ACT Labs

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Act Labs appears to be determined to come out with innovative approaches to gaming. The Eaglemax HYPER programmable joystick is another example of putting it all at your fingertips.

Eaglemax has all the features that you would expect from today's serious joystick, plus the feature of a thrust controller and multi programmable buttons and toggle switches; HYPER programming in Act Lab's terms. Anyone who spends a lot of time on flight simulators will tell you that power control is fundamental, be it on an educational flight simulator or a mind scattering combat game. There is nothing more annoying than having to hold down a plus or minus key to vary your throttle. It just slows things down and keeps you from a good approach in gusty conditions or meeting up with that tanker hose for in- flight refueling. Watch your flying improve simply by having smooth and variable control of your power settings. Built to last, Eaglemax looks like the next standard in joysticks.

Fate has a funny way of throwing things your way. I had been using a Wingman joystick for over a year and it was time for a replacement. Having cursed the plus and minus keys one too many times, I was determined to get a joystick with thrust control. I dragged my brother the pilot out to the stores and we tried all of what was out there. Name the brand, and we gave it the "once over". One of the biggest complaints we both had was that you either had to buy two units to get thrust control or you were paying too much for something that had throttle, but you left you wishing for more features for your hard-earned cash. On the cheaper models, it was obvious that the quality was lacking. Combat games tend to be a little hard on joysticks and we had used enough of them to spot potential breakage. I was getting discouraged as there did not seem to be a product that had what I wanted. I'm not afraid to pay for quality, but it had better be there for the kind of money we consumers are expected to put forth. Just about that time, the Eaglemax showed up for review. Skeptical at first, I decided to put this joystick through a rigorous and lengthy test. I was not disappointed...


I usually review flight simulators and flying combat software and for this hardware review, I used DID's EF-2000 and Microsoft's FS5. Both are demanding programs, and have an array of keyboard commands that demand attention. The Eaglemax comes with four preset macros plus the ability for you to program individual or multiple keystrokes and save them in the joystick's memory or a file on your hard drive. Yes, the Eaglemax is an active joystick with programmable memory. Why is this important? Let's look at a situation in EF-2000 where I came to really appreciate programmable keys. One of the tasks in EF-2000 is in-flight refueling. This involves extending the fuel probe, setting the heads-up display for range counting and calling for clearance to join formation an refuel. While this is going on, you are flying an intercept course and trying to match your speed and altitude. Fingers busy yet? What Eaglemax does is allow you to take all those keystrokes and program them into one button thereby leaving you free to do the thing that really demands your attention; fly. The flight models in the newer simulators are getting so sophisticated at calculating inertia and other forces that you just can't expect to get by using a keyboard to control thrust. I reviewed EF-2000 using the keys for throttle on in-flight refueling and finally had to get my younger brother to be the throttle control! Running into the refueling plane makes you mighty unpopular with the crew! Using the throttle wheel on the Eaglemax, I could set up manageable closure speeds that didn't leave me stabbing the air brakes or waving to the flight crew as I zipped by. Control on Microsoft's flight simulator was positive and smooth with the joystick itself which has the expected eight position coolie hat, three thumb buttons and index-finger fire button. Once again, the throttle made all the difference on approaches using everything from a BD-10 supersonic single seat plane to the 777 by Boeing. The control is smooth both in feel and in relating input to the game port. This review entailed over two months of testing using the joystick extensively. It performs and feels as new as when I took it out of the box. The throttle wheel has lost none of its smooth motion and the joystick has no sloppiness to it.

Programming the Eaglemax simply involves turning on the setup switch, holding down the button you want to program and typing the respective keys you want activated when the joystick button is pressed. There are ten buttons on the Eaglemax that can hold up to ten keystrokes and there are four macros that can be reprogrammed from the four that are there initially.

The Eaglemax is constructed from high impact plastic with a steel base as its core. There is a rocker style switch on the left and eight buttons on the lower portion of its base. The throttle wheel is located on the left section of the base just to the right of the rocker switch. The joystick grip is encased in rubber which is molded for the right hand. The right side of the base holds the setup, macro, auto-fire, and throttle/view switch. There are rubber feet on the base and because of the weight of the steel chassis, the joystick stays securely where it is put.

The ergonomics on the joystick have been well thought out and there is a rest for your hand so that you can grip it lightly. The only complaints I have from the ergonomic side is that the fire button is not rounded and the grip seems a little big for my hand. Every button is still within easy reach and the feel of the dampened controls is very comfortable. There is no clunky feel in the product.


This is the second product I have reviewed by ACT Labs and they are definitely out to win customer satisfaction. The products are well constructed and much thought has gone into what the game player wants in an interface. This is the kind of thinking that will win buyer loyalty.

Written by Jeffrey Waters

Suggested Retail Price: $59.99


Ease of Use:94%
Quality of materials:94%


ACT Labs,
120-13571 Commerce Parkway,
Richmond, BC V6V 2R2,


Web site: ACT Labs
Technical Support: ACT Labs Technical Support

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