Pimp Your Wheel: SRH Monsta Reviewed!
It was about a month ago when Brian, speaking for Simracinghardware.com, told us all about their newest product – a (monstrous) display called Monsta. It was meant to unify several displays in a pretty housing and enable sim racers to have everything available without looking at serveral screens above, below or wherever around their screens. Some weeks passed and the Monsta arrived on July 18th (at least mine).
So, what should you do after you just spent around 290€ (and some more money on P&P, but P&P was reasonable!) on your newest toy? Preparation is everything they say and, needless to say, your rig needs to be modified for this thing. Weighting in at 0.8kg, it isn’t exactly light but not too heavy, so that it can still be attached to the bottom of a screen, if you want to. SRH also have their own dedicated sub-forum on RD, offering config files, hints and, if everything else fails, quick & easy support.
I opted to use a piece of MDF wood, so that I can attach it easily behind my T500 wheel. A metal piece would’ve been better and I’d advise everyone to spend some money on attaching it to your rig or screens – it’s not only worth it but it’s gonna need it. I had never owned such a display before, so starting to use it was connected to some challenges – the software, SimDash, isn’t always easy to use and having to play games without your beloved hud, all of a sudden, can be weird as well. It will take some time but it’s definitely worth the effort. A complete list of all the games & features supported by the software can be found here.
(Apparently I’m so quick, my position isn’t even displayed anymore after one of my stops in Hungary!)
Whilst the display overwhelmingly good, I ran into several software issues. All of them are caused by one of the games I used to review the display, CodeMasters F1 2011 – not the display or it’s software itself. It’s very limited in it’s capability to submit data through it’s API and the data submitted isn’t even correct all the time. For example, the display had always shown by best lap times to be different to the times displayed on the OSD within the game. Not by much, 0.001 to 0.003 seconds, but it’s still odd that the API doesn’t handle data the same way the OSD does. On the other hand, rFactor2 was simply awesome and I haven’t had any issues – it worked flawless right out of the box.
The display itself adds a whole lot of immersion to playing racing games and it’s a whole new feeling. The problem is that the software adds limitations and issues that destroy this immersion, partially, immediately again. A few of them are that F1 2011 does reset the data displayed after you leave the pits. That means it won’t display your position anymore (I guess until you overtake someone and thus your place changes, I’ve been in the lead by a whole country mile) & your fastest lap is being reset. This is just an example since I opted to display those 2 values in addition to my RPM, gear indicator & current speed. Those issues, however, are all caused by the game – SimDash can only display what the game is delivering. And, to be honest, F1 2011 isn’t exactly generous when it comes to that feature.
(To be fair: I didn’t play F1 2011 in weeks and uh…not having an OSD after all those years doesn’t make it easier either! Yeah well, you got me: I suck at racing games.)
Update August 5 2012: apparently the list of supported features was wrong, which isn’t the fault of SRH!!! Position information is _NOT_ supported by F1 2011, I’ve changed the display to show laps instead of position and it’s working perfectly fine!
The Monsta is definitely worth your money if you’re using either several wheels (i.e. G27 + T500) or several rims for your wheel (i.e. GT + F1 rim on a T500) – in that case you’d need several SLI-PRO displays (for example) to achieve the same result. If you’re, however, not a hardcore sim racer or use one wheel & rim only you might be better off modding your wheel and putting everything on there. The downside of this would be that you can’t easily move your modifications to your next wheel and that’s something you can easily do if you’re going for the Monsta. Be prepared to spend some time on learning how to drive like you did before, tho. As you can see in my video, it’s not easy if you’re used to having an OSD and you’ll need time to compensate for that.
Price – 8/10 (judging the base price, not P&P)
Quality – 9/10 (quality of the displays & housing)
Usability – 10/10 (depends on which games you play)
Overall – 9/10
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