A Tale of 3 (wireless) Controllers

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by EdR, Dec 1, 2002.

  1. EdR

    EdR Second Unit

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    I finally got fed up with the endless tangled cable mess eminating from where my consoles sit (they are all near each other on a shelf), so in a fit of retail therapy, I bought a wireless controller for each system.
    For the Gamecube, the choice was easy, the Wavebird is made by Nintendo so the build quality isn't an issue, nor is the feel of the sticks/buttons. It's slightly larger than the standard controller, and it weighs just a tiny bit more. But in your hands, it feels identical to the standard controllers, and that's a good thing because I think the Gamecube controllers are really nice. The wavebird take 2 AA batteries, but disappointingly, the manual for it says that you should not use NiMH batteries which thwarts my plan to use rechargables in it.
    Functionally, the Wavebird works great - esentially identical to the standard controller, except it lacks rumble, which I assume was left out to conserve batteries. One of the few annoyances about the Wavebird is that it has a power button, which means that if you forget to turn it off it will continue to drain the batteries...other wireless controllers (such as the ones I'm about to talk about) shut themselves off after a few minutes of non-use.
    For the Xbox, I only found one wireless controller at the EB where I was shopping. It's the Lynx from Madcatz.
    [​IMG]
    As you can see the button layout is the same as the large Xbox controller, but the size is closer to the 'S' - which is really nice because I like the layout of the larger controller more...but I use the 'S' because of it's size. The reciever end that plugs into the Xbox has spaces for memory cards, but I don't have any to test it with.
    The buttons and sticks on the Lynx feel very similar to the standard Xbox controllers. The stick is thankfully missing the 4 little raised tick marks that are on the sticks of the MS controllers...those things irritate my thumbs during certain games. The downside of the sticks is that they have a hard plastic finish, it's roughened up, but the grip isn't quite as assured as I'd prefer...although I am getting used to them quickly.
    I was able to get into TigerWoods '03 and after a few tries, pick right up where I left off. Which reminds me, the white abd black buttons on this are really sweet. They are raised more, unlike the MS version where they are more recessed and a bit harder to get at. For games like TW03 where the white and black buttons are important, this is a better controller than the MS ones, IMO.
    The triggers on the Lynx have more tension than the MS controllers, which is good for racing games because it's easier to ease the accelerator/brake with a bit more precision. I thought at first that my fingers might get tired from the firmer triggers, but after a solid hour and a half in PGR, I had no problems.
    This controller takes 3 AA batteries, and there are no warnings about rechargables. It auomatically sleeps after 3 minutes of non-use, and it also has a low battery light, and a switch for rumble/vibration with three settings: off, 1 and 2 (2 being the strongest) although they make it clear that the it uses more battery power when on.
    The third controller is for the PS2 and is also a MadCatz (the DualForce 2), but it has one significant difference, it has a recharge base.
    [​IMG]
    Unfortunately the suppplied battery pack is NiCad, which suffers the infamous 'memory' problem. To avoid problems with charging, you need to deplete it fully before placing it back in it's base. It is supposed to run ~8 hours before needing recharging.
    Initially I was very happy to see a wireless controller that recharges, I have a wireless rechargable mouse for my computer and it rocks. But I neglected to notice that it's NiCad before I bought it, so I'm not really sure if it's a good thing. I am going to buy some NMiH rechargables for the Lynx anyway, so 3 more would probably be better than these NiCads.
    Oddly, the literature for this product says nothing about how long it takes to charge, although it does have a light that flashes while charging, and stays on when finished. This one also goes to sleep, but I was unable to find any mention of that in the booklet. One big oversight is the lack of a battery low light.
    This controller feels just about identical to the Dual Shock PS2 controller, withthe sole exception of the grips, which are contoured and made or hard rubber...makes for a comfy grip. I was able to pick up and play games with essentially no adjustments. If anything, the 'Start' and 'Select' buttons are placed in a better position (over toward the right) than on the Sony. This controller also has a vibration function, but there's not way to disable it on the controller itself.
    This is the only one of the three controllers to offer macro pogramming, but I haven't used it (yet) so I can't comment.
    Overall the Lynx and the Wavebird stand out. The Dual Force isn't bad, but it has more shortcomings, especially with the battery technology. I'm extremely happy overall with the wireless-ness, it's really very nice to not have cords dangling all over and to have to worry about people walking in front of you, etc.
    I think these would make GREAT gifts for a gamer, btw.
    Ed
     
  2. Dave F

    Dave F Cinematographer

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    Thanks for the reviews, Ed. There are a lot of us here that are looking for good wireless controllers.

    -Dave
     
  3. Joel Mack

    Joel Mack Cinematographer

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    It's unfortunate that the Xbox controller is useless if you want to use Xbox Live...

    I haven't heard if the new Logitech controller has the memory card ports on the controller or reciver, yet...
     
  4. Dennis Reno

    Dennis Reno Supporting Actor

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    Joel - why can't you use a wireless controller with Xbox Live? I've been waiting to purchase an Xbox for two reasons: 1) Wireless controllers and 2) Xbox Live.
     
  5. Adam Tyner

    Adam Tyner Screenwriter

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    Dennis: I would disagree that XBox Live is 'useless' with the controller pictured above, but it definitely takes some of the fun out of it. The headset for XBox Live plugs into the memory card/expansion slots, located on the receiver on that controller. Since the receiver would be located with the system, not the controller, wearing the headset while using the wireless controller would be awfully tough.
     
  6. Joel Mack

    Joel Mack Cinematographer

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    Okay, maybe "useless" isn't the word I should have used, but since the voice communication, at least to me, is critical, it certainly would be pointless to try and use this controller with it...
     
  7. EdR

    EdR Second Unit

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    Hmmm, I had no idea about how Xbox live worked. That is inconvenient.

    I have a feeling, though, that if the Live headset and mic went through a wireless controller, it might impact battery life...not sure how much.
     
  8. Marc_E

    Marc_E Supporting Actor

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    Is that new 2.4GHz controller out yet?
    Marc
     
  9. GlenHaag

    GlenHaag Supporting Actor

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  10. Dave Falasco

    Dave Falasco Screenwriter

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    Penny Arcade has a link to a website for a wireless controller system called SPIKE, which looks like one controller that purportedly can be adapted for use in all of the consoles. Pretty sweet if it's true.
    Here's a quote:
     
  11. GlenHaag

    GlenHaag Supporting Actor

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    Yeah, if that works... it could be a killer. It would be worth paying $50-$75 dollars for if it can play them all.

    It just has to be a comfortable controller.

    Glen
     
  12. EdR

    EdR Second Unit

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  13. Travis Kolesar

    Travis Kolesar Second Unit

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    Hmmm, defiantely didn't read the manual. Been using monster power 1800 mAh rechargeables with it from day one. Then again, I tore mine apart and spray painted it metallic purple, so I'm sure the warranty was voided after that. [​IMG]
    I'm hoping the logitech controller for xbox is halfway decent. It'd be nice if it were usable with live. With rechargables, as long as it lasted for a full game session I wouldn't care. Also, I thought it was interesting in the Xbox live beta follow up survey that there was a question regarding interest for an official Microsoft wireless controller. I hope they do make one, since you know they would figure out a way to use the live headset with it.
     
  14. GlenHaag

    GlenHaag Supporting Actor

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    I've been using rechargeable batteries in my Wavebird since the originals died. Never had a single hiccup.

    Glen
     
  15. Craig Robertson

    Craig Robertson Supporting Actor

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    how rugged are these things? are my kids gonna destroy them instantly, or will it take a while?[​IMG]
     
  16. Travis Kolesar

    Travis Kolesar Second Unit

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    Well, on the wavebird, the most vulnerable spot are the directional sticks which are attached directly to the circuit board, everything else uses soft contacts. It's one sturdy controller, I'd reckon that you'd have to destroy the outer case before you did any serious damage to the guts of it. I know of one HTF member who put and indentation in his wall by chucking a wavebird at it, said controller still works fine. On the plus side, with no cables, there are no worries about having your console damaged by being pulled out of your rack.

    Not sure about the quality of the other wireless controllers out there.
     
  17. EdR

    EdR Second Unit

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    Both of the MadCatz controllers I talked about feel very solid, at least as solid as the originals that they replace. One thing I'd worry about with kids is losing/misplacing them, since the lack of wire means they can be carried far and wide...
     
  18. Craig Robertson

    Craig Robertson Supporting Actor

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    i don't mind if the kids get frustrated not being able to play 'cause they lost the controller, beats my frustration over a busted controller.[​IMG] they have pulled the wires out of i don't know how many 64 controllers.
    i bought them a GC on black friday, i'll start looking for the wavebirds.
    Thanks!
     
  19. EdR

    EdR Second Unit

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    Followup:
    Well, the MadCatz DualForce 2 gave up the ghost. After an initial charge of 20 hours, about 4-5 hours of play until it was drained, and a recharge, it just stopped working. The PS2 acted as if there was no controller plugged in. I tried everything, reseating (and resetting) the receiver, pressing every button on the controller (it had power, because it would vibrate when it woke up, like it's supposed to)...it indicated it was fully charged.
    So I returned it, and got a Logitech 2.4Ghz one instead (non rechargable).
    After a few hours, I must say it's impressive. I avoided this controller because it looks so damn huge:
    [​IMG]
    But the truth is, its most comfortable to hold it so the ends stick out a bit beyond your hands. Whe I saw it, i envisioned that you'd hold it by the ends, which means your hands would be far apart, but once I held it it just fell into place. It's very comfortable despite being quite heavy.
    The sticks are on the loose side (as in easy to move), which I initially thought might be a problem, but after testing it in a few games (Need For Speed:HP2, V-rally 3 and ATV2) I feel the opposite. these sticks are very easy to move precisely...you can givem them very slight nudges to correct your 'aim' - IMO much more easily that you can with the PS2 standard controller.
    The buttons also feel good. They have a bit more throw than the standard controller, and a but of give when they are fully depressed.
    I'm on the fence about the D-pad. It seems a bit too easy to miss a direct up/left/right/down and instead hit diagonal. The indentations aren't enough for my thumb to feel exactly where it is. I haven't played a game yet that requires a lot of d-pad action, so I'll wait to make a final judgement.
    Overall though, this controller plays really great. I beat a very difficult time in V-Rally after only 3 tries (something I had been trying to match with the SP2 controller for something like 10 tries or more)...it's a game that demands a lot of accuracy with the controller.
    One of the few downsides is that it takes 4 batteries, which is a lot. the MadCatz Lynx for Xbox takes 3, the Wavebird takes 2. So I'd say that having set of rechargables is a must for this one.
     
  20. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    I have the 2.4 ghz cordless rumblepad for PC that is 90% like the PS2 version. I am happy with the analog sticks on it, I can actually throw dragon punches in Street Fighter on it!!! I didn't like the D-pad, though, it rates in at only tolerable.
     

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