I haven't had that many steering wheels in my time gaming with racing or any sort of driving games, I much prefer to just use an Xbox controller for most of them. Part of that was due to the fact I bought one of the cheapest MadCatz wheels out back when Gran Turismo first started with the original PlayStation. Let me just say that the wheel was fun to use, but using it in the living room was more of a pain to use than it was worth. After that many years passed, and I was given the SRW-S1 from SteelSeries, and man was I blown away with what they provided. From my perspective, I look at it like this, I have seen some of the worst and some of the best in what has been around in a racing wheel. This means there is a huge middle ground to fill.
With that in mind, I saw that Genius had a press release for their new racing wheel. Now this is a table top model, and needs to be secured to a table to support the wheel and shifter to the right of it. Genius also delivered this wheel with vibration feedback to give stay at home drivers a much better feel for the road, as they slide from side to side on the tracks. They also dolled up this design with the use of bold colors and very easy to identify automotive touches to the external design. There is yet another half to this product, the foot pedals. These are average sized pedals, but there is only an accelerator and brake pedal, there is no clutch pedal with this kit.
Genius has been doing pretty well with the mice they have sent along for TweakTown review over the past year, and I have an idea we are going to be dealing with the same level of build quality and design elements that make their products unique against all of the masses of options out there today.
What I plan to do with the new Speed Wheel 6 MT is see if it can stand up to the rigors of racing, see if it is secure when correctly mounted to a desk, see if the foot pedals slide across the floor when used, see if it is accurate and free from input lag - all the things that a potential purchaser will need to know when looking at this sort of product.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Inside of the box you will receive a steering wheel component, foot pedals, pair of clamps and some literature and a driver disc. The steering wheel component is 14 inches deep, stands 11 inches tall and 14 inches wide. The wheel is mostly black, but Genius added red rubberized hand grips to both sides, where the rest of the wheel is plastic. On the face of the center of the wheel you are given a D-pad and five buttons under the Genius badge right in the middle. To offset the D-pad off to the left, the right side offers PlayStation symbology on the four buttons offered there. Just behind the wheel, on the steering column, there is a set of paddle controls for shifting there if you wish. Otherwise, you can use the three switch gear shifter that sits to the right of the wheel on the plastic base. The front section of the wheel then offers a wheel and tire design to cover all of the internal components and dress up the aesthetics a bit.
The pedal assembly is also made of plastic and feels really light when first removed from the box. This section of the kit is 11.5 inches in depth, it sits at nine inches in width, and from the floor to the tip of the pedals these stand six and a half inches tall. The front most section of this base has waves indented in it to give the heel of your foot some sort of a grip on the textured plastic. The pedals are designed to look like the drilled out aluminum pedals found in high-end sports cars and race cars, but again are plastic, and the holes don't go all the way through. While the wheel section connects to the PC via two meters of USB cable, to connect the pedals to the wheel, Genius went with a phone style cable and connection that plugs into the wheel at the left side near the back.
The Speed Wheel MT6 is currently widely available. I am searching around, and even matched the part numbers since most listings do not mention anything about the vibration feedback or the shifter. What I found is that this wheel is very reasonably priced, and is in the range of the most. I strongly advise that you search around for the best deal possible, because I have seen listings starting at $66.40 at Amazon, and the pricing can soar up and over $100 from a couple of locations.
One obvious addition to this unit is not only will this work on the PC, but with the PlayStation buttons already present on the wheel, it obviously will work for your PS3 as well. Considering pricing, based solely on looks and offerings, and not yet the performance, I see the Speed Wheel 6 MT is priced well, and should easily sell well for Genius.
Genius packs the SW 6 MT in packaging that accents the color of the wheel, as well as placing the wheel and gear shifter components over the image of a couple of Le Mans style cars in the background. Along with the site address, you can see all of the features and a few little boxes covering other aspects.
The next panel is bright red using white text to cover the company and product names at the top of the panel. Under the rendering of the vehicle, there is a list of features and the package contents provided there.
Around the back we move back to a white panel with all sorts of information on it. It points out the D-pad, gear shifter and the paddles behind the wheel. It also shows the pedals, the connectivity, and how the clamps work to mount the wheel. Repeated at the bottom is a list of four features.
Now we go back to red as the back drop as the top half remains the same as we say on the obverse panel. At the bottom this time the specifications are listed showing the 13 buttons, clamps, wheel and compatibility.
Inside of the box, Genius first wraps the products in plastic liners with the cords hanging out. They then also bag the cords that are wound up. To keep the components separated, there are folded sections of cardboard to keep them from rubbing or possibly getting scratched. This large box was also packed inside of another box when delivered to my house, and even with the lack of any "serious" internal packaging, the Speed Wheel 6 MT arrived in very good shape.
Genius Speed Wheel 6 MT Racing Steering Wheel with Gear Shifter
Right out of the box, the Genius SW 6 MT is a good looking wheel. The use of all black as the foundation, with pops of red on the wheel and the use of the chromed plastic for the buttons is a sleek combo that anyone should be able to get into.
To the left of the large round badge at the center of the wheel you will find the four buttons of the provided D-pad that is in easy reach of your left thumb, while still securely gripping the wheel with that hand.
Under the badge, you have five more buttons. These are given an identity with the L2, Select, Menu, Start and R2. I also like the touch of the leather-like appearance of the center section of the wheel; it is just an extra step that could have been easily left out.
In easy reach of the right thumb, there are four more buttons provided using a PlayStation iconography with the Triangle, Square, X and O buttons.
Just behind the wheel, you will be able to feel a pair of curved paddle shifters. This allows you the option to use these for shifting of course, but you could program them to look behind you, or honk the horn or something corny.
To make life easier when looking to program the switches in any favourite driving game, the paddles are numbered.
Same goes for the paddle shifter on the right side of the wheel, but this time it has R1 painted on the black metal paddle.
Down on the base, to the right of the wheel, is the gear shifter with three switches in it. The buttons are marked L3 at the top of the stick, R3 at the bottom, and pushing the shifter to the right will press the L1 button. That is right; there are two L1 buttons on the setup.
Spinning the wheel around as if you were looking at the wheel from your monitor's perspective, the front cover for the internal components is designed to look like the tread on a tire.
Genius Speed Wheel 6 MT Racing Steering Wheel Continued
Both sides of the cover have a chromed section applied that shows three spokes of a rim with black insets in the voids to make it appear more realistic. I have to give it to Genius - this thing looks really good.
Under the SW 6 MT there are five suction cups that will grip very tight against glass or any other super smooth surface. So much so that when removing it, you think you are pulling way too hard to break the suction. I still suggest you use the provided clamps, if possible.
There is two meters of plastic coated USB cable with a normal UBS connection on the end. I do like that they also added a Ferrite choke to eliminate any cross talk in this cable.
Inside of the wheel all of the wires come together at this point. They also add some glue to the top to keep the vibrations it will make from shaking out these clips on accident.
Under the gear shifter, you can see three red switches to activate the forward, back and side motion of the gear shifter. I did not remove them from the white nylon component, but if I had to guess, I would say these are TTC branded switches.
As the base wraps around to the back, on the left side of the wheel, there is a port to connect the foot pedals via this phone jack style female connector.
Internally, all of the major components of the wheel and its housing are made of nylon parts. While much lighter than steel components, and more forgiving that rigid plastic, with this design, there is little to go wrong, and the gearing is tight enough that they should not strip out on you over time.
As the wiring leaves the center of the column, you will find the vibration motor that uses a plastic leg to transfer said vibrations up to your hands. This is a larger sized motor, and when allowed to run at 100%, it delivers a realistic feel when you run off the road or hit a wall at 150 MPH.
Genius Speed Wheel 6 MT Pedals
Fresh out of the box, the pedals of the SW 6 MT are attractive and are made entirely of plastic, most of which is reinforced to take the pressure of normal usage. The pedals themselves are designed to look like a set from a high dollar race car, and there is a tire tread-like design to keep your heels in place.
There is a bit of an angle to bring the level of the pedals up without needing to increase the arms on the pedals, making for more travel to use. With this design not only to the arms go back when used, the tops also pivot to adjust to various sized feet.
Under the pedals there are just five rubber pads to grip to the floor. If you are on a hard surface, this does grip rather well, but will creep away over time. If you are on carpet, forget it, you need to set something behind these to keep the pedals from walking away during the race.
There is slightly less of the phone cable that comes from the pedals. Here you get roughly 1.6 meters of cabling with the connection on the end that goes into that grey jack, which I showed you earlier. If you have a small desk, you can wire this around back, but for larger desks, it has to run up through your legs.
At the base of the pedals you will find very thick and strong springs used for the pedals. There is a cross frame that acts as the stop for the arms, and keeps them from hitting the casing of this assembly.
I had to remove the pedals to gain access inside, and here as well Genius has used a spring to allow the pedals to roll a bit under the ball of your foot. There is a very beefy through pin and E-clip used to secure the pedals to the arms.
To help keep you from pushing the pedals through the floor, there are back stops for both pedals. The frame of this stop is made of plastic, but there is a thick rubber pad used to take the shock out of it when you do mash on the gas or the brake.
Accessories and Documentation
Once everything is out of the box, you will find the literature lying on the bottom of the box. As part of a kit, Genius deliver a user manual that is written in 25 languages, so I assume things will be very blunt and to the point.
Each language gets its own page of instructions. These start off showing off four things under the heading of specifications and it then covers the basic functions of this device, and ends things off with a chart converting the symbols on the wheel to PC settings, PS3 settings or their Xinput counterparts.
You also get a disc that delivers the PC driver for the SW 6 MT, and also has a PDF version of the manual on it. I strongly suggest you use the driver, without it the vibration feedback is dysfunctional, and there is a bit of input lag. With the driver installed, both issues were rectified instantly.
To mount the steering wheel and gear shifter to a desk that the suction cups won't grab onto normally, you are given these plastic C-clamps. The pin at the top of the right clamp sets into the base, and then you adjust the screw to securely grip the underside of the desk. These are reinforced with the way the plastic is designed, but under pressure they do flex quite a bit.
This is just to show how the clamps sit into the base when they are used and tightened completely to the table. Even though they are bulky, the way they are placed on the base keeps them away from your fingers when turning the wheel and this one does not impede on the gear shifter in any way.
After a lot of hours on Grid, Dirt 3, and Simraceway, I got really comfortable with the feel and usage of the Speed Wheel 6 MT, and liked a lot of what I found in that testing. Most obviously, this wheel is very aesthetically pleasing with the use of the various textures, red accents and chromed touches around the entire thing - it is definitely a looker. Steering is mildly resistant from the force of the springs used to make sure the wheel will always rest at center. The paddle shifters are responsive, the gear shifter is solid and makes defined movements that you cannot mess up, and the unit very solidly clamps to any desktop with little time and effort involved.
All of these aspects are solid for Genius, and the new Speed Wheel 6 MT with vibration feedback. Oh, I almost forgot about that. The vibration system on this is very strong if turned all the way up and is much stronger in the hand feel than what either a PS3 or Xbox controller provides.
Checking off the boxes for what is solid and done well about this system, there were also some things that were a bit on the miss for me as well. I don't know about you, but I tend to make a mistake in the game, and maybe want to wrench on the wheel a bit in frustration. With the Nylon components inside, while strong and tightly build, the wheel will flex quite a bit if 'handled' incorrectly. What is more frustrating is the peddle system. With my larger desk, I cannot run the wiring behind my desk, and it left me running it through one of the clamps to prop the wire from the lower component to the wheel, and it was constantly rubbing on my leg. On top of that, my office is carpeted, and without something to block it from traveling, these peddles offer no grip on a carpeted surface. If you do have a hard floor under your desk, they do stay longer in one place, but in a fast paced game with a lot of heavy gas and heavy breaking into the corners, the peddles still have a tendency to wander away.
As long as you can find other ways to compensate for these couple of "small issues" as I will call them, it is easy to fully enjoy the benefits of a wheel over a controller with the Speed Wheel 6 MT. I know eventually when I got the hang of it, I was able to turn faster laps and feather the throttle more to keep me from dumping out the rear end as I exited corners.
For a price of $66 prior to any shipping costs, I will say you get what you pay for with this new wheel from Genius. It is cost effective, cross-platform compatible, offers paddle shifters or a gear shifter, and has a really strong vibration feedback incorporated to allow you to more enjoy any sort of racing game. Whether you are sliding the tail out on dirt courses, or hugging the striped bumper on the inside of a turn on a street course, moving to a wheel system from a controller is a huge advantage. Genius packs the Speed Wheel 6 MT with just enough to be able to please any style of racer, and make you feel at home in any style of car with the multiple shifter options.
I know my knowledge of racing wheels is somewhat limited at this point, but with what I have seen, along with some of the outrageous pricing associated with the more realistic solutions, I think Genius is offering an above average solution, and is worth every bit of its economically friendly pricing.
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