The next item to go under my scrutinizing eyes is a throttle control from Saitek. The Saitek Pro Flight Throttle Quadrant is by no means a new peripheral. In fact I was having a little audit of my site before I realised that I never did a review of the Saitek throttle quadrant besides having one of those units attached permanently to my computer table every day.
The Saitek Three Lever Pro Throttle Quadrant can be purchased separately and can also be found packaged together in the Saitek pro flight controller yoke system. To purchase the throttle quadrant separately will set you back $50. Although it seems cheap, you must keep in mind that you only get three levers while most throttle quadrants come with double this amount at 6 levers. So to get a six lever throttle controller you would have to buy two Saitek throttle units (which eats up 2 USB ports instead of one).
So what is a throttle controller and why do you need a separate one? In fact most flight yokes and joysticks already have an additional axis which you can use as an on-board throttle controller. Nonetheless, in my experience I found that these on-board axis were generally very limited in terms of both travel distance and physical detents. Also depending on what flight simulator you run sometimes you just need extra throttle quadrants to get full control of your plane such as with four engine prop planes or even a larger four engine jet plane.
For example I like to play il2 and having three additional levers allows me to set these to flaps, gear and throttle. I also find it way more intuitive to fly with the left-hand and keep the right-hand free to manipulate a separate controller. I also play Microsoft flight simulator 10 and because these levers have an idle detent I use travel below this area to set up reverse thrust. All in all this makes flying a much more intuitive and enjoyable experience. Without a way to properly engage reverse thrust there is nothing worse than madly finding and hitting the F7 key to try and slow your jet down on final.
Saitek Pro Flight Throttle Quadrant Features
- 3 axis levers with idle detent and hidden button under idle position
- 3 two way rocker switches
- Mixture of interchangeable colored knobs for throttle,mixture, prop and flaps.
- USB plug n play for windows systems
- Buy now at Amazon
Saitek Pro Flight Throttle Quadrant Review
Saitek Pro Flight Throttle Quadrant comes in a relatively small package and when you unpack it the throttle unit comes with a small assortment of different coloured knobs. There is your standard red, blue and black and interestingly there is also a larger knob which allows you to control all three levers simultaneously. I haven’t used this larger knob yet but I imagine if you are going to fly a twin engine plane than this makes the process of controlling the twin engines in tandem much easier.
The best thing about this Saitek throttle controller is that the levers have a long throw and are set at a very realistic angle. At the end of each axis is an idle detent, if you were to push the lever down a bit further you will hit a hidden button. You can use this hidden button to engage functions such as reverse thrust. At the upper extreme of the lever there is unfortunately no detent for afterburner, this make sense of course since the throttle unit looks like it’s been designed more for civil aviation use.
The unit installs easily you just plug it into a free USB port. My only real gripe is that the USB cable is extremely short, much shorter than the wire that goes from my mouse to the computer. I don’t think I really know why Saitek decided to do this, however if you are planning to place the throttle quadrant on the opposite side of your case then you will need to invest in a USB cable extender.
The Saitek three level quadrant comes with Saitek’s own programming software. However I’ve heard that many users online have suffered strange problems such as key ghosting once they installed Saitek’s own drivers and programs. Honestly, I was able to set up the Saitek throttle quadrant on both Microsoft flight simulator and IL2 without any issues even though I didn’t have any of the software or drivers installed. Of course, if you ever wanted to program your three lever throttle quadrant to do something exotic then you might have to muck around with potential driver and software issues.
Mounting of the Saitek throttle quadrant is done using a simple screw clamp design. Optionally Saitek includes screws if you wish to mount the unit permanently on your desk.
In addition to the 3 levers and a hidden button for each lever you also get a set of three rocker switches which gives you an additional 12 buttons to assign.
Overall, the unit looks presentable although the glossy black attracts fingermarks easily. If you own any CH product peripherals you will know they use moulded ABS plastic which is of a matte finish. I personally prefer this matte finish as it screams quality and durability. For the price, I guess you get what you pay for.
My only concern with this unit is how long it will last. There has been a lot of users on the Internet that have complained about the axis analogue pots going haywire and dying on them in less than one year. These analogue pots are not even user serviceable as it looks like Saitek have gone and used their own custom hard to find analogue pots.
Just one final thing, on my own throttle unit I seem to have a problem with lever 2. Any time the second lever hits the idle position it automatically triggers the hidden button. To fix this I need to jam the lever down to unstick this hidden button. I’m not sure exactly what causes this but it seems as though the button is placed a little higher than it should be or the lever does not have enough clearance in the case at the idle detent position. At the end of the day a minor niggle but still a shot in the foot in terms of Saitek’s quality control and build quality.
- 3 levers with good throw and realistic angle
- Real hidden buttons (not virtual) below idle position
- Changeable colored knobs
- Really short usb cable
- Cheap materials and poor build quality (stuck buttons?)
- Clamp screw needs lots of clearance under the desk
Check out what other users had to say…
The Saitek Pro Flight Throttle Quadrant works just as well if not better than its higher priced counterpart. I installed 2 of them in my flight simulator side by side. They set up and adjust very easy and the throws and ranges are very precise. I would recommend the saitek line of equiment to anyone looking for realism in flight simulation. You just cant beat this price and the quality is amazing. Amazon is great to deal with. They stand behind everything and ship super fast. [...] Read the rest of the review >
I’ve had this product for about a week now. I love it. It definitly kicks the realism up a notch. The only problem is that the product itself seems like it could break easily if misused or dropped. It’s pretty expensive and I thought that the plastic would be a little more durable. Other then that I’ve had no problem with the product. It’s a great one and I can’t wait until I the Saitek Pro flight Yoke gets here! I just ordered it like 10 min. ago. [...] Read the rest of the review >
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