Review: Microsoft’s wireless Speedwheel


Microsoft released the wireless Speedwheel for the Xbox not so long ago, and it’s a great addition to any racing fanatics’ peripheral arsenal. The sturdily-built device sits comfortably in the user’s hands, and only weighs slightly less than a regular controller – making it the ideal piece of hardware.

Microsoft's wireless Speedwheel for the Xbox (image: Microsoft)

But while the Speedwheel is a great addition to any gamer’s arsenal, but there are a couple of niggles. The wheel doesn’t have any shoulder buttons, so it’s a bit difficult to activate certain functions in a game if it needs shoulder buttons.

The face buttons are also a bit smaller than those on a standard Xbox controller, but that doesn’t hinder their selectability. It’s actually very comfortable to reach and press them. But given that the Speedwheel is used for driving games, gamers won’t have constantly hammer them.

And the Speedwheel seems to have different sensitivity depending on the game. In something like F1 2011, the wheel works beautifully, with fast response times and excellent acceleration recognition as well as speed control. It’s hard to imagine that it wasn’t built specifically for F1, as it just works great.

For Forza 4, on the other hand, the response times aren’t as accurate, and there is definitely a slight delay in turning. It’s not major difference, but it’s just big enough to be noticeable. That can cause for a bit of frustration, especially if players have to make quick turns around corners – or to veer away from opposition.

Although it seems like the wheel has two extra sensors on the ends of the u-shaped wheel, there is no difference whether or not players use the Kinect system, as the wheel reacts and works in the same way that a Wii’s controller works.

The wheel gets it power from two AA batteries, and there is no battery pack, so after excess use, players might go through a couple of those a month. It’s not a deal-breaker, but an extra rechargeable battery pack would have been a nice addition.

It can be argued that the addition of a battery pack would have made the wheel heavier, as it’s already a bit of a struggle to use in prolonged gaming. The weight isn’t the issue – it’s the constant holding and lifting up of the wheel that can make even the strongest of arms a bit weak after a while.

The wheel works brilliantly and it’s a really cool piece of hardware for any racing gamer. It might become a bit of a novelty after a while – especially since it responds differently in various games. But gamers will certainly not regret buying it. It looks cool, works well and fits comfortably in the user’s hands.

Charlie Fripp – Acting Online editor