Reviewed: October 31, 2003
Type: Wireless Gamepad
The list of PC games that require a gamepad these days is dwindling. PC games in general are becoming fewer in number, but that hasn't stopped Logitech from continuing to tweak their existing line of PC gamepads. Much like their latest PS2 and Xbox wireless controllers, the Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2 gets a significant refit for 2004, both externally and internally. If you liked their last Rumblepad controller you ain't seen nothing yet...
Even though I get to test hardware from nearly a dozen manufacturers I almost always come back to Logitech gear for consoles and Saitek gear for the PC. I’ve been a devout Saitek PC gamepad user ever since I first laid hands on their P2500 Rumble Force and with this year’s P3000 Wireless edition I’ve had no complaints with any of my PC games that actually require a pad.
Logitech is trying desperately to convert me and they keep getting closer with each attempt. They’ve successfully addressed every issue (and I mean EVERY issue – their designers must have read my review) I had with the previous model and added several enhancements to make this one of the best designed and most functional PC gamepad available.
Installation - 10
Unbelievably Simple Baby (USB). Plug in the remote receiver into any available USB port, insert batteries into controller, install drivers and play games. Yes, it’s really that easy. Everything is by the book, step-by-step.
Aesthetics - 9
This new 2.4 GHz gamepad is totally redesigned, abandoning the stealth-wing bomber design of the previous model and bringing the design close to their console line of products as well as the all-too familiar DualShock gamepad for the PS2. Needless to say, if you’ve ever played a game on a PS2 this controller will feel right at home in your hand.
The front of the gamepad features four large shoulder buttons and to my total delight the perfectly placed face buttons all fall under the natural position of your thumb. They are raised from the surface to provide a nice range of travel and they all now feature numeric labels rather than the cryptic letter scheme from last year.
The most noteworthy of changes is the reduction of face buttons, previously six, and now four, with the other two buttons going to the top-center of the controller. You still have all ten buttons; they are just moved around a bit. While this design will certainly appeal to the console crowd, I still prefer the six-button cluster on my PC gamepads.
The quirky concave D-pad design of the previous model has been updated with a traditional circular pad with a raised cross along the top. The D-pad is very precise and feels great. The tops of the analog sticks are still slightly dented but not nearly as bad as last year, and they now feature textured rubber tops for no-slip control.
Durability - 10
The Cordless Rumblepad 2 is very solid and slightly heavier than its corded counterpart thanks to the additional weight of two AA batteries. Actually, I think the added weight gives the gamepad a bit more substance and keeps the vibration effects from getting out of hand.
I’m sure the added weight could prove a problem if you accidentally drop (or throw) your controller but after more than 10 hours of rigorous…err…testing…the controller was performing just like it did out of the package. The sticks all remained firm with no additional slack or play in their movement.
Performance - 10
I put the Logitech controller through multiple tests with games like The Suffering and Uru: Ages Beyond Myst then moved on to TOCA Race Driver 2. Mutant Storm is still one of my favorite games that demands a quality gamepad and the Rumblepad 2 performed flawlessly with precise analog control and instant button response with not the slightest hint of lag. The feedback effects delivered a huge range from subtle vibrations to violent shaking that surprised me on a few occasions.
The 2.4 GHz technology is definitely more reliable than 900 MHz and unless you have a 2.4 GHz phone near your computer you shouldn’t have any problem with random interference. With a 30-foot range and a signal that goes through walls, you will have the ultimate in wireless gameplay. While this is a desirable feature in console gaming I seriously doubt PC gamers actually sit very far from their PC.
Expect about 100 hours of gameplay from the two AA batteries – for those keeping score that’s half the batteries and twice the lifespan of last year’s model. And kudos to Logitech for including name brand “Duracell” batteries with the controller. I know it’s easy to skimp on the little things like this to keep the overhead down, but I guaranteed I won’t be the only one to appreciate the coppertops in the package.
The Rumblepad2 features proprietary power management software to power-down the pad after a certain amount of non-use, and this new model features a toggle switch for the vibration effects (another one of my issues addressed), so you can get the most from your batteries. But rest assured, that when you want it, the dual vibration motors will deliver some of the best feedback effects you can experience with a wireless controller.
Value - 10
At $39.99 the Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2 is priced right in line with other wireless controllers in the same league. Whether you can justify the price is going to be your decision. Does the Logitech controller out-perform any of the other less expensive gamepads? You bet! Is it the best wireless controller you can buy for the PC with the most reliable input signal? Absolutely.
Overall – 9.8
PC gamers can now break free from their tethered gamepads and live free. The Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2 is easily one of the best wireless PC pads we’ve tested to date. I’d rank it right up there with the Saitek P3000; it’s only real competition. In fact, the only thing keeping this controller from a perfect score is my personal preference for a six-button thumb configuration.
If you own or have used any of Logitech’s wireless controllers for the Xbox or PS2 you will already know what to expect with the Rumblepad 2. Quality, performance, value, and wireless freedom await. If your PC games require a console-style gamepad, this is the one you want.