Howdy, I just picked this beast up the other day, and doing a search through these forums looks like nobody has talked much about it, so here is my review.
Saitek X65f Force sensing Flightstick & Throttle.
Very secure and snug in molden soft foam. Make sure you search the foam thurouly before throwing away, there are 2 or 3 pieces that are seemingly encased in the foam itself. Careful examination will reveal that sections of the foam are not part of the whole but just very stuggly packed.
Very easy. Minimal instruction. The only assembly are the control panels on the throttle and a handrest and baseplate on te stick. One of the panels lets you select mode and force setting, while the other is just a placeholder for other panels you may wish to buy. The baseplate on the throttle is there for fastening your stick onto a surface, which is absolutely required (read on). There are velcro strips you fasten to the bottom of the plate and your hard surface. The stick can be released from the plate with four screws on the top of the base of the stick. All of these parts are fastened to where they need to be with included screws and Allen key. The handrest is a bit confusing , not sure what it's for, I think it's to elevate your hand, but doing so would cover a button on the lower front of the stick. It may be just for show, there is no instruction explaining what it is.
Aside from the drivers and a Lock On: Flaming Cliffs demo it comes with a profiler and calibration program to tune individual force settings, deadzones, button mapping, and macros.
Very solid, there is no way *knocks on wood* I'm breaking this.
Great, all the buttons are easily reached and functional. It does suffer from one problem though:
Some games where the 2 throttles would be locked together as one do not behave properly, so the best you can achieve is 0% - 55% throttle, inless you leave the two halves unlocked and use only the left throttle, which makes reaching the buttons on the right half awkward. There is no way to disable the right throttle in the included software. Fortunelatly a search for "X65F REGFIX_V2" will offer a zipfile with the included regestry fixes to disable the right throttle (Apparently there is an issue with the mini stick working properly on the throttle as well, though I haven't experienced it myself).
The main feature of the X65f is the force sensing technology. The stick doesn't actually move, so it is very solid and doesn't feel like it would break from overstressing it. Instead it senses how much force is being applied in each direction, including yaw via twisting. Apparently this is what modern jet fighters use. As cool as this sounds I actually found this to be the stick's biggest problem and is why I am hoping to exchange it.
In any flight sim, the aircraft can only react so much to stick input, and no matter how much pressure you apply on the stick the aircraft will not respond beyond what it is able. With a normal moving stick you pretty much know what this threshhold is when the stick doesn't move anymore without you breaking it. With a force sensing stick you have zero tactile feedback telling you what the limits are, so you end up applying more and more pressure when the aircraft is already at its maximum threshhold of control response. This can be exhausting on your arm, especially of you are using the twist action for yaw. If you are using it for helicopters, forget about it.
Another problem are the buttons accessed with your thumb. This is a very large stick, and I got pretty big hands, and even I find the 3 hats hard to reach. It's easy to tell by touch which is which, but the single "pickle" button is so close to the hats that you'll sometimes make inputs on the hats when reaching for the button. Also, it's very hard to pitch down or yaw when using your thumb on any of the buttons. The problem is that the there is less of your hand on the back of the stick when using your thumb on a button, making it difficult to apply foward pitch or right yaw. If you are using this to play any helicopter combat sim then this is a big handicap unless you map your controls in such a way that you are not using any of the hats.
It's a very professional and solid unit. Everything you could need. I would say this product would be excellent value, despite its flaws, at $200, but with a whopping pricetag of $400 I do not recommend it.
[Actually, it's available for $319 at the FS Pilot Shop: http://www.fspilotshop.com/product_info.php?products_id=2527 ]