Any true lover of motoring and racing games will know that driving a performance car with your thumbs is just plain crazy – you need to get your hands on a wheel! Microsoft has just released its new offering – the Wireless Speed Wheel. Trev tested it in his man cave.

Perhaps taking design tips from the Red Bull Racing team, Microsoft has cut the top of the steering wheel and gone for a U shaped controller for all your motoring and racing games. Operating wirelessly up to nine metres from your Xbox, the Wireless Speed Wheel will allow you to get a better racing experience from games like F1 2011 and Forza 4.

You have the flexibility to sit or stand or move about which you don’t get with conventional stuck to the desk wheels. Being wireless you don’t have the issue of steering a wheel that is sitting on your lap where it is likely to fall right or left on sharp corners.

Here’s a (very crude) first look at the wheel in action – cut me some slack, I had to sit and hold it awkwardly to allow the whole thing in the video, but you can see here the sensitivity of the wheel and general performance.

Held in your hands, this is one very light controller – which does take away from the true driving gameplay experience a little – only because you don’t get the weight or resistance from a real wheel. That said, I don’t think this is at all aimed at the super racing gamer (like me). I would struggle to give up a hard core dedicated bolt-to-the-desk steering wheel, however, for the lounge-room Xbox this is almost ideal.

The green lights on top of the wheel light up to enhance the feedback. You have your rev limiter and get braking feedback as well. The responsiveness on the wheel between your movements and that of the game are close to immediate as well, but they are not dead on.  There is also a high degree of steering sensitivity with even the smallest movements replicated on screen. This too is good, but can also get tiring when you make lots of minor movements without anything other than your arms holding the wheel up and steady.

Retailing at $59.95 it’s nowhere near the price tags of the high end performance wheels you’ve seen around, and to be frank, it doesn’t offer the same accuracy or realistic feel those do. However, sitting in the lounge room, playing Forza 4, the Microsoft Wireless Speed Wheel is indeed a giant leap forward in control for a car nut (from a controller), putting a more realistic feel to the game than thumb steering can offer.

And on the super plus side – those of you who aren’t living the bachelor life of luxury will be pleased that the wife/girlfriend won’t mind the Wireless Speed Wheel because there is no fixed fittings to add to the table or chairs. In fact, because it takes up so little space you can most likely store it in the entertainment unit.

Price: $59.95

Web: Xbox