Logitech Cordless Xbox Controller Review
By Cliff O'Neill -- Staff Writer
Sports gamers are a lively bunch, which is why many of us dislike having to deal with restrictive controller cords. Although Microsoft's official Xbox controllers offer close to 10 feet of cord, we rowdy sports gamers demand more freedom to accommodate our wild gaming antics and celebrations. Enter Logitech, maker of the cordless Xbox controller, one of a few such controllers available for the system. Logitech's offering may not be the perfect cordless solution for all Xbox owners, but as with most of the company's products, it is a well-made piece of hardware with exceptional performance.
On paper, the specs of Logitech's cordless Xbox controller are impressive. Running on four AA batteries, the controller offers roughly 50 hours of use and has a range of 50 feet. Even more impressive is the inclusion of vibration feedback, something many cordless controllers, including Nintendo's WaveBird, simply lack. The controller enters "sleep mode" after five minutes of inactivity, and its LED blinks red and vibration motors cease operation when battery life is low. Bundled with the controller is a 2.4GHz receiver containing two expansion slots for attaching accessories, such as a memory unit.
Setting up the controller is simple, as all the necessary components are included in the package, complete with step-by-step instructions. After inserting the four included Duracell AA batteries into the rear of the controller and plugging the receiver into one of the Xbox's controller ports, you press the "connect" button on the receiver to establish communication between it and the controller. You do not have to adjust or configure anything on the controller, nor do you need to activate the vibration function, since it is always enabled. In other words, you are ready to go within minutes of unpacking the controller.
While bulkier than the Controller S and heavier than Xbox's original pack-in controller (due to the added weight of four AA batteries), the Logitech controller fuses the best elements of the two official Xbox controllers. An appealing shape, translucent green highlights, and smooth, black finish make it look quite slick, too. The button layout resembles the Controller S layout, with the black and white buttons placed just below the four main buttons. However, the Logitech's button configuration is actually a bit tighter, and unlike with the Controller S, the black and white buttons have a similar feel to the regular buttons.
The only major placement difference between the Logitech controller and the Controller S is the position of the Start and Back buttons. On the Logitech controller, these buttons are rather small and located near the top of the controller, introducing some minor awkwardness. Additionally, they are made of rubber instead of plastic, which creates a smoother feel.
There is no denying the Logitech cordless Xbox controller feels great in the hands, and nothing about it feels cheap, as is often the case with third-party controllers. Those with small hands, however, may experience some discomfort or need to adjust to the controller's broad shape. The buttons and triggers respond smoothly, and the analog sticks, though looser than those of other Xbox controllers, grip the thumbs well. Logitech modeled the digital pad with the same level of care, creating a D-pad that improves upon the one found on the Controller S. The design of the D-pad supports the thumb nicely, allows for mostly accurate movements, and lacks the clumsiness of lesser digital pads.
Whether you use it at 10 feet or 50, Logitech's cordless Xbox controller works magnificently, with no discernable lag or interference. Button response is instant in fast-paced titles like Top Spin and Tony Hawk's Underground, while the analog sticks perform exquisitely with games that rely heavily on precise movements, such as Outlaw Golf and Links 2004. Racing fans, fear not: Using the triggers to control acceleration and braking in Project Gotham Racing 2, Need for Speed Underground, and other racers is a comfortable and responsive experience, offering a full range of motion and pleasing amount of tension. Moreover, the vibration feedback is just right and not too overbearing.
As for flaws, there are a few. For one, the controller is ill-suited for Xbox Live play because the Xbox Communicator headset cannot be plugged into the controller itself. Another problem is it can be somewhat difficult to press in the analog sticks, particularly the right one. This is the result of the sticks being slightly looser and taller than the norm. Not being able to disable or adjust the controller's vibration to prolong battery life is disappointing, as well, especially since the cheaper Mad Catz Lynx wireless Xbox controller offers such a feature. Finally, with a relatively high price tag, this controller will surely not fit everyone's budget.
If you are looking to add more distance between you and your Xbox, the Logitech cordless Xbox controller is a great option, if a pricey one. None of the current cordless Xbox controllers has built-in expansion slots, so they all share the same basic "flaw" -- the Xbox Communicator cannot be inserted into the controller. Nevertheless, the Logitech controller undoubtedly offers the best quality of all the cordless Xbox controllers available.