SUNCOM F15 E Talon
by Harold K. Schmulenson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When the Suncom Strike Fighter joysticks emerged on the scene in mid-1995, they became the first serious challenge to both Thrustmaster and CH products. Since that time the parent company has filed bankruptcy and Suncom has re-emerged and re-organized with a revamped product line featuring the Talon as its premium joystick.
The Talon is a sturdy stick with fine detail in its appearance and construction. It was modeled after that of the F-15 Eagle, and it shows this heritage in every detail. It sits on what Suncom calls " Saturn Ring Technology". This provides self-centering moderate resistance movements which are very precise. The feel is much tighter than the CH sticks, yet not as resistant as the heavier Thrustmaster F-22 springing. A very good compromise in balance and feel. There are 4 fire buttons and two 4-way HAT controls.
What makes the Talon unique among existing programmable joysticks is the fact that the Talon is programmable from within the game itself ! No downloading of template files or creation of time-consuming programs to run. At present, the major companies such as CH and TM require these files to be downloaded to the stick from a DOS prompt which is a chore in the age of Windows 95 (although CS Commander eases this chore...)
With the Talon it is simple. All four buttons and each of the two 4-way HATs are programmable for a total of 12 programmable keys. There are 4 slots to retain memory for a total of 48 keys. Since we generally assign a slot to a game, you can program up to 4 games into the stick. It is simple to do. Press a slot, then while in the game flip the programming button to the right, hold down the joystick button to program, press the keyboard function to emulate, release it first and then the joystick button, and return the programming button to the left. You are done !
This is not without drawbacks however. You can only program 4 games at a time and you cannot use multiple keystrokes per button ( such as alt + F1 ) which may make purists wince. This is to be remedied in the future Suncom throttle.
Of course, you can also use two slots per game, or use all four slots for one game, which then gives you 48 keys PER GAME, using the four buttons much like the dogfight switch on TMs TQS. Another perk is that you can change or add a single keystroke IN SIM without affecting the entire program! In other words, say you got a keystroke wrong or decide that you need radar range control instead of mfd access on a single key, you can change this key without affecting the other keys. Marvelous!
Unlike joysticks from CH, there is also no throttle slider wheel in the base, nor is there rotary axis adjustment wheels. The former is a definite plus, the latter unnecessary on these sticks. Suncom feels the lack of a throttle slider is made up for by allowing programming of the second HAT for throttle up and down along with rudder left and right. Personally I have solved this by adding a Y-cable along with a simple 2 button , 2 axis joystick. This acts as both a throttle and a rudder for my left hand and frees up the 4 way HAT switch for a better use.
In summary, the Suncom F-15E Talon is a superior stick for its incredible ease of programming under any conditions. The looks, feel, and response/tension are excellent. Durability and tech support is great (they answer their phones!) along with the thoughtful use of both standard and PS style keyboard connectors. Drawbacks are limited to lack of multiple keystroke programming, only four available memory slots, as well as no throttle slider. For about $49 US the stick is a steal and a welcome addition to any serious flight simmer's system.
For info on SUNCOMS' coming throttle go to:
© 1997 - 2000 COMBATSIM.COM, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated August 30th, 1997