Reviewed: November 15, 2003
In manís never-ending quest to rid the gaming world of SPS (sweaty palm syndrome) there have been several interesting innovations in gamepad technology ranging from leather wraps to textured rubber grips. Iím still waiting for the Nerf controller that will not only soak up the sweat but make it perfectly safe to throw my controller at the screen in thoseÖerr..rare moments of gaming rage.
Meanwhile, Nyko has taken an entirely new approach to solving SPS by introducing the patented Air Flo Hand Cooling technology into their line of PC and video game controllers and even an optical mouse. The Air Flo PC is their latest gamepad to use this new technology and itís such a simple concept Iím really surprised somebody hasnít come up with it before this.
Installation - 10
Installing the Air Flo PC is so ridiculously easy that I considered eliminated this section entirely. You basically plug the controller into any USB port and you are up and running. There are no driver discs, no setup, no nothing. This is plug-n-play by the very definition of the term. Once your system recognizes the controller it will appear as a standard 4 axis, 13-button gamepad and you can use the standard game control interface to customize the buttons.
Aesthetics - 9
The Air Flo PC is sleek and stylish with a silver case accented with black ventilated grips, rubber coated buttons and analog sticks. The entire design is geared around giving you the ultimate grip while keeping your hands sufficiently cooled. Most of the air vents are concealed in the textured rubber on the grips with a few vents perfectly located where your thumbs arc to the twin sticks.
The controller is nearly identical in size and shape to a standard PS2 Dual Shock controller; even the placement of the four shoulder buttons mirrors Sonyís controller. The centrally located fan control allows you to toggle the fan speed or turn it off entirely.
Durability - 10
The Air Flo PC is a sturdy little controller with excellent buttons and sticks that have just the right amount of smooth movement without feeling too loose. Even after several long hours of testing the buttons remained just as responsive and the sticks didnít loosen up. Since your hands arenít sweating you also donít build up that oily gunk in the cracks and crevices of the gamepad.
Performance - 8
As a gamepad, the Air Flo PC performs flawlessly and while the air-cooling is an innovative feature it can get a bit distracting at times, especially at the high speed where it becomes quite noisy. The lower speed seems to do just as good a job keeping your hands dry and only emits a barely audible hum. Unless you have a gland condition I suggest never turning the fan to high.
You are free to configure the gamepad however you see fit within the confines of the default gamepad software of your operating system. There are no specialty drivers to worry about which also means no way to save your favorite profiles or configurations for your favorite games.
The vibration in this gamepad was rather weak. Iím guessing with the cooling device there wasnít much room for vibration motors and since the power required for this gamepad is all coming through the USB there isnít a lot of juice left over to drive those motors. The variable vibration effects are more of an accent to the gameplay than any type of functional force feedback. Itís still better than nothing at all.
Value - 8
At only $29 the Air Flo PC is comparably priced with just about every other PC gamepad on the market. Whether the Air Flo PC is right for you is basically going to revolve around the issue of how sweaty do your hands get when you play games since this is the main selling point of this particular gamepad.
Arguably, there are other controllers out there that offer more features and better vibration effects than the Air Flo. Some come with fancy software that let you create elaborate profiles, program macros, and do all sorts of advanced gaming features. In the end, the Air Flo PC does everything it promises but nothing more.
Overall Ė 8.5
The Air Flo PC is a stylish controller that offers the unique technology to keep your hands cool and dry for extended periods of gaming. It delivers all of the features and configurability that youíd expect from a contemporary gamepad, and all at an affordable price from a trusted source of peripheral hardware, Nyko. While youíll probably buy it for the Air Flo technology, youíll keep using it because it works and it works well.