So, we’re not talking about a completely wireless solution here, but what you are losing is a trailing cable running across the length of your living room, which is pretty commendable in my book. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that myself, my wife or numerous friends have tripped over the AV or controller cables from older consoles.
As well as offering wireless connectivity to the console, this wheel is also very well built and easy to setup. Anyone who’s had to clamp a steering wheel to a desk will lament having to tighten up screws to the point of breaking, just to make sure that the wheel doesn’t move about mid race. But Microsoft’s table clamp is a masterpiece of design and function. For a start, the clamp is separate to the wheel itself, allowing you to easily clip the wheel in and out, while leaving the clamp attached to the table. Also, despite the fact that there is still a degree of screw twisting involved, there’s also a pressure clamp located at the front – you tighten the screw as far as possible without breaking your fingers, then just engage the pressure clamp. The result is a very solid connection to your table or desk, without a hint of movement, no matter how ham fisted you are around the Nordschleife!
Don’t despair if you don’t have a desk or table to clamp the wheel to though, since it has also been designed to be used on your lap. The base of the steering wheel unit is wide and rounded at the sides so that it fits over your lap comfortably. Obviously having the wheel on your lap detracts from the realism – it’s too low down for a start and if you get a little overexcited it’s all too easy to move the whole unit around. That said, it’s still completely usable on your lap, which is more than can be said for a lot of other wheels.
The wheel itself looks and feels great. Two thirds of the wheel is covered in a tactile rubberised finish, while the bottom third is finished in brushed aluminium. The bottom of the wheel is also flat, just like it would be in a real racing car. Obviously this is a bit of a gimmick, since you’re not having to squeeze into a tight cockpit as you would in a real racing car, but that hasn’t stopped VW and Audi putting flat bottomed wheels in the Golf GTi, TT and RS4!