The ubiquitous square, X, triangle, circle, and directional pad present themselves, although you won't necessarily want to use the wheel for nondriving games. The buttons are convenient for navigating menus and using special functions on cars, such as nitro boosts and hand-brake maneuvers. Depending on how you drive, your hand might brush against some of these buttons, which could cause you to accidentally push them. Fortunately, the wheel has numerous comfortable positions to allow for more careful hand placement.
Logitech's implementation of the R1, R2, L1, L2, Start, and Select buttons differ from the normal buttons, coming instead in a low-profile, silver finish. Their tactile response left something to be desired. The combination of short button travel and quiet action makes you second-guess whether or not you ever pushed the button.
The gear-shifting paddles on the underside of the wheel have a long throw, but you'll know when you've reached the end of their motion when you hear the audible "clunk" sound. The paddles seem to be of a sturdy build and will most likely stand up through normal wear and tear. Logitech decided not to include the stick shift on the Driving Force, opting to include that feature only on the more expensive Driving Force Pro. But in all honesty, once you use the paddles to shift gears, you aren't going to be using the stick shifter for much other than an impromptu game of horseshoes.
We attached the Driving Force to our table via two large top-mounted octagonal screws. The process took all of a minute and proved rather painless. Once we secured the wheel, it didn't budge for the remainder of our driving session. Putting the Driving Force away after use was equally easy--a few quick turns released the wheel's hold on the table and allowed us to remove it for storage. Do take care, though, as our table sustained a few permanent scratches while we were attaching the wheel. It would have been perfect had Logitech put some rubber feet on the underside of the Driving Force to prevent table damage.
Inside the box, we also found a laptop attachment device for the Driving Force, designed to allow you to play with the wheel on your lap. In theory, this device might work, but in practice, we found the laptop attachment device rather disappointing. With nothing to secure the wheel to a stationary point, it merely moved around between our legs. With the Driving Force between our legs, turning the wheel gave us imprecise control under ideal conditions. Suffice it to say, if you're serious about racing, playing with the Driving Force in your lap isn't going to be an option.
We can talk all we want about secure attachment surfaces and how the buttons feel, but if the actual wheel control isn't up to snuff, we might as well go back to a regular gamepad. For a wheel to be successful, it must provide predictable, precise movement. Overall, we found the Driving Force to be accurate, allowing us to race with near perfection. Upon powering up the console, we found that the autocalibration ensured the wheel was dead-on every time we rolled out, allowing us to execute effortless turns in Gran Turismo 4.
After testing the wheel unit, we gave the pedals a thorough stomping and found them to be adequate. Although the Driving Force's pedal structure is considerably lighter than that of the Driving Force Pro, we found that the pedals didn't move around very much under normal driving conditions. But we would have been happier had Logitech included more than four rubber pads to keep the structure better stuck to the carpet.
Logitech's implementation of force feedback on the Driving Force provided the usual smattering of rumbles, shakes, and jolts in sufficient quantity and intensity. However, the force feedback is light years away from the quality exuded by the Driving Force Pro. Fighting the force feedback on the Driving Force didn't prove to be too difficult. Usually, victory over the wheel's motors resulted in a range of unexpected free motion, causing the wheel to spin quickly in the direction it was turned.
We've come to terms with the fact that spending more money will buy you a better racing wheel. There are better wheels than the Driving Force on the market, but the Driving Force costs nearly half as much with its $50 to $75 price tag. Compared to other wheels in the price segment, the Logitech Driving Force represents the best value by providing an excellent balance of control, build quality, and features.