I recently "upgraded" from a Saitek X52 joystick to a Thrustmaster T.16000M. This is a bit of a review.
I was using an X52 non-Pro version HOTAS for a long time. The stick eventually had axis drift problems, so I applied a magnet mod to it (see: http://riseofflight.com/forum/topic/48331-how-saitek-x52-neodymium-magnet-mod-fix-axis-drift-issues/ ). The magnets helped for a while, but unfortunately, they could only help so much as it appears that the stick and/or the cable that attaches it to the throttle were deteriorating too much. I just encountered too many occasions where I had to unplug and plug that cable in order to get it calibrated properly. The frustration associated with that was becoming unbearable, so I had enough.
After a lot of forum searches and reading, I decided to keep the X52 throttle, but replaced the stick with a budget-friendly Thrustmaster T.16000M. A helluva lot of people seem to like it, so I gave it a try and am happy that I did so.
The Thrustmaster T.16000M is indeed a stiffer stick as people had mentioned, but I'm glad it is. Twist rudder control is far more precise than it ever was on the X52. All in all, aircraft and gunnery control is accurate and far superior to what my X52 was ever able to produce. As an example, I had been practicing convoy runs using the X52 and had a difficult time, both in hitting my targets and with my maneuvers, but after switching sticks, I was more able to handle those maneuvers AND was able to destroy the convoys (although it still takes a bit of time). Just when I was beginning to think I should return to playing Windows Solitaire, the change in hardware showed me that I'm not as crappy a pilot as I thought I was .
From the things I had read, some people complained about the T.16000M grip/rest, and I have to agree. It’s nowhere near as comfortable as the X52 was with its adjustable grip. The T.16000M grip is a bit hard on the hands and the arms, and definitely takes some getting used to. If anyone has any tips or tricks to improve the comfort with this stick, please post. The trigger is responsive and actually feels better than the X52's. The T.16000M has some good weight to it, so it doesn't move around at all, whereas with the X52, I had to run screws up through the pedestal that the stick sat on, so that the stick could sit on the screws and keep in place.
As far as buttons are concerned, you do lose the neat, covered button (good for bombs) and the extra hat that the X52 has, as well as the pinky switch, which is in a nice convenient button for TS press-to-talk, but it's all an easy-to-swallow trade off for the performance, feel, and improvement that the T.16000M brings. In the process of reconfiguring the keys and button assignments, I realized that the three square buttons in front of the multi function display on the X52 throttle are assignable too, so I actually gained three button assignments that I never knew I had (doh!).
Grip comfort aside, the real problem I have with the T.16000M is .. THE @#$%^&* GREEN LIGHT! I imagine that the Thrustmaster design meeting went something like this:
Designer #1: So I have this idea. We should, ummmm, like install a green plastic plate with a light underneath it, so that it shines brightly when the user is using the stick. It would be so awesome!
Designer #2: Why in hell would you want to do that?
Designer #1: Well, ummmm, so they'll know the stick isn't dead center, but ummmm, well, more importantly, because it's green. And it's bright. Very bright. And did I mention that it's green? And that it's awesome?
Designer #2: But if someone flies a sim like RoF where you are constantly dealing with a pitch-up situation, the light will always be on.
Manager: Who cares! This idea is really awesome! Implement it!
What I plan to do is un-solder the light's wire from the board, which can be seen in picture #4 here: http://www.wikihow.com/Disable-the-Green-Light-on-a-Thrustmaster-T.16000M-Joystick. Un-soldering is better than cutting, and is reversible in the event you need to get the unit serviced under warranty.
Lastly, the T.16000M works fine using the base Windows driver, so I didn't even bother updating it to an official Thrustmaster driver. I'm not using the Target software that came with it, seeing that with most joysticks, profile software isn't really necessary in RoF. Having said that, I'm curious if anyone else is using Target anyways, and what advantage does it bring in doing so?
So having said all that, if anyone is tired of their X52 joystick (or any stick), I recommend an "upgrade" to the T.16000M. Overall, it's a very good stick.