Use the force
The newest entry in the lineup of computer-controlled vibrating toys is here, and it's bright red. The Logitech WingMan Formula Force allows you to step into a whole new level of virtual gaming experience by vibrating like a crazed pygmy hamster. There are certainly other wheels out on the market, both force-feedback and non, but the Formula Force employs what has been dubbed I-FORCE (motto: we're too cool to use lowercase) technology. Differing from the system of gears used in wheels such as the MS Sidewinder Force Feedback wheel, the Formula Force contains a system of steel cables, capable of vibrating at up to 200 times per second.
The premise of the force feedback wheel is to communicate the action in the game to you through motions in the steering wheel. Unfortunately, this limits the realism possible; in a real car, the driver feels not only through the steering wheel, but through the pedals and the seat as well. Road conditions are generally felt through the steering wheel, such as slippery surface or uneven pavement. Larger bumps, such as Bott's dots (those little plastic bumps that deliniate lanes), potholes, and small children are generally felt through the seat bottom. The pedals communicate the engine rumbles, and are integral in being able to feel shifting points, instead of having to look at a tachometer. We'd like to see all this, but for now, we'll have to content ourselves with what the market offers.
Ease of use
Logitech is (of course) touting the Formula Force as the best of what the market offers, and we here at Firingsquad (motto: all we want is sheep, dammit!) will (of course) let you know the real deal. The first step is, of course, installation. The wheel comes with the option of using either a serial or USB connection; we went with the USB. Provided you've downloaded and installed the latest drivers (or gotten them off the CD which we just threw out), you just plug in the wheel and its power supply (conveniently with a small plug leading to a transformer, so you can plug it in most anywhere) and your computer will squeal with joy at its new accessory.
While your wheel is now ready to go, we'd suggest playing with the settings a bit first. The wheel has fairly subtle effects, so we'd recommend turning the force feedback settings all the way up, as well as turning on center stiffness. While some racing games may implement it, it's best to be sure, as center stiffness (which makes it harder to turn the wheel the further to the side you go) is vital in controlling your vehicle in any game.
The Chevy Nova Force Feedback Wheel