MS SideWinder Force Feedback Wheel - Part 1

By Julian Lit

for Hardware One

When Microsoft announced that it was going to release a force-feedback wheel, I was overflowing with anticipation. I love driving games and I have always felt that either the keyboard or the joystick were never good at being controllers for driving games. I was waiting for the day it appeared in Sim Lim, anxious to find what the financial damage was going to be.

Since it’s first announcement sometime in Oct-Nov 1998, it seemed to take forever for MS’s FF Wheel to reach the shores of Singapore. Finally, around the beginning of March 1999 (exact date of availability in SLS is unknown), the Wheel was finally sighted in one of the SLS shops on the 5th floor.

An initial reconnaissance trip revealed that the Wheel was going to set me back by a cool S$359.90. After speaking to the store person, he revealed that the controlled price of the wheel was S$379.00. However, they were selling it at S$359.90, which is slightly lower than the recommended retail price. He also revealed that since the Wheel arrived, he had already sold a few of them.

"... after much a week of hard thought, I finally decided, 'I should have the Wheel!' and there was no turning back since."

Looking at a price tag of S$359, the Wheel seemed pretty unattainable. The box itself was huge, almost the size of a standard printer box, around 2’ by 1.5’ by 1.5’. I went home pretty disappointed thinking really hard if I should part with that amount of money or not. What did not help was that Lego’s Mindstorm (a robot building system) was also available at around S$387. This made the decision even more difficult as the Mindstorm Robot Construction Kit was also one of the "must-buy" items in my acquisition list.

Finally, after much a week of hard thought, I finally decided, "I should have the Wheel!" and there was no turning back since. I went down to that shop on Sunday 7th of March. To my surprise, the owner was proclaiming a storewide discount of 10% on all items. I couldn’t believe my ears … I had to clarify if the 10% applied to hardware as well. When the owner said yes, I made a beeline for the wheel and whipped out my credit card. The store assistant who was attending to me told me that the Wheel is really a great buy especially when the store owner just announced a 10% storewide discount. Eventually I forked out a total of about S$330+ which seemed to me a pretty good deal.

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