Overview of Game Steering Wheel Steel Series SRW-S1

Almost every one of us loved to play with a radio-controlled car as a child. Of course many have forgotten what a joy it was. May be now is right the time when it’s worth recalling – how it used to be? The ideal way for that is to buy a new product of SteelSeries SRW-S1, which is a game controller in the form of a steering wheel.

Is it worth buying an expensive device? How can a steering wheel function without using a stand and why do the fingers of Formula 1 drivers ache – I will try to answer all these and other questions in this overview. Let’s start!

The look and description of the elements

The steering wheel is packed in the transparent box. The game controller inside is protected by two special inserts, the surface of which resembles suede. The content of the box is limited by the steering wheel itself and the user’s manual – there are no more additional elements inside.

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At the first sight the steering wheel makes positive impression. It is quite small – like in Formula 1. The set of buttons, which are clearly visible on the steering wheel due to their different colors, I dare say, very much resemble the structure used in a current steering control system in Formula 1 cars.

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The sizes of the steering wheel are about 240 x 150 mm. The weight is almost perfect – the steering wheel was balanced in such a way that we could “feel” it, but it is not too heavy so that to cause problems while operation. The adapter cable, which connects the device with the USB port, has the length of about 250 centimeters. It is covered with a thick material that prevents “the bend”.

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The wheel grips are made of rubber and thanks to this material even heavily sweat hand won’t slip from the handles. Besides, they have a special shape. Right away as you take the steering wheel in your hands, you can see how well it is placed in them.There is a complete absence of any discomfort that has no right to exist. However, we must be careful so that not to damage “the levers” as the material from which they are made can get scratched.

6Let’s now move to the front of the steering wheel where besides the product name and the word «Simraceway» (the name of the online game) are, as you might guess, the control buttons amount of which is larger in here than in other similar devices. Under each of them there is a caption, informing us about the function which it activates. Part of them isn’t allowed to be used in some games (for example: a request for PitStop in Need For Speed game). And naturally, it is not really necessary to use the said buttons only with the goal that manufacturer offers us (they can be reprogrammed).

We can easily notice that the buttons are divided into several groups, each of which has its own color. It is convenient, because during the game it is difficult to “spy” constantly upon the steering wheel and look for the right keys (the similar situation is noticed at the beginning of usage, since it is difficult to remember the arrangement of all existing keys). Thanks to the different color division of the buttons it is easier to “find” the appropriate option. On the top left part of the front panel there are six buttons, the original purpose of which includes:request pit;brake balance adjustment (x2);look back camera;look left camera;lights.

13Speed limiter (useful during the run on the pits stop in F1);

“Launch Control” — prepares the car for the start;

HUD system;

horn;

speed-up/Nitro/Boost;

look right camera.

10In the lower corners of the playing panel the buttons “Back” and “Camera” are located.

Now I will talk about very intriguing details of the steering wheel – namely, about three regulators, which are located at the bottom. First of them is used for settings of sensitivity control. The greater parameter point we make use of, the larger the angle we will have to do to turn. Personally, the most minimal of the options available was very much to my taste.

11“Invul”;

pit-stop;

steer;

traction control;

brake intensifier;

ABS system — wheel lock when turning;

“clutch”;

“Shift”;

“Stab”;

“Spin”;

all are available.

The third regulator is used for fine-tuning – up to what extent we will be “assisted”. There are four options: Off (the assists are in off position);

low (low level of assistance);

middle(average level of support);

high (high level of assistance).

We have discussed all buttons of the game controller. Thus we have: four pedals, three regulators, relating to the settings of the steering wheel, 8-position navigation button and fifteen fully adjustable buttons.

All this is very impressive. By programming and using all the buttons you can really feel like Formula 1 driver.

Performance attributes

So that the steering wheel could work properly the   following requirements:

operating system: Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7;

dual-core processor 2,4 GHzand more;

no less than 2 GB of random-access memory;

video display board not lower than GeForce 4200/Radeon 9200, 256 MB VRAM;

maintenance of DirectX 9.0c;

the availability of free hard disk drive space of 4 GB.

According to the manufacturer statements the steering wheel is fully compatible with following games: IRacing.com, Formula 1, Simraceway, GTR, Live For Speed, DiRT (1,2,3), GTR 2, Test Drive Unlimited, Need For Speed Shift (Hot Pursuit 2011, Underground), Midnight Club 3 Dub Edition, Blur.Moreover, the manufacturer asserts that the steering wheel will work with most of the races; just some of the options may not be available in them.

Installation and setup

The steering wheel doesn’t require installation of any software. Immediately after connecting the cable to the USB port, we can get to “work”.

However, just before the start of the game, you need to change the control settings. And here the problems begin.Depending on what kind of game we want to play the manufacturer’s error of greater or lesser degree (if you can call it this way) appears. In most games, to change the control settings, after pressing the “Enter” button or selecting with your mouse the control settings menu, you need to press in turn the right buttons, which will be responsible for the functions we have selected.Since the steering wheel has a built-in position sensor (later more about it), so while pressing the “Enter” button the game immediately “catches” the change in position along the Z axis and changes the settings – on the motion in the given plane, which is very annoying.

How can we properly set up the control? To do this you need to put the steering wheel on the table, making sure that no pedals are randomly pressed, then press the “Enter” key and after that select the key we are interested in very carefully. This is a rather complicated process which may cause a lot of troubles to some users. It took me about ten minutes to change the settings in NFS: Hot Pursuit.

Except the “error” mentioned above I didn’t notice any other defects.

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How it works

We already know where everything is, how it works and what is the way to change the settings, but why does the steering wheel have no stand? As previously mentioned, the game controller has built-in sensors that enable computer to determine the current position of the steering wheel. Start using it while playing in such a way is strange – the steering wheel must constantly be kept in the air. Overtime, however, more and more positive impressions appear. Due to such solution, we don’t have restrictions and we don’t need to bind anything to the table. Just imagine that your bed and pillows can be successfully “transformed” into Formula 1 car. Simply speaking, the freedom of working with the device when you are not attached to the table is a big advantage.

Of course, there are people, who prefer the standard steering wheel with a stand; however, the model of the game controller considered today will also find its fans.

Tests

Tests of SRW-S1 device were carried out in the games:Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit;

F1 2010;

Test Drive Unlimited.

The purpose of testing was to check the driving comfort, steering wheel sensitivity and evaluate the general impression of the game. Here I would like to add that all the impressions received connected with the tests are subjective.

Hot Pursuit — one of the most exciting games of NFS game series. Lifelike graphics, head phones of good quality, and finally the steering wheel made it possible to plunge completely into the process of the game. In the beginning I faced the problem of control settings (of which it was just written above). When I managed to solve this problem I was finally able to take part in the competitions. At the very beginning it was very difficult to drive, especially because the steering wheel is completely deprived of any support point. Eventually, I still managed to get a better control over the car.Each turn of the steering wheel while driving was well palpable. The resulting impression of the game can be described as very positive.

One more game where the work of the game controller was tested – the popular version from the Codemasters. In it, we hold on the steering wheel of Formula 1 car and try to be drivers “living” in the world of high speeds ourselves. The steering wheel wasn’t fully used during the game and this was because not all the buttons could be used. Many of the other functions proposed by design engineers are not supported in the given game. This is a big disappointment be cause I was convinced that the device will completely “cooperate” with this game. In addition, the system of assists (assistants) didn’t work. I think that such a limitation of device functionality is due to the fact that SRW-S1 steering wheel is mainly designed for work with the game F1 2011, and the previous version of F1 2010, which the test was performed on, is not fully supported.

Despite everything mentioned above, I can’t but claim that the process of the game was boring. The control panel worked perfectly and I was pleasantly surprised by that.The steering wheel is a device that is well suitable for use in Codemaster games.

13The last test was — Test Drive Unlimited. In this game, I didn’t face the problem of changing control settings; however, the impressions from driving were not as good as in two previous trials.

Complete lack of realism was felt. The car slowed down too quickly and had poor turns. In spite of all this the movements of the steering wheel in the game were easily “reproducible”. I already know why the drivers of F1 have ache in their fingers.Continuous pressing on the different buttons leads to the fact that the fingers get excellent “gymnastics”.

Summing up

SRW-S1 is a pretty well constructed product, demonstrating the example of the use of new technologies which will increasingly occur in other devices. Steering wheel itself has an ergonomic shape that conveniently fits in hands.The buttons and levers are located in convenient places, and as for their performance, there are no remarks here. We must admit that because of the lack of a stand the comfortlevel has considerably decreased and the installed motion sensors make it difficult to change the control settings.

Generally, SRW-S1 deserves a good mark. We must pay tribute to the courage of the Steelseries Company creators. Still far from being perfect, the presented steering wheel is definitely a great step forward on its way towards perfection.

Advantages

Lack of stand (freedom of actions);

large number of buttons;

excellent ergonomics and convenient form of the steering wheel;

additional sensitivity settings control and assists;

D-pad;

LEDs informing about the engine revs;

good performance.

Disadvantages

There is a problem with control settings;

slightly tired hands during a game;

[*] LEDs and assists do not work in all games.

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Author: W. Stewart
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