Saitek continues to release panels in its pro flight range. So far we have already had the,
- Saitek Pro Flight Multi Panel for controlling AP, trim and flaps
- Saitek Pro Flight Radio Panel for the radios
- Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel for various light, engine switches and gears
With the majority of the hands on flight panels available for purchase, the next logical choice is to think about how to display the various flight instrument data on a virtual home cockpit. This is where the next product the Saitek Pro Flight Information Panel comes in.
Basically this product is a small generic 3.5″ colour LCD screen that you hook up via USB and you customize to display various flight instruments. Each LCD screen has 6 buttons on the left of the screen and two knobs on the bottom.The info panels are designed to work with Microsoft Flight Simulator X.
Saitek Pro Flight Information Panel
Out of the box you get the LCD panel, some mounting stuff and an installation cd. Once you have installed the drivers, the information panel is configured to display 6 cockpit instruments that are accessed by using the up and down scroll button located in the middle bottom part of the panel. All the information that you can see on the virtual cockpit is pulled from the game and displayed on these panels. You have a choice of flipping through the following 6 instrument panels if you install using the included cd.
If you go to saitek’s site you can download additional gauges.
The info panel system is modular, what this means is that you can add or remove additional panels as you see fit and customize what each panel will display. Each LCD panel has a metal arm that pops out and allows it to stand upright, similarl in action to an alarm clock, but if you wish to stack the panels then you will have to use the screws and the supplied mounting squares to do so.
The info panel also comes with a special SDK kit that allows the more technically minded to program their own gauges or even display information to work with other games or applications. However, for average user like me I stuck to the 6 guages that came with the cd, although being able to download an additional six of the saitek website was nice. The new gauge downloads now allow me to display navigational info like VOR and ADF.
On the info panel is a backlit up and down button that allows you to scroll between the gauges and as you do the function of each of the 6 buttons changes to match the currently displaying gauge. There are also two knobs that allow you to interact directly with what is shown on the info panel. Everything you see and can press or tweak is fully customizable, unfortunately it does require that you wade in some code to do so.
Saitek Pro Flight Information Panel Features
- The pro flight information panel functions as a 3.5″ multifunction device (MFD)
- LCD screen is color
- Works with flight simulator X
- USB connection
- Buy Saitek Pro Flight Information Panel at Amazon
The LCD panels are bright and display all the information without any trouble. The setup is not plug and play, however driver installation is painless and like most users there is no real headache configuring the panels to work with MS FSX. Their small size makes it easy to install into any existing home cockpit that you have built and you are given stackable mounts in case your computer desk is the flight deck. It is obviously much cheaper to use small LCD screens than to purchase real gauges and instruments to display flight information. There is basically no other cheaper alternative to get functional gauges than to get the Saitek Pro Flight Information Panel. The only other option would be to buy a touch screen panel or small LCD monitor and configure that as your instrument panel.
USB hubs, you need a powered usb hub. Each panel has its own usb plug and with 4 panels, that will mostly likely eat up all your free USB ports on the back of your motherboard. Additionally if you have other USB devices such as a flight yoke and pedals then obviously a powered usb hub will be an essential secondary purchase. There was one small thing I did notice with all the panels plugged in, sometimes a panel would not start or a flight device would not be detected, this was most likely because of my aging motherboard however replugging did solve the problem and it makes me wonder how much power draw these things really have!
Having a set of real looking gauges is a nice spiffy upgrade that adds that little more realism to the home cockpit setup, however it does come at a price of USB ports and additional CPU usage. If you have an old PC than beware, you might notice the info panels lag a bit behind what is displayed in the FSX virtual cockpit.
To really get the most out of these panels, you will need to invest some time learning how to program them. Doing this, you can add new gauges that are not available and even better, customize what the 6 buttons on each panel do. However if you are happy with the FSX virtual cockpit than maybe the Saitek Pro Flight Information Panel is more of a wish than a necessary purchase for you at this moment, you can always look to getting some rudder pedals or even TrackIr first.
- Nice clean 3.5″ color LCD display
- Stackable and you can add it easily to your existing home cockpit
- Easy installation and enough default gauges to get you started
- Need to learn how to program to get 100% out of these gauges
- CPU usage
- Included install cd does not include all gauges
Check out what other users had to say…
Amazon Review #1
I have the yoke and 3 lever throttle, the rudder pedals and 3 of the saitek Flight instrument panels and the Pro Flight Switch Panel. They work GREAT!
They are HIGHLY recommended. I only have 2 complaints..sometimes all the panels don’t get started at the same time (probably due to the USB power requirement) so I have to unplug them and replug… […] Read the rest of the review >
Amazon Review #2
They all work OK kind of laggy, the attitude indicator is very laggy. I got all 6 of these. I ran it off of my regular pc, and it drains your main cpu. The attitude indicator dosn’t always match up, i ran it in the recommended client/server mode and it ran a little faster but not much. Wish it had some navaid stuff built into it. […] Read the rest of the review >
Saitek Pro Flight Multi Panel for controlling AP, trim…