Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Controller
- Attractive, sturdy, intelligent design, Excellent range, Good battery life,
- Battery pack can make the controller a little uncomfortable.
The Xbox 360 Wireless controller is attractive and performs impeccably; it is a little pricey though, especially when you consider that extra money has to be forked out for the recharge kit.
Price$ 79.95 (AUD)
The much anticipated Xbox 360 is almost here and on March 2 Australians will be cracking open their Xbox 360 packages. If they have chosen to purchase the premium package, gamers will experience the new Xbox 360 wireless controller.
The original Xbox had "The Duke", a giant controller design for giant American hands, but Microsoft quickly learnt that people had grown too used to the Playstation controllers and had issues with the size of their new controller. In Japan, they weren't as bold and the Japanese controller was more like its Playstation counterpart. As import numbers of Japanese controllers began to increase, Microsoft got to the point and released the S-Type controller, a clone of the Japanese controller for the western markets.
With Xbox 360, Microsoft have further expanded upon the S-Type controller but have moved even closer to the Playstation design while also keeping true to everything that made the S-Type popular. Firstly, the black and white buttons have been removed and two shoulder buttons have taken their place. Similar to the Playstation controller, the Xbox 360 controller now has 4 buttons on the front, two control sticks, four main buttons and two system menu buttons. However, the 360 controller is dominated by a raised Xbox360 logo ball surrounded by the "ring of light". This button turns on/off the console and also brings up the Xbox360 interface blades at any time.
There is also a small white button on the front of the device which is used to sync the controller to the console. There is a similar button on the console itself which, when pressed, sends the console into controller seek mode, resulting in the "ring of light" on the face spinning around its four quadrants. The button on the controller is then pressed and the "ring of light" on the controller also spins. When the two rings both stop on one of the quadrants, the controller is synced and ready to use. We tested this feature and found that it worked very well and of the ten times we synced the controller it never took more then 5 seconds. Up to four controllers can be synced to the console, one for each quadrant.
The range of the controller is also very impressive. The Xbox 360 Wireless Controller connects via a 2.4GHz connection with a technology Microsoft calls "frequency hopping spread spectrum" which translates to a fancy term for anti-interference. It is meant to suppress any outside frequencies that may cause havoc while using the controller. In a house with more electrical devices than any one house should have, we tested the controller and found no interference at all. The controller connected fine, worked flawlessly and the only signal lag we thought we experienced turned out to be a problem with the menus in the game "Kameo: Elements of Power" rather than the controller, since we experienced the same problems with the wired controller as well.
Microsoft claims that the Xbox 360 can work up to 30 feet away from the console. We tested it up to about 20 feet and it was working perfectly but the further we got away from the console, the more we ended up in the backyard and the less we could see the TV, so whether the controller will work at 30 feet is uncertain. It shouldn't really matter anyhow; the need for a controller that works at 30 feet is rather limited.
Naturally, being wireless, the controller needs to be powered and it does so via 2 AA sized batteries, inserted into a battery pack and clipped into the bottom of the controller. Microsoft claims that one set of batteries will allow up to 40 hours of game play. We didn't play for 40 hours straight to test it; unfortunately our jobs aren't quite that cool, but over a weekend of solid game play logging in at over 10 hours the controller was still going strong. However, there is also a rechargeable battery pack available at an extra cost which allows you to charge the pack with a supplied cable while still playing.
The controller also features the same old rumble feature that has been around for ages, except this new controller allows the user to control the intensity of the rumbles. This is a great new addition to the world of Xbox with a sleek and sexy new design and flawless performance. The only real complaint we have with this controller is that the battery pack tends to prevent the user from tucking his fingers under the controller, forcing them to place the index fingers in the space between the handles and the battery, which isn't terribly comfortable. Whether this takes some getting used to or it's a serious design flaw will be sorted out after prolonged use, but on the whole this is a rather good and stylish controller worthy of adoration.
Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.
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