Flight sim hardware – what do customer reviews tell us?
I’m a numbers guy. I believe a leading reason I enjoy aviation (excluding the beautiful sights, joy of travel, and ability to share these moments with others) is the fact that operating an airplane requires a fluency with numbers. They are everywhere, from the digits we dial into the radios to calculating weight and balance to determining the ever-changing center of rotation. I was fascinated during ground school when we discussed the difference between best fuel economy and best fuel endurance.
With all the praise for flight simulators in today’s market, I decided to focus my appreciation of numbers towards the flight sim hardware we offer at Sporty’s. Through analysis of customer reviews for our flight simulator category, I believe I found a quantifiable way to gauge customers’ satisfaction with the hardware they purchased. Each piece of equipment is graded on the total number of stars they’ve received, number of reviews, average review, and lastly the average amount of stars they receive each month since they debuted.
You’ll notice many hardware options are missing in this analysis, but we wanted to only include items that owned two or more reviews. The Stars per Month metric is slightly skewed to favor newer products, but still an interesting report.
Yokes and Sticks
Not much surprise when reviewing the yokes category. For those who are able to get their hands on a Honeycomb Alpha Yoke, they’re usually quick to sing its praise. The average review of the All-in-One Flight Simulator Yoke from CH Products is quite impressive considering no one has jumped online to complain about lack of features or issues, it comes in with a perfect five out of five rating. Notable mentions go to the Logitech Flight Simulator Yoke with throttle and the Logitech Flight Sim Joystick. They’re both averaging consistent stars per month, even while they’re seen as older options. I attribute that to consistent customer happiness and both pieces owning a great reputation for seasoned or new simmers.
Yoke and Stick winners:
Again the Honeycomb branded throttle leads the pack in Average Review and also Stars per Month—the only problem these days is getting your hands on one. Second place for Average Review goes to the Redbird Alloy Single Throttle in vernier style. This is a $569 piece of equipment and a serious upgrade to flight simulation. To think that customers would rate their experience with that expensive of a piece with a 4.6 out of 5 speaks to the quality of this component. Also worth mentioning: it’s the only Cessna-style push/pull throttle on the market.
The Average Review column for Pedals is slightly skewed due to the newness of the Thrustmaster line, but considering in half a year no one has given them anything less than top rating is something worth mentioning. Our most popular set of pedals are the Logitech Flight Simulator Pedals with over three times as many stars as second place. The fact that it receives over one star a month while celebrating 13 years in the Sporty’s flight simulator department is another indicator of its value.
Accessories are interesting due to the fact that we’re comparing apples and oranges, but customer reviews should be a grade for expected value, rather than competition between peers. That being said, it seems the Pro Flight Switch Panel is a leader for the Pro Flight line of add-on peripherals. The Flight Velocity Trim Wheel Pro is a very new addition to the flight simulator offering but customers have voted with their wallets, in addition to comments on the product page, that this is a great add-on to a flight simulator.
Lastly, if you want a one-stop shop option for your flight simulator needs, we offer a few kit options here at Sporty’s. The leading kit from my analysis is the Logitech Flight Simulator Yoke and Pedals bundle. Bringing in almost 5 stars a month since it’s been activated sets it apart from the other kits and is a unique data point considering it’s been alive for three years now. Customers seem quick to review this piece once they’ve flown with it and tested its features, and with competitive price and having pitch, roll, yaw, engine management, and multiple customizable options, it’s not surprising that it averages a 4.44 out of 5 stars. To me it’s impressive that the Redbird Alloy Flight Simulator Complete Kit ($2000) reports the highest average rating from customers. Owners seem to be very satisfied with the saying, “you get what you pay for.”
It’s worth noting that while combing through all these reviews, there were complaints from customers due to outside factors that don’t necessarily speak to the value of the piece (specifically the Flight Velocity Mid Profile Simulator Cockpit Panel) but with the law of averages we should get an unbiased rating as more and more reviews are submitted. In a day and age where consumers are quick to point out problems or concerns with a retail experience rather than highlighting a victory, we pride ourselves here at Sporty’s that 23 of the 24 pieces reviewed have an average rating of 4 stars or better out of 5. It speaks to our selective product review process and reaffirms our belief that we’re bringing only the best hardware options to our customers.
If you are, or are soon to be one of our customers, please take a few minutes to give us a product review. You’ll help us to keep our product line competitive, while simultaneously providing more data for this left-brain pilot to review.