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FlightSimulationGuru.com reviews the Saitex X52 Pro Flight Control System with FSX. This accessory is a great addition for anyone looking to take their home flight simulation experience to the next level. Video credit: FlightSimulationGuru.com (YouTube).
Today at FlightSimulationGuru.com, we're going to take a look at the Saitek X52 PRO flight stick and throttle set, and it's used with Microsoft Flight Simulator version 10. The X52 system comes as a paired unit of the flight stick and throttle control. As an added feature, the throttle control also features a multifunction display, which we will discuss in more detail shortly.
The flight stick connects to the throttle control using a proprietary connector. The throttle control then connects to your system using a USB cable. Setup of the system with Microsoft Flight Simulator was straightforward and only involved running a simple setup utility. One of the advantages of the X52 system is the abundance of buttons, switches, and sliders that can be assigned to any task to meet your needs within the simulator.
Let's take a quick tour around the controls to see the range of inputs available. The front base of the flight stick contains three momentary toggle switches that can be moved up or down. The thumb controls on the flight stick feature two multidirectional top pads, one at the base and one on the top left, in addition to three standard push buttons. Although it's not particularly useful with most applications of Microsoft Flight Simulator, one of the coolest features of the flight stick is the protected weapons fire button. A red safety switch with a green safe indicator covers the central fire button, which upon clicking up the safety with the thumb, switches color to glow red. Another unique feature is the silver rotating mode switch. This allows the user to switch between three different modes of switch settings. Therefore, each switch on the setup can be assigned to up to three different functions within the simulator. The LED adjacent to the mode switch changes color between red, purple, and blue to indicate the current mode. The mode number is also displayed on the LED screen of the throttle control. The remaining buttons on the throttle stick feature a standard index finger switch and a switch for the pinky finger at the base of the stick.
Now, let's take a closer look at the throttle control. The primary throttle consists of a large sliding control with a handle that fits comfortably into the palm of the hand. The control moves between zero and 100% power with momentary resistance points at approximately 25% and 75% power. When the throttle is moved past the 75% point, the LEDs on the intensity indicator turn red. The side of the throttle control contains several inputs designed to be operated with the left thumb. These controls include a small mouse track stick button and click input that allows for the controlling of the mouse without removing your hands from the controls. The top of the throttle also contain several inputs designed to be used with the left thumb. These include a small sliding control, rotated control, and two push buttons. Two final inputs are located on the back of the throttle control and include another multidirectional top pad and a vertical rotating dial.
However, probably the most exciting feature of the X52 PRO system is the illuminated multifunction LED display on the base of the throttle control. This display is controlled using a series of inputs located on the front right base of the throttle. When used in conjunction with Microsoft Flight Simulator, the LED display can be used to input and monitor common parameters into the simulator, including radio controls, the ADF, DME, autopilot, and transponder code. Additional software is provided with X52 system to allow for custom programming of the display, although reports suggest that this is not always a straightforward task.
In conclusion, overall, I'm very impressed with X52 PRO system. The setup offers an extensive array of buttons and controls. It seems unlikely that the average user would come anywhere near using the full capacity of the system's inputs, especially across the three different modes offered for each button. However, the extended flexibility is a quality feature that allows for users to tailor the controls for their own custom needs. By far, the most impressive aspect of the X52 PRO is the multifunction display. This setup introduces the first reasonably priced external display and input system for consumer great flight simulators. Although the inputs and display lack any resemblance to actual aircraft systems, the ability to separate simulation inputs from the traditional keyboard and mouse team would be greatly appreciated by anyone who purchases the X52 PRO.
My only primary criticisms of the setup are that the flight stick movement may be a bit too loose for some users' personal preference, and there's no ability to adjust the tension on the movement. However, apart from this, the overall feel of the setup is very solid. Also, the USB cable for the flight stick is a bit on the short side, which may be an annoyance, depending on where your computer is located relative to your desktop. Finally the system features a flight stick versus the more traditional flight yoke. Therefore, strictly speaking, the system would only be appropriate for modern military jets or modern [inaudible 00:05:12] aircraft. However, the choice between a flight stick and a flight yoke ultimately comes down to the individual user's preference. The X52 is an impressive accessory, and I give it an eight out of ten rating.
For more exciting flight simulation discussion and the chronicles of building a home flight simulation setup, be sure to visit FlightSimulationGuru.com.