Some months ago I had the chance to review the PS3/4 and PC compatible Thrustmaster T150. This turned out to be a solid little wheel with full functionality that would not break the bank. The force feedback was not as strong or as nuanced as what I had found with the higher end TX F458 and T300 products, but it provided a wholly satisfactory experience that was around one half the price of the higher end products.
Something missing from the lineup was a budget/entry level product for the Xbox One. The TX F458 provides support for that platform, but it is anywhere from $300 to $400 US in price. Essentially the same price as the console itself. This comes at a pretty good time as a whole slew of racing games are being released on consoles these days (or soon). Products such as DiRT Rally, Project Cars, and the upcoming console release of Assetto Corsa have injected new life into racing titles on consoles. Add in Microsoft's continued development of the Forza series, console users have a good excuse to purchase racing inspired gear for their products.
In speaking with the DiRT developers, they admitted that they have to adjust the difficulty of the games to make them playable on game pads. This makes sense as there are not nearly enough degrees of movement from either a turning or throttle/braking standpoint. There is maybe a 30 degree movement in total with the thumbpads as well as not very many gradiations when using the triggers on the gamepad for braking and throttle control. To get the most out of racing games a wheel is very necessary. It provides the accuracy needed to drive very fast without the application helping a user out by decreasing the realism of the driving experience.
The Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback wheel is very similar in build and size to the earlier T150. The primary differences are of course the Xbox One compatibility as well as a 900 degree rotation. The T150 had the full 1080 degrees, but it seems like the 900 number is a hard limit on the Xbox. The wheel can be programmed to handle rotations as low as 270 degrees as well as up to 900. It is a hybrid pulley/geared unit with solid force feedback strength. It features a metal axle and metal ball bearings so the wear will be minimal over the lifetime of the product. It also features the same 12 bit optical tracking mechanism that the T150 utilizes that gives 4096 values for each 360 degrees of rotation of the wheel.
No specialty drivers or software are needed for use with the Xbox One, but drivers are needed for the PC. The firmware in the wheel contains all the necessary software to run successfully on the Xbox One, so it is simply plug and play for that platform. The wheel comes with the wide 2 pedal unit which also allows users to remove the pads and adjust their position to their own liking. The paddle shifters are also made of metal so that they will not break after extended use and wear. While the actual wheel itself cannot be swapped out like with the TX and T300 bases, the TMX does support the Thrustmaster ecosystem of add-in parts. It is compatible with the T3PA and T3PA-Pro bedals and the TH8A manual shifter (that can also be configured as a sequential shifter).
$199.99 is not inexpensive, but it is a reasonable price for a product of this nature. It looks to be a very good introductory wheel of the Xbox One platform that will last years. It could also act as a gateway drug to more expensive purchases in the future, such as the pro pedals, a new base, and a fancy Alcantara based wheel. The TMX should be available by next month at major retailers around the world.