Summary: With its $300 price tag, the Playseat Evolution is one of the least expensive racing seats on the market. But is the price too good to be true? Alan recently bought one and shares his thoughts in this article!
The missing element has always been the mount for that steering wheel. With PC racing games, it was possible to use a desk, but with consoles, people have turned to end tables, fold up tables, and even lap attachments. Unfortunately, none of these options are able to deliver a proper seating position.
Enterprising individuals have gone to the junkyard to find old car seats to build their own racing cockpit. Wealthy individuals have gone with the official Sparco GT Cockpit, running $580 for a standard racing bucket to $750 for one with a comfortable chair. For a while, Bob Earlís $300 Virtual Racing Chassis remained the only option for enthusiasts wanting a turn-around solution. Extremely functional and overengineered to Huffaker Engineeringís specifications, the VRC was superb. Unfortunately, it was function over form, and due to its popularity, often out of stock.
Enter the $299 PlaySeat Evolution.
Originally developed in the Netherlands, Playseats has one critical advantage to the Bob Earl Virtual Racing Chassis: itís available at Amazon.com and Walmart.com. This easy availability makes it easy to buy (and try) the seat, and all of us have found ourselves with Amazon or Walmart gift certificates at one point or another. The other important feature of the Playseat Evolution is that it looks a lot cooler.
The Playseat comes unassembled. While the instructions are reasonably clear, itís not IKEA-quality. The photos are too small to be practical and you can expect to spend about 30 minutes putting the Playseat together. Itís not hard Ė it just takes time. Parts are individually wrapped, and there are two different sizes of allen wrenchs that need to be used. That said, once you have the unit assembled, you can adjust the position of the pedals and the steering wheel with relative ease and the mount is sturdy. The default configuration does not come with a G25 shifter bracket, however this will be available shortly. In contrast to the original Playseat (available at Amazon for $220), the Playseat Evolution offers a sturdier design. Unfortunately, the seats are leatherette as opposed to the original Alcantara microfiber seat.
Seating position is very natural, mirroring a low position in a sporty-car. The seat was very comfortable even though it is not adjustable (it does fold down for storage). Due to the design of the Playseat, stability is quite good although it is not up to the level of something such as Bob Earlís VRC, with its F1-like position and fully-welded construction, which is considerably stiffer.
The Playseat features several seat variations: black, white, A1GP, Indy 500, and a Tony Stewart licensed design. What makes the Playseat exceptional is that it has a great balance of features Ė itís sturdy and reliable enough to be practical, yet has the look of the $750 reference quality Sparco set-up. From a puristís standpoint, Bob Earlís VRC likely offers a seating position closest to professional racers, and if you were using Gran Turismo to train in the off-season, the VRC is clearly a good option. For the rest of us, the PlaySeat makes that appropriate compromise, giving us a better looking seat with a comfy headrest, the stability required to maximize the force feedback of a wheel such as the Driving Force Pro and G25, and a natural seating position mirroring a sports car.