MEGATech Reviews: TAB360 Universal Racing Gaming Wheel Stand for Smartphones and Tablets

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MEGATech Reviews: TAB360 Universal Racing Gaming Wheel Stand for Smartphones and Tablets   C360 2012 11 23 18 16 14 500x296

The Diamond Multimedia TAB360 wheel serves a dual purpose, acting as both a tablet display stand for hands-free use and as a controller for gaming apps that use the tablet’s gyroscopic capabilities. The accessory comes in two separate pieces – the wheel and the base – and putting it together is as simple as holding down a button and sliding the wheel into place. The wheel not only rotates 360 degrees but its balljoint allows for a wide range of motion. The three patches of tread on the bottom of the base do a decent job of holding the unit steady on whatever table or desk you’re using it on, but once things get real, that thing will start rockin’.

Get Your Motor Runnin’

The wheel and base are both made of plastic and weigh a little under two pounds. Despite its lightness, it doesn’t feel cheaply made, feeling just as solid as plastic accessories get. I tested it out using an Amazon Kindle Fire, which fit snuggly into the unit’s adjustable grip. I was a little worried about that, because it adjusts in increments, which may not allow for a perfect fit for all tablet sizes. Fortunately, there are also adjustable clamps that help hold the device in place, making up for any fitting problems.

MEGATech Reviews: TAB360 Universal Racing Gaming Wheel Stand for Smartphones and Tablets   IMG 20121119 181636 500x375

The first think I did was fire up a racing sim, GT Racing: Motor Academy – Hyundai Edition, which the wheel is undoubtedly best suited for. I rested the wheel on the table in front of me, as holding it in your lap feels unnatural and limiting. I went into the game’s control settings and activated auto-accelerate, so that I wouldn’t have to keep my thumb on the screen at all times. It began well enough. Going slow and taking light turns, the wheel seemed to promise a lot of fun. You may not think it, but there’s a big difference between turning a tablet in your hands and turning an actual steering wheel. It felt authentic, which was pretty cool even for a non-racing fan like myself.

Unfortunately, once I stopped playing the game casually and began to take it seriously, the whole experience kind of fell apart.

Too Fast, Too Furious

MEGATech Reviews: TAB360 Universal Racing Gaming Wheel Stand for Smartphones and Tablets   C360 2012 11 23 18 15 34 500x296

The first problem I noticed was with the touch screen controls. It’s far from intuitive to either stretch your thumb over or take one hand off of the wheel completely whenever you have to hit the touch screen. Even though I turned on auto-accelerate, and I was using automatic instead of manual transmission, I still had to use the touch screen for the brake. Since I couldn’t let off the gas, I had to brake when going around corners, which meant having less control of the wheel at times when it’s possibly the most vital.

Another problem that cropped up as things got more heated is the wheel’s inability to remain on one axis. As you turn left and right, the wheel will start to go up and down. The more serious the turn, the harder it is to keep the wheel from rotating away from you. I’m no engineer, but this doesn’t seem like it would’ve been hard to fix by just implementing something that holds the wheel in place.

MEGATech Reviews: TAB360 Universal Racing Gaming Wheel Stand for Smartphones and Tablets   IMG 20121119 181949 500x375

Finally, there are the issues that arise from turning the actual display that you’re looking at, which isn’t a problem that the wheel presents, but an inherent problem with tablet racing games that the wheel just happens to amplify. As you make sharp turns, so does your tablet, and your entire display goes sideways. Either you have you to move your head with it or risk losing your bearings. Again, this isn’t a problem with the wheel itself, but using the controller certainly makes it more apparent.

The MEGATechie Upside and Downsides

MEGATech Reviews: TAB360 Universal Racing Gaming Wheel Stand for Smartphones and Tablets   C360 2012 11 23 18 18 28 500x296

Given the problems I had keeping the wheel straight, I downloaded a flight sim which would take advantage of every axis of the wheel’s movement. In certain respects, the wheel performed better, but I ended up having to take it off the base for the full range of movement that the plane needed.

On the upside, as a display stand, the TAB360 performed admirably. It’s great for watching videos and such without having to hold your tablet. On the downside, its shortcomings as a controller in no way justify the $60 price tag. There is some fun to be had with the wheel, but it’s hidden in a mountain of frustration.

About

Dylan Duarte is a freelance writer who's covered videogames, film, television, and now tech! Be sure to check out his site, Dylan Reviews Everything, and follow him on Twitter: @dylanduarte.

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