Posted Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:30 PM
Opinions always differ on this, but it comes down to whether you like the feel of the cx-52 and just have problems with its reliability, or if you just feel it's a bad design (due to the side mounted firebuttons and non-self-centering stick) and would prefer something else altogether.
Of course, if you're new to the system, and stuck with a non-functioning cx-52, it may be hard to know to know which way you come down on this (unless you've already used Colecovision and/or Intellivision sticks and know you hate side-mounted fire buttons on principle.)
Here's my suggestion to new 5200 owners... start with the "aluminum foil dot fix" It's cheap and fairly easy to do. Plenty of threads on this forum go into detail on how to do it. Once done, play some games and decide how you feel about these sticks. If you like them, consider getting them rebuilt by Best... it should be a more permanent fix than the foil dots, and some users have reported a better "feel" to the firebuttons.
But if you just don't like the cx-52's (and even a number of us 5200 fans do not), consider one of the alternatives. I personally prefer the Wico stick as the best all-around alternative... it works with every game, the buttons are NOT side mounted, and it self-centers. There is a nice keypad available to complement it, but it's expensive, and a foil-dot fixed standard controller (along with Wico's Y-cable) is a perfectly acceptable substitute. Alternatively, there is the Competition Pro stick, which works great for all the games that don't need analog control, and the Masterplay interface which lets you use Atari 2600 joysticks,... once again, just for the games that don't need analog. The Masterplay is really rare and expensive, and recently AtariAge user low_budget has been selling his own alternative which is reported to work well.
There's no one solution that will make every 5200 user happy. But I do think with some effort, every user can find a solution that works for them. I, for one, consider the system to be well worth it. :-)