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Microsoft Flight Simulator is even better with this Airbus flight stick

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Unless you are a hardcore fan of flight simulators, you probably don’t have a flight stick at your desk. There was a time when flight sticks, or more generic “joysticks,” were an essential PC gaming accessory, but Windows’ support for Xbox-style gamepads grew as the demand for games that simulate aerial and space combats decreased. Now, they’re somewhat of a niche product.

That may well change this year. Tomorrow sees the launch of Microsoft Flight Simulator, a gorgeous and ambitious project that marks an incredible upgrade for the series — and it’ll be available to anyone on Xbox Game Pass. Later this fall, meanwhile, Star Wars: Squadrons promises to re-create the tense space battles of the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games from the ’90s. I wouldn’t dream of playing either with a gamepad, so I wanted to find a good entry-level flight stick that’ll do them justice.

I expect that Thrustmaster’s new $69.99 Airbus-branded Sidestick, which I’ve been testing for a while, will be a popular choice. (Its full name is the TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition.) It’s designed as a 1:1 replica of the sidestick used in the Airbus A320 — a famous differentiator from Boeing’s traditional yokes — and it works with Microsoft Flight Simulator right out of the box without any need for setup.

I wouldn’t describe the Sidestick as a premium product, as it does feel a little plasticky in places. But overall, I was impressed for the price. The base is solid enough, the movement of the stick itself is convincing, and it’s just vastly more satisfying to use than a gamepad.

The Sidestick is not lacking in input options or customizability. There are 12 buttons on the base and four on the stick, as well as an 8-way hat switch (for looking around the cockpit), a twist lock, and a throttle slider that can be configured to serve as an extra “button” at the bottom of its throw. The stick also ships with swappable side buttons that let you set it up as the right or left seat of an airliner based on where you place the wider red button module, or you can go with the narrow or wide options on both sides.

The throttle slider is the Sidestick’s biggest weak point. It feels flimsy, and the markings on the stick’s base don’t do much to help you gauge positioning. It does the job, though, and if you want to upgrade down the line, this Sidestick is compatible with Thrustmaster’s TCA ecosystem of pedals and throttles. A matching $99.99 Airbus throttle quadrant is set to ship next month.

I can’t claim to be experienced in the mechanics of flying actual planes, but I can say that Microsoft Flight Simulator feels infinitely more convincing with this Thrustmaster Sidestick than an Xbox gamepad. The way it provides more resistance and gives you finer control over three axes of movement in the air is really not something you can replicate with a little thumbstick. A stick like this, if not this specific one, should be considered essential for Flight Simulator.

In preparation for Star Wars: Squadrons, I also went back and tested the Sidestick with some old games like TIE Fighter and X-Wing Alliance, and it worked great, despite being ostensibly designed for simulating civil aviation. These Star Wars games relied heavily on keyboard controls back in the day even if you did have a joystick, but the Sidestick’s banks of programmable buttons are useful for things like managing shields and laser power on the fly.

If you’re interested in these games, you should really think about getting a flight stick, and Thrustmaster’s TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition is about as solid an entry-level option as I could imagine. At $69.99, it’s in the ballpark of regular Xbox One controller pricing, but it offers something entirely different. The only problem might be getting your hands on one since it’s already out of stock through Microsoft — but if you can, it comes highly recommended for what it is.

Photography by Sam Byford / The Verge

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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