While a lot of us who do gaming journalism have been having fun with the company name, the truth is Thrustmaster have been putting out some pretty good products when it comes to extra material for your racing games. We're talking racing wheels, stick shifts, pedals, even headsets. The latest product to drop from the company is the Bluetooth LED Display designed for the PS4. We snagged on in the mail, hooked up all our gear and took it for a virtual spin.
The shorthand version of what this unit does is give you a racing display like you might find in some cars to give you an accurate list of items that you would normally monitor in the game, only this way it's presented to you on a dashboard-like setup. You charge the display using the USB cord that comes with your wireless PS4 controller and have it connect to your console the same way you would your regular controller. It comes with 21 LED lights on the front, three digit displays, three adjustment dials, and a power button. This kind of display is meant to be put on top of the dash piece that comes with whatever steering wheel you've purchased as an extended controller, but you can also set it in front of your TV or on the ground or a nearby table if you're running off a controller. The connection works up to 30 feet away before it starts to lose signal quality, and you got roughly a 4-hour charge from the internal battery.
The primary function of the unit is to tell you three specific things: Your speed, the gear you're driving in, and the time. As you accelerate, the lights on the top bar will react accordingly to how much pressure you're putting on the pedal or gas button, while the six marshaling LED lights on the bottom to warn you of other issues. Depending on the game that you have, the dials can be adjusted to tell you other things, like flashing you what lap you're on after you cross the start, or giving you the time you currently have in the race. You can also adjust those displays to keep it in a fixed position in case you don't care to look at one piece of info and want something else. The bottom dial simply adjusts how bright the display is, but it never turns the display so low you can't see it. There's no delay time between the display and the game, it's as instantaneous as your controller's reaction to doing something on screen.
Now if you're a casual racing fan and you don't have a bunch of special hookups for those games, you're probably asking us right now "Why do I need those on a different device? That's already on the screen." And you're absolutely right, however, you have to understand the mentality going into it. A lot of people who are racing game enthusiasts don't like seeing the screen cluttered with a bunch of information. There's a core group of people who go into the settings, turn off all the monitoring graphics, and race with a clear screen in first-person or third-person mode as if they were really driving out on the track. And as fun as that is, sometimes you forget what lap you're on or need to know what place you're in. This is for that kind of gamer or people who want to experience a racing title like that. You look down, get your info, look back up and enjoy. We fully acknowledge this piece of equipment is not for everyone, but we can also attest tot he fact that there are plenty of people who want and need it.
This was a pretty awesome piece of equipment to play with and it was fun hooking it up and giving a few different games a test. That being said, we know this is for a certain crowd, and we're pretty confident that the people who would buy this will enjoy it. The biggest hurdle for those consumers is going to be the price, as the Bluetooth LED Display is currently going for £140 (nearly $200), making it an accessory more suited for the hardcore players. We had fun with it and it became pretty useful when we played without displays, and we can't wait to use it on more racing titles that come our way for the PS4, so the judgment call on your end comes down to whether it's worth that much to you.