• Review: Saitek Pro Flight Multi Panel

    Saitek Pro Flight Multi Panel Auto Pilot Functions

    By Nigel C. Martin (6 November 2009)

    Here we go again, a non program based review. Why? Well the fairly heavy clue is in the title. Yup, another box of very clever tricks on offer to make our journey that much realistic. I have to say I love the offerings thus far from Saitek. OK, not all perfect, in some areas, as I have commented upon in my previous reviews, BUT and it is a BIG but, the points raised as areas of possible improvement are very minor, and does not detract from the overall quality and effectiveness of the hardware.

    I fully appreciate the price tag on these various Pro Flight Panels may be on the high side. But, you know there is an adage; and it goes, "If you want quality you have to be expected to pay for it".

    I must also say there other manufacturers who produce very similar units, and in fairness, I have not reviewed these, so I will not say these are the very best on the market, but equally you will have to go some way to better the Saitek offerings. Not only do they look the part, they function as intended... Need I say more? (My personal opinion of course...)

    My small 'bank' of instruments look very smart nestling under my monitor. I smile every time I switch on FSX, all the LEDs come alive, and really looks very smart indeed.

    I do not have the Flight Yoke, I use the X-52 Pro joystick/throttle units, which I adore, and given me years of trouble free service. If I did have the yoke, the Pro Flight switch panels are designed to fit onto it. If you buy all the offerings, there is quite a collection of switches and dials on top of the yoke unit. I am sure great to use, but for me, it would look a tad busy. I have two panels affixed to my desk with the use of Velcro provided, under my monitor and works brilliantly. And let's be honest looks, well, business like.

    Quite amusingly, when visiting friends see the array, they are all very impressed by the professional looking collection, especially if one does not know what Nav1 Coms 1 ADF or DME AP Auto Throttle Pitch Trim mean (all being on display on the two units on show).

    However, I will not tell you what my wife says at my Saitek ensemble!

    What Is Included?

    Almost ripping the covering off the new delivery presented another box, showing the product clearly on the front. Lovely use of spot UV varnish on the pictures that add a gloss to the product's pictures; actually the package feels of real quality. If you are very lucky to have purchased the other panels on offer, the packaging looks very similar. Not exactly surprising I guess. The packaging uniformity creates a sense of the Pro Flight family.

    Opening the box, there is a large inner container with an expanded black dense foam holder, and with the instrument sitting snugly in it. You will find a small CD-ROM (drivers), a great Users Guide and the obligatory USB connecting cable, and a number of knurled topped screws and Velcro. You can use these to attach the unit to the Saitek yoke, or to other Saitek Pro Panels, or indeed stand alone. I have my new multi-panel physically attached to the coms panel. These fit very snugly under my Dell monitor.

    The unit itself exudes quality, and you realise this is a fine high tech piece of equipment. It has a protective plastic film on the screen which you remove before use.

    Looking at the front of the panel. On the left hand side there is 1 twist 5 function switch, allowing for ALT, VS, IAS, HDG, CRS. Mid panel there is a large screen displaying the LED numbers, and let me tell you, they are superbly displayed, tremendous clarity.

    Under the screen, you have a master AP button. When selected, by pressing it, it illuminates white once selected. To the right, 7 orange buttons, having HDG, NAV, IAS, ALT, VS, APR, REV; any of these selected glow orange.

    To make the digits selection, to the right of the screen, there is a knurled knob, with a smooth action allowing for easy digit selection (+-)

    Still to the right, there can be found an AUTO-THROTTLE toggle switch witch has OFF & ARM options. Below that a FLAPS rocker switch, allowing for UP & DN inputs. To the extreme right, there is a ROTORY PITCH TRIM wheel; this has some nice resistance, making the action purposeful.

    There we have it, the description. Oh yes, I forgot to mention, and pretty obviously the unit is exactly the same dimensions as the other Pro Panels on offer. This commonality allows the owner to join them together in a uniform manner. The plastic frame included allows for a raked back view, which is excellent, so it can still be used as a stand-alone item.

    And VERY handsome they look too.

    What the box says:

    • A set of switches and LED display for use in controlling various aspects of flight simulation. Includes:
      • Full autopilot panel with associated setting controls
      • Auto throttle
      • Flaps
      • Elevator trim wheel
    • Works with Microsoft Flight Simulator X and 2004
    • LED displays work fully in real time with Flight Simulator X and 2004, removing the need to bring the autopilot up on screen
    • Use the dial to adjust frequency units incrementally for quicker selection of your required frequency
    • Mounts onto the Pro Flight Yoke System (sold separately) or into your own home cockpit setup

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