I wish my choice was clear, but there seem to be pros and cons to each. I'm having a real hard time deciding what to buy. I've had each of these solutions in my shopping cart and was unable to pull the trigger.
I'm a relative newbie to FSX.. coming up on a year since I began. I'm partial to fighters, though I do fly a variety of aircraft (see the profile for details) so I really want a general purpose solution. I started with a low end Thrustmaster T-flight HOTAS mated with Saitek pedals. The HOTAS has served me well enough, but I want to move up to something more serious. I've poured over the reviews and forum remarks and it appears that the short list is:
Saitek x52 Pro - $145
CH Products Fighterstick & Pro Throttle - $285
Thrustmaster Warthog - $530
(prices are best I could find currently and delivered into my Canadian hands)
Notably, each step represents a approximate doubling in cost. And although cost is not a huge issue, I like to realize value when I can.
If the Saitek x52 pro could satisfy my needs, I'd happily save a bundle in the process. It looks quite slick, feature rich and has a lot of fans. However, there are many conflicting reports regarding quality and longevity of this product. Apparently it lacks precision and 'needs' a warranty violating magnet mod to be a contender. The software (drivers and configuration tools) and support from Madcatz also get's badly knocked by some (and are these concerns applicable to FSX?).
The Warthog is clearly the 'no compromise' solution. Quality and feel, support etc. are there. Probably my main concern with this product is that is so darn specific to the A10 with the aircraft specific switches and labels that I wonder how well it will serve as a general purpose controller in FSX. My only other concern is the stiffness of the springs.. not everybody digs that.
So, I'm currently leaning to the CH Products solution, but CH gets knocked to the 'plain-jane' appearance and dated features. I think that's a fair trade for reputation the reputation of quality they've secured. However, I have a few concerns and would appreciate any comments in this regard (or arguments for other choices). The throw on the throttle is linear and looks pretty short - how does it work in practice and can it be configured to provide a satisfactory reverse-thrust? I can live with no detentes, but is there enough throw for satisfactory idle and afterburner zones for fighters? OTOH, the fighterstick has a very long throw on the X and Y axis, and by all reports is very lightly sprung. Some have suggested that this is not well suited for modern aircraft (in general and jet fighters in particular).
So... please help me decide!