458 Cockpit. Key advantages and minor flaws

Stating that Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel's lightweight is probably unnecessary as it is evident from any kind of pictures of it you've seen so far. Yes, it is not heavier than the standard Xbox 360 controller. It ships with two AA batteries which you should insert in the battery compartment at its base (the base of the U-shape, to be more accurate). Take in mind that no rechargeable batteries are supported. There's an installation disc for your Xbox 360 console included, but if you've connected it to the Internet you won't need it, hence all the updates related to the wheel are already waiting for you for some time. It is an Xbox 360 wheel only, by the way, so even if you have the Xbox 360 wireless receiver and connect it to your PC, you'll lack a good deal of its accurateness and preciseness. Expectedly, you have all the customary MS Xbox 360 buttons. What you lack and definitely is a reason for criticism not having it on an officially-certified and Microsoft-produced controller is the fact no LB/RB bumpers are present. Because of this, browsing through in-game menus in games like Forza Motorsport 4 is no picnic. A further downside is the omission of a headset jack. You have such on Ferrari Vibration GT Cockpit 458 Italia by Thrustmaster, (a good semi driving simulator suggestion) as well as on at least a few other non-Microsoft steering wheel sets. Probably most of the players wouldn't have used it either way, since attaching a wired headset with microphone to the wireless open-air design of Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel would restrict its mobility. Still, such an option should have been provided for the rest of us, who would've at least gave it a shot. Both the triggers are bigger than these on the regular MS Xbox 360 controller and they have a longer and lighter throw that enables improved brake control and acceleration. As long as you're aware what to expect and you get some practice with this extraordinary steering wheel controller, the Wireless Speed Wheel will be quite fun playing.

Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel in game performance

Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel in game performanceNo matter how comprehensively you search through the Thrustmaster, the Logitech or the Mad Catz product lines, it's just the Nintendo Official Wii Wheel which is not only wireless but has no physical axis and uses motion sensors to detect your moves. Whereas the Wii wheel, though a wheel is hardly targeted to any grown-up racers opposing the Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel to it, or to the Kinect device, is like comparing apples and oranges. The Speed Wheel is a whole lot more precise and responsive. These qualities are further enhanced if you play an advanced wheel settings-enabled game. Such are: Colin McRae Dirt 3, F1 2011 (and F1 2012), Race Driver: Grid, Forza Motorsport 3 and Forza Motorsport 4, the recently released and stunningly-detailed Forza Horizon and others. You can fully customize deadzone and linearity, remap the buttons, etc. in these, in order to have an ideally-customized wheel. Full remapping is also allowed in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (a great fun using this very wheel for it) and Need for Speed: Shift 2. And other games, we didn't get the chance to load this time. Like mentioned above, the triggers are very sensitive. They reminded us of the two extra analog gear changing paddles on the evergreen Thrustmaster RGT FFB Clutch. The more you pull, the more the gas you apply. The full versus zero throttle issue digital paddles have, as if by a miracle is not present! Okay, the latter may not impress you that much but it'll surely be appreciated by any old school gamer (not necessarily over the age of 25 but likely) you know. Other than that, of course, the Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel can't really outperform an actual steering wheel set in simulators and racers. There are no pedals or paddles, but it delivers a good deal of specific pure joy, you just need to test it, the lame this may sound written in a review. Yet, do test it yourself and you'll be fascinated. The light rumble shouldn't be compared to force feedback, not even the well-balanced vibration a Ferrari 458 Cockpit can offer. For the price, it's nice having it for sure. It's adjustable and it can be set to be slightly stronger than the one standard controllers offer. Using accelerometers to detect motions in all directions which it does with zero lag, if flight-simulator compatibility is ever enabled, sales of this Microsoft's avant-garde piece of hi-tech equipment will double. Finally, two nice details you can't omit when playing a Forza-series game. First, the cockpit camera view at last becomes fully-usable. Because of the instant reaction provided your cars' driving wheel will turn one to one, as your Wireless Speed Wheel. Last but not least, the greenish lights on the top of the handles blink when it's time to change a gear. The light is very dim in the lower RPM's and gradually becomes more and more visible. Awesome!

Wireless Speed Wheel - flaw and suggested solution. OpenWheeler game seat

Wireless Speed Wheel - flaw and suggested solutionThe main flaw Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel has is directly related to its unique shape. If you use it to play while sitting on your couch, you will get tired quickly holding the wheel in front of you in the air. There's no way to mount it on a game seat as there's no axis or a cut-sized dashboard part to do so. Sitting in a gaming seat, however is recommended, so that you don't tilt too much on any side, preserving you from any unwanted harm. An ergonomic gaming seat like the OpenWheeler will do so, without restricting any of your shoulder movements unlike a recliner. And it'll make you feel like you're in a racing car unlike your coach. It's covered with long-wearing 100% polyester and its built on a metal frame chassis. If you've obtained the Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel because you don't have enough space to have a racing chair in your room all the time, please consider that the OpenWheeler gaming seat is fully foldable and you can store it in a wardrobe or under your bed any time you're not using it. Any time you are, you'll get the spirit of any simulator or arcade car racing game you play.


Summarizing the Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel, we believe that's worth obtaining. It may be incomparable to exclusive range selection, even to some mid-range steering wheel sets. However, it has ideal responsiveness, quick functioning motion sensors and a few other nice extras. It's just like you're in an amalgam of a futuristic and fantasy novel using it. The sense you'll get is not simply satisfactory in terms of racing, it's just different. It's a must-have addition even if you already own other wheels, as it won't be offered forever. Yet, you'll always smile having such an extraordinary and fully capable item in your collection in some fifteen years time.

OpenWheeler racing seat price

The OpenWheeler gaming seat can be ordered for the total price of £270. Next business day shipping within the boundaries of the United Kingdom is provided for free. Also the 20% UK-VAT is included. OpenWheeler is a reasonable long-term investment in your video game racing career whatever the rest of the components are.


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