Mad Catz Team up with Star Citizen for New Space Simulation Hardware

Mad Catz and their Saitek brand have reached out into new realms as of late and we’ve seen several interesting new things, ranging from music instruments for the new Rock Band game as well as exclusive farming simulation hardware geared towards, yes you guess it, Farm Simulator. That wasn’t enough for them and they’ve now announced dedicated Star Citizen Space Simulation Hardware. We have not yet been shown what that will look like, but I’m sure that it will get one or the other fan excited.

Mad Catz teamed up with Cloud Imperium Games to create a range of officially licensed simulation products for Star Citizen and its groundbreaking science fiction universe. The new range of hardware is expected to ship in 2016 and will be released under the Company’s Saitek simulation brand.

The game combines FPS combat with persistent MMO gameplay to create an amazing universe with almost unlimited gameplay experiences. Such a game also deserves some proper hardware and while Mad Catz already worked closely with the company that used the Saitek X52 in multiple videos and also made it perfectly compatible with the game. While the X52, and also X55 H.O.T.A.S. sticks are great, they are more aimed at earth-based simulation games.

It will be very interesting to see what the two companies come up with. The official web page already has a section for space simulation, but so far it only contains products from the current lineup.

Mad Catz Supports Virtual Farmers With New Hardware

Mad Catz recently branded out into the Music games with their Rock Band deals, but there are more simulation genres to be conquered; the next on is farming. The Farming Simulator game has become quite popular and had many versions up until now.

Mad Catz now brings the exclusive hardware specially designed for farming. The Tractor Steering Wheel, the pedals and the side panel you need to play Farming Simulator 15 the best way possible. If you would couple this hardware with an Oculus Rift, then you truly get close to the real experience.

Pre-orders can be placed now and the actual hardware is scheduled to be available this fall. The hardware is officially licensed and compatible with Farming Simulator 2013 and 2015 as well as the upcoming Faming Simulator 2015 Gold Edition and future GIANTS Software titles in the series.

The highly realistic Tractor Wheel & Pedal Set provides enthusiasts with a center-sprung, properly tilted wheel, complete with turn-knob providing 900 degrees of rotation.

The Vehicle Side Panel has over 25 programmable buttons for total control. The realistic front loader control stick finishes the sensation of true mastery over heavy machinery.

You can pre-order the new hardware now at the official Saitek Mad Catz Farming Simulator page. The new hardware will already be on display at the E3 expo.

“Our Saitek brand of simulation products strive for authenticity, quality and attention to detail and we believe that Farming Simulator enthusiasts will be impressed with our forthcoming range of hardware,” said Darren Richardson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mad Catz. “We are pleased to offer fans the opportunity to pre-order the range of products and look forward to them contributing to our growth in 2015 and beyond.”

As for the price, the Wheel and pedals set will cost you $149.99 and the same goes for the Side panel. A complete pack with all three items will also be available for $299.99, which actually is a cent more than buying the individual packs.

Mad Catz Partners for Retail Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition

Mad Catz has signed a deal with Dovetail Games for the exclusive retail distribution of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition. Mad Catz will distribute the boxed version of the game in America, Russia and the Asia Pacific area under its Saitek brand, and you get a nice coupon bonus along with the purchase.

“Our Saitek brand has long been recognized as the leader in simulation technology, and distributing FSX: Steam Edition allows consumers a one-stop-shop for their flight simulation software and hardware needs,” said Darren Richardson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mad Catz. “Whether you’re an experienced pilot or just want to fly, FSX: Steam Edition provides a great experience.”

Microsoft Flight Simulator X is probably one of the best flight simulators for enthusiast all around with support for almost any kind of extra hardware. With the Steam Edition you get the updated game with better Windows 7 and 8 support, the Accelerated Expansions pack and the deluxe version of the base game.

But the real kick is that Saitek includes a 15% discount code for your first flight simulation equipment. The Saitek First Flight Bundle includes the Pro Flight Yoke, Throttle, and Rudder Pedals – the basic setup that any real pilot will need.

Microsoft Flight Simulator X features

  • 24 Precisely-Rendered Aircraft-Pilot everything from single-prop planes to helicopters, fighter jets, and ultralights
  • Over 80 Engaging Missions-Test your flight sim skills as you visit 24,000 of the world’s airports
  • Thrilling Air Races-Fly solo offline or compete against online rivals for intense multiplayer action
  • Explore the World of Aviation-Experience realistic flight conditions including weather effects, seasonal changes, and time of day
  • Easy to Learn-Gameplay tutorial gets you airborne quickly, empowering you to track and improve your skills

The new retail version will be released on June 16th and it can already be pre-ordered for $19.99.

Mad Catz Announces Saitek X-55 RHINO H.O.T.A.S. System for PC

Mad Catz have announced today that the Saitek X-55 RHINO H.O.T.A.S. (Hands On Throttle and Stick), a product designed and developed to give flight simulation enthusiasts the most realistic flight experience at an affordable price, and it is expected to ship to consumers in early 2014.

The X-55 RHINO is styled after modern fighter jet control systems and was built from the ground up to deliver a multitude of customizable options never before seen in an H.O.T.A.S. system. Whether flying a modern fighter, single- or multi-engine aircraft, or even a retro single-seat plane, the X-55 RHINO supplies all the control surface options required to achieve the exact level of aerial performance aspiring pilots demand. The X-55 RHINO features enhanced 16-bit hall-effect sensors in the axes, four swappable springs for the joystick so you can dial in your preferred stick tension, and twin lockable throttles with a friction adjustment knob that can be set on the fly.

“Our Saitek brand strives to replicate reality and deliver a great experience to the flight simulation community,” said Darren Richardson, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mad Catz. “We believe the X-55 RHINO accomplishes these goals and is another example of our ability to deliver outstanding products to passionate consumers.”

Given that Mad Catz and of course Saitek are world renowned for creating some of the greatest flight stick and gaming controllers in the world, I really can’t wait to see this one in action. From a light cruise in MS Flight, to a chaotic game in World of Warplanes, this controller could be a lot of fun.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/5HkR7Z6Qvhs[/youtube]

Thank you Saitek for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Saitek.

Mad Catz Gamescom Launch Event Coverage

This weeks Gamescom event has been huge and one of the best things we have seen so far has to be the Mad Catz launch party, which played host to some great games, a chance to get hands on with the latest Mad Catz has to offer and some tasty local food too.

The biggest thing here of course is the Mad Catz STRIKE 3 keyboard which was revealed at the event as well as their latest Android console, next-gen compatibility and more.

The new wireless controller that can be paired via bluetooth was on show along side their new Android games console, the market is a little crowded with these kind of gaming systems in recent months so it will be interesting to see how it performs when we bring it in for review in the coming months.

There were plenty of things on offer, from prizes to gaming tournaments and even a world record holder for the speed run of Resident Evil 4 showing off his skills.

We don’t have many details on the keyboard and other peripherals right now, but enjoy the pictures and well be working hard to bring you more information from Mad Catz with reviews of their new products, as well as extra coverage from this weekends iSeries event in Telford.

Stay tuned for even more coverage of Gamescom over the next few days.

Mad Catz Cyborg F.R.E.Q.7 Headset Review

Mad Catz, Tritton, Saitek and Cyborg, you may know some of or all of these brand name, but one thing you may not know is that they’re all divisions of the same company. Mad Catz have been making quite a name for them selves recently and while they do have a strong history and some great products that span many years and several gaming generations, its their latest brands and products that have been taking the gaming world by storm.

Over the last year we’ve seen a few entries to the F.R.E.Q headset range, first up we had the F.R.E.Q.5 headset, the F.R.E.Q.5 Red and now the F.R.E.Q.7 which have come under the various brands such as Saitek, but are all fundamentally Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. Headsets. the F.R.E.Q.5 has long been my number 1 personal headset of choice, ever since I wrote the original review for the product it literally hasn’t gone a day without being used for my daily gaming, music and skype activities.

I was ecstatic to find out I would have the opportunity to review this headset, and there was only one question in my mind when I saw it “do I finally have a contender that could temp me away from the F.R.E.Q.5?” Well that is what I hope to find out today, but given the performance of the previous model, the F.R.E.Q.7 certainly has its work cut out.

Mad Catz have a very clear cut product naming strategy, one that is well demonstrated by their R.A.T. mouse range, the R.A.T3, R.A.T.5, .RA.T.7 and R.A.T9 rank in order of low to high in terms of features, performance and price. Starting with the 3, the most budget friendly and the 9 being the most feature-laden premium product. The same principle is applied to the F.R.E.Q.7 and while it looks almost exactly like the previous model it does have some upgraded hardware which we’ll be taking a closer look at in just a moment.

Even the packaging for the new headset bares a striking resemblance to the previous model, very little is different here, the only tell tale signs that we have a new product are the Dolby Digital Pro Logic II badge on the box and of course the new product name.

around the back of the box we have a quick run down of the major features of the set, the most notable being 7.1 surround sound and 50mm drivers. You can also see here the detachable microphone and a photograph of a headset stand that is now included with the device.

In the box I found a well written instruction booklet, detachable microphone, 3.5mm to USB braided cable, USB to USB braided cable and of course the headset its self.

The microphone feels very well made and features a highly adjustable boom, red LED mute indicator, and as you can see it’s also fully detachable from the headset.

The new headset features near identical construction to the F.R.E.Q.5 and this is no bad thing, the mixture of high quality metal and plastics still makes this one of the best made headsets on the market.

Each ear cup is finish a mixture of plastics, the softer looking main body and the glossy black which features the Mad Catz graphic. Here you can also see a small plastic circle on the ear cup, this is a removable cap to protect the microphone socket, Mad Catz have nicely included a little notch on the headset stand which will hold the plastic peg when you don’t require it.

The left ear cup features the Dolby and Microphone buttons, while the right holds a high quality, metal construction volume toggle wheel.

Exposed wire from the headband to the drivers has been lovingly covered with a black and red braiding that will help protect the cable, but also adds an extra styling touch.

Soft leather padding should provide extra comfort during long gaming sessions,and a hollow rubber strip on the headband is extra soft to touch, but still feel supportive when on your head. The headset is fully adjustable and features high quality sliders that shouldn’t wear out over time. The addition of having rotatable ear cups allow you to wear the headset around your neck, handy for when you need to take a few moments rest between games.

The plastic moulded base may not look much but its a perfect way of keeping your headset stored on your desk and a welcome addition to the bundle.

As you can see, the headset clips onto the base nicely, serving as much as a presentation display as it does a storage device. Here you can also see the detachable boom microphone.

Setup & Installation

For use on the PC Setup was as easy as plug-and-play as windows found the basic drivers with ease for the USB connection. Of course this can be even easier if you only wish to use the 3.5mm jack plug, which is even compatible with smartphones to allow for use as a mobile headset, MP3 players or just about any 3.5mm equipped audio device.

The official software can be download from the Mad Catz website and this allows you to control volume, EQ and dolby on/off settings. Dolby mode only works via the USB cable and is not a feature you can use via the 3.5mm jack plug on something like an MP3 player.

Music

When I reviewed the F.R.E.Q.5 I put the headset through its paces with a whole range of music and was amazed by the quality and also the performance of the various EQ settings. Judging from the specification on the box the F.R.E.Q.7 features identical drivers but after just a few songs I am certain they have made some tweaks and changes to the performance. Bass, mid tones and high frequencies are clearer than ever and I’ll be damned if I can think of a headset that sounds this good at playing back my music, excluding maybe a few pro audio focused sets that cost several hundred pounds more.

Movies

Movies was much the same as music, simply jaw dropping clarity for stereo drivers and the Dolby mode does an impressive job of giving you a wide audio field, bringing the sound away from your ears and filling the virtual room. I tend to find that virtual Dolby tech can be a little disappointing and that it tends to hollow out the sound, yet it looses none of its punch here.

Gaming

Gaming is the real winner for the F.R.E.Q.7 as this is fundamentally what it was designed to do and its definitely where it shines through the most. The high quality microphone is perfect for online gaming, the powerful drivers manage to keep the low rumbles of bass in Battlefield 3 free of distortion and the wind in Skyrim can be heard roaring behind you with the Dolby mode enabled.

General Performance

I use my personal F.R.E.Q.5 every day and I decided to put the F.R.E.Q.7 through all my daily tasks, long Skype calls, listening to music, gaming, wasting time on YouTube and most importantly to me playing my guitar, which I have loopped through my PC. I have to wear a headset for about 6 hours a day and its important that its comfortable and performs to an enjoyable standard on a daily basis and The F.R.E.Q.7 didn’t fail me once.

 

I think its pretty obvious at this point that I really like the F.R.E.Q.7, and I fear I may have come across somewhat smitten with the headset yet even though that may be the case, its for good reason.

The quality of the materials used in their construction and the overall build quality here is second to none, the overall finish is of a premium, high quality and highly durable product, add the general attention to detail that has gone into their design and overall style, which I admit may not be to everyone liking, but that much is true of any product and your already an long way to justifying the three digit price tag that goes with them.

While build quality and style alone can be enough to tempt some people to make the purchase, the thing that really matters to me is the audio performance and best in class sound quality is something that the F.R.E.Q.7 seems to do with ease, its virtually faultless in its execution of even the most demanding audio selections right across their full volume range and that is a rare thing in any headset. Not that you would want to take these to max volume of course as the drivers are likely to blow your ear drums before long.

Priced at around £130 / $200 US the F.R.E.Q.7 is far from cheap, but you do get a lot for your money in terms of quality and performance, so much so that I would still say the headset is excellent value for money. If you want to be amazed I can’t recommend the F.R.E.Q.5 headset enough, it’s about 30% cheaper, looks near identical and out performs just about anything on the market today, but if you want to be blown away then you need to be saving up for this model, plus you get a free plastic stand to display them on, and every extra feature counts when your spending over a £100.

I’ve already upgraded my headset to a F.R.E.Q.7, and that makes this a true editors choice product, the question for me now is, will it ever be topped, maybe Mad Catz will make a F.R.E.Q.9 and change the rule book once again, but only time will tell.