Reviewed: June 16, 2003
Type: Wireless Gamepad
With more and more gamers becoming multi-system households it can become all too easy to quickly amass 4, 8, 12 or more controllers, and having that many lying around your living room is just begging for a tangled knot of cables that only a scout master can unravel.
Wireless controllers are nothing new. My first pair was for my Sega Genesis back in the early 90’s. Those were infrared controllers (IR) and required a very precise line-of-sight (LOS). In the past decade I have experimented with a variety of wireless controllers ranging from more IR devices up through the 900Mhz series of controllers. While these wireless gamepads are admittedly quite convenient, there is usually some sacrifice that has to be endured to enjoy this luxury.
The Logitech 2.4 GHz Cordless Controller for the Xbox is not only my first wireless controller for the Xbox but is also my first experience with the new 2.4 GHz technology – the same technology used in top-of-the-line cordless phones. If this is any indication of where wireless technology is going it won’t be long before tangled cords are a thing of the past.
Aesthetics - 9
The first thing you notice when removing the gamepad from the package is the “unique” styling of this device. I have never liked the stock Xbox controllers and even their new S-Controller is only a marginal improvement. I’ve been a hardcore Mad Catz fan since I got hold of their Control Pad Pro over a year ago and have used nothing since except for those periods of time when I’m reviewing another controller. The Logitech controller is the first gamepad to dethrone Mad Catz as my reigning favorite, and not just because it’s wireless, although that does factor in.
The molded shape of the Logitech controller is very comfortable but it lacks the rubber-coated grips or any texture, so sweaty palm syndrome is inevitable if you play for any length of time. The tops of the twin sticks are textured rubber and quite “sticky” allowing for precise control. The sticks and the D-pad are perfectly positioned and the face buttons conform to the S-Controller format making it much easier to reach those elusive black and white buttons.
The Start and Back buttons are located at the top-center of the controller, much more accessible than other S-Controllers or even the stock gamepad. The remote sensor that plugs into the Xbox is on a short cable so you can rest the receiver on top of your Xbox. The pod-like device is also home to the twin cartridge slots if you are using memory cards. This allows for a much slimmer gamepad design.
Durability - 9
The Logitech controller is very solid and a few ounces heavier than a stock controller thanks to the additional weight of four AA batteries. Actually, I think the added weight gives the gamepad a bit more substance. It also makes the rumble effect more subdued than the often violent shaking on some of the lighter gamepads.
I’m sure the added weight could prove a problem if you accidentally drop (or throw) your controller but after more than 30 hours of vigorous use with games like Speed Kings, Midnight Club, Hulk, and Enter the Matrix 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 ranging from the calm and subdued Finding Nemo to the button mashing, stick jerking Speed Kings there was never a moment where I detected even the faintest dropout of signal or hesitation of my character, car, or whatever on-screen icon I was controlling from performing the action I was inputting with the pad. The 2.4 GHz technology is definitely more reliable than 900 MHz and unless you have a 2.4 GHz phone near your game room you shouldn’t have any problem with random interference.
The Logitech controller uses channel switching so you can operate multiple controllers (up to 8) in the same room with no signal crossovers or interference. With a 50-foot range and a signal that goes through walls (yes, I actually started a game from three rooms away), you will have the ultimate in wireless gameplay.
Expect about 50 hours of gameplay from four batteries 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.
While the Logitech controller does feature proprietary power management software to power-down the pad after a certain amount of non-use, I was surprised to find no toggle switch for the vibration. Often, wireless controllers have this option to save battery power that goes much quicker when powering the vibration motors.
Value - 7
At $69.95 this is one of the most expensive gamepads you can get for your Xbox. Whether you can justify the steep price is going to be your decision. Does the Logitech controller out-perform any of the other less expensive gamepads? Probably not. Is it the best wireless controller you can buy for the Xbox with the most reliable input signal? Absolutely.
Overall – 9.5
I’m a big fan of eliminating wires from my gaming life and until now I never thought my dream would be realized. With the advent of 2.4 GHz technology and a perfectly designed gamepad like the Logitech Cordless Controller Xbox owners can now break free from their tethered gamepads and live free. Of course replacing four controllers is going to cost you nearly the price of another Xbox, but you can always just buy one for yourself and make your friends all buy their own. Once they see yours they’ll be headed for the store.