Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog

I have used many joysticks as a gaming enthusiast. Way back in 1986 when I got my first joystick, it only had two buttons and two digital axes. Since then I have used a number of joysticks which has given me several chances to test brands and their technologies. I am currently using the HOTAS or Hands on Throttle and Stick’ Warthog by Thrustmaster. It certainly does not cost less but is definitely worth every penny of its cost.

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The joystick and throttle quadrant are connected to the computer via a USB cable and their firmware can be upgraded. The manual explains the installation procedure which is easy and smooth. You do not need to bother about calibrating the joystick. It does not make use of potentiometers like old joysticks; instead it has a 3D magnetic sensor which detects the position of the axis.

Unlike old analog joysticks, HOTAS does not encounter reading errors or spikes. This is primarily because spikes are a problem of the potentiometer which gets worn out. Since there is no potentiometer used in this joystick and there is no friction, the longevity of the device is quite high. The installer tool known as TARGET or Thrustmaster Advanced Programming Graphical Editor is necessary if you want to make use of all the features that HOTAS has.

The look and feel of joystick is quite impressive. The body is almost entirely made of metal and it weighs nearly 14 pounds. The ergonomic handle has easily accessible buttons. Thrustmaster uses buttons with pressure similar to the A-10 aircraft and therefore requires more pressure to activate them. This gives you the actual feel of controlling a real Warthog.

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The Joystick:

The joystick has extremely smooth axes. I didn’t notice the notch while passing through the main axis in making half a deflection movement. Its five coil spring system gives it the fluid tension and linearity. Both the axes make use of a 16 bit resolution sensor.

The buttons:

· 1 x metal dual trigger

· 2 x 8-way hats

· 1 x 8-way point of view hat

· 4 x push buttons

· 1 x 4-way hat with push button

The metallic base is detachable which enables easy installation on a cockpit styled area.

The Throttle Levers:

Thrustmaster HOTAS has two throttle levers with many outstanding features. It has Hall Effect sensors and a 14 bit resolution which is quite impressive. The special detents with a lock system similar to the actual A-10 add to the realism.

There are many controls on the lever as well. They are:

· 1 x mouse hat with push button and 3D magnetic sensor (Hall Effect)

· 1 x 4-way hat with push button

· 1 x 3-position switch (2 momentary + 1 permanent)

· 1 x 8-way hat

· 1 x push button

· 1 x 3-position switch (1 momentary + 2 permanent)

· 2 x 3-position switches (3 permanent)

The lever operates smoothly and its intensity can be adjusted as per your preference. There is a small bar that holds both the levers together which comes in handy when you are flying an aircraft with a single engine.

Throttle Base:

My first reaction on connecting the throttle connector was “Wow, there is a backlight to illuminate labels!” The illumination can be adjusted as per your preference and can also be turned off.

Controls on throttle base:

· 5 x 2-position switches (2 permanent)

· 1 x TRIM wheel

· 2 x 3-position switches (3 permanent)

· 2 x 3-position switches (1 momentary + 2 permanent)

· 5 programmable LEDs.

TARGET software:

As already mentioned, TARGET software is a must if you want to make use of all the features of HOTAS Warthog.

The basic configuration of the software is a piece of cake. All that you need to do is select the button on the joystick and the keystroke of your choice. Advanced mode enables you to multiplex buttons depending on the position of the switch which is particularly useful when used in a complex combat flight simulator.

The scripting mode has limitless possibilities. It makes use of a language similar with C and allows complex configurations as well. You can carry out conditional configurations or twist the X-Y with the angle of your choice. All configurations carried out are saved in the profile files.

Verdict:

The HOTAS Warthog seems to be a perfect joystick with highly customizable features. With a price tag of $320, it is highly recommended for all hardcore flight simulator enthusiasts.

Pros:

1. Excellent construction quality and realistic feel.

2. Several buttons, switches and axis available.

3. Infinite programming possibilities with configuration tool.

4. TARGET software provides control like no other stick.

5. No wear and tear or loosening even during intense moments.

Cons:

1. The throttle is heavy so you need to make sure you are operating on a stable surface.

2. Most of the switches come into play only during specific games limiting the use of the stick.

3. The virtual joystick does not allow addition of external rudder pedals.

4. Throttle levers are not in full metal.

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