Ultimarc E-Stik Joystick
Review by Kevin Steele
The Ultimarc E-Stik Joystick
Want a joystick that can be installed in under a minute? How about one that can "twist" into position for Q-Bert? The Ultimarc E-Stik is just what you need.
The Ultimarc E-Stik (or "Easy Mount") joystick lives up to it's name. It's the easiest joystick in the roundup to install, requiring you to just drill a hole. No mounting hardware required — everything required to attach the joystick is integrated into the joystick itself.
The E-Stik is a short-throw joystick with an unusual handle shape and a unique square top mounting plate that covers the mounting hole (in other words, sloppy drilling isn't a problem! ;-)
It also features a easy-twisting restrictor plate on the bottom of the joystick for switching between 4 and 8-way operation (no disassembling the joystick necessary!)
This is obviously the E-Stik's main claim to fame, and it is a cinch to install, especially with the easy twist-off bottom (I'm going to be mentioning "twisting" a lot in this review, so just get used to it ;-) The bottom part of the joystick, which houses the microswitches, simply pops off with a 90° twist. The top mounting plate is threaded, with a thumbscrew and rubber washer for secure mounting.
To install the E-Stik, you simply twist off the bottom, twist off the thumbscrew and rubber washer, drop the top part of the assembly into the hole, and twist everything back together underneath (see, I told you I was going to be using the word "twist" a lot!) It can be done in under a minute, and aside from drilling the hole the installation process requires no tools.
The E-Stik can be mounted in both metal and wood control panels. I did discover that you don't need to use the rubber washer when installing in a wood control panel — strangely enough, if you do use the washer you may not be able to engage the L/R directions (strange but true).
The E-Stik is another "short-throw" joystick, but with 10° maximum travel it does offer more range of motion than some of the other short throw joysticks in the roundup. The joystick engages at about 7°, giving it a feel somewhere between the Happs-style joysticks and the ultra-short throw T-Stik and OmniStik joysticks.
The handle shape of the E-Stik is unique, and I found it fit my hand well. Strangely enough, even though the joystick is a quarter inch higher than the standard Happs Competition, the raised mounting plate on the E-Stik make it feel "smaller."
The E-Stik is a firm joystick, requring more pressure to engage than most joysticks. Circular motions were similar in feel to the Happs Competition, with only a moderate "clunkiness" due to the restrictor plate.
Sound and Size
The sound of the E-Stik isn't bad at all, just very slightly louder than the Happs Competition. It obviously can't match the silence of the P360 optical joystick, but I never found it annoying.
Like I mentioned earlier, the E-Stik sits about 1/4" higher than the Happs Competition, yet feels smaller due to the raised mounting plate and the skinny handle shape (1" wide vs. the Competition's 1.5")
The handle shape had a nice feel in my hand, although it does take a bit of getting used to due to that "small" feeling.
The E-Stik plays a bit differently than most of the other joysticks, due to the firmer springs used and the short-throw design. It requires quick, firm pushes to engage, which can be good or bad, depending on your taste in joysticks. I didn't find it annoying, just different.
Diagonals were on the generous side at 20°, and seemed relatively easy to hit. Once again, like other directions, you need a decisive push to engage them.
One of the E-Stik's other claims to fame is the ability to quickly switch to 45° operation for games such as Q-Bert. This can be accomplished in two ways — by leaving the mounting slightly loose and swiveling the entire joystick assembly, or by twisting the switch assembly on the bottom 45° from underneath the control panel.
I tried both methods, and aside from some concerns about the joystick working loose with repeated twists (there's that word again!) I didn't have any problems with either method. It certainly helps when playing Q-Bert to have a properly-oriented joystick!
The following chart lists the joystick test results, current as of this review. The chart will continue to fill in with data as the "Joystick Roundup" continues.
With a ridiculously easy installation and the unique ability to pivot while installed, the Ultimarc E-Stik has created its own niche in the joystick ecosphere. More of a "specialty joystick" than a general-purpose controller, it still delivers good gameplay and performance.
The E-Stik joystick is available from Ultimarc in blue, black, and red. Note that Happ Controls also sells the same joystick design as the "Happs Universal" joystick, although theirs is only available in black.