After my very basic, very cheap and depressingly reliable Microsoft Sidewinder was accidentally horribly brutally shattered, mutilated and broken by an oncoming wall (the joystick's fault, really - it failed to dodge), it was time to buy a new toy.
A joystick? On PC? When's the last time anyone used one of those, right? Well, the occasional computer game like IL-2: Forgotten Battles
requires a joystick to review, but given the dearth of interest in flight sims lately, I could have held off on buying a joystick for another few years, I imagine. Unfortunately, my on-going addiction to World War II Online requires me to engage a joystick for the purposes of driving tanks, or more rarely, crashing aircraft into the ground while in an uncontrollable spin.
Enter the Saitek Cyborg Evo
, which just happened to be the most decent joystick that Best Buy had at the time I was getting the shakes from WW2 Online withdrawal. I suppose it's possible I could have found an uglier joystick if I tried, but remember: this is Best Buy
we're talking about and their selection is limited at best.
For all its hideously unsuccessful attempts at trying to look futuristic, the Saitek Cyborg Evo is actually quite a decent joystick for the money. It places, as you can see, a lot of emphasis on function over form. All the buttons are easily accessible, the hand support at the bottom can be switched from comfort for a left-hander. There are two knobs at the top that control the side-to-side tilt of the top button array as well as the forward/back tilt of the three buttons on the bottom of that array.
The Saitek Cyborg Evo features an 8-way hat switch, which is almost a luxury at this price range. The hat is notchy enough to give the feeling of feedback when you're in the right spot, without interfering with movement of the hat. In fact, the only ergonomic problem we noticed was that the 5 and 6 buttons near the hat are a little too far away for easy reach if you tilt up the lower buttons. Hitting those two usually means setting off buttons 2, 3 and/or 4. In general the buttons are light and require little pressure (perhaps too little) but give an audible and tactile click that confirms their effectiveness.
The Cyborg Evo is composed of several kinds of plastic, the dark matte blue being very grippy and resistant to slippage from sweat. The base of the stick is moderately weighted with 4 grip pads, but it doesn't sit well on a lap, especially not when the rudder twist is being used.