Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Got a xbox360... controller

xbox360 controller

Having been thinking about getting a game pad for my computer, I decided to pick up the xbox360 controller for windows on impulse. Although somewhat on the expensive side of controller's, I figure if I ever do get a xbox360, I'd wouldn't have to spend money on a second controller.

The 360 controller works on both the console and Windows. It seems to be just a USB controller. At the store, there are those labeled for the 360 and Windows. The difference is that the windows version has a CD with the drivers while the 360 ones don't. The price should be the same for each but some places sells the windows version at a higher price. If so, get the 360 version and download the driver from Microsoft for free.

What I look for in a controller first is the feel. I want something that feels solid in my hand and the 360 controller meets that criteria very well. It feels like it's designed for frequent use (a console controller afterall) and not a secondary gaming device like many gamepads for the PC. Fortunately, MS seemed to learned from their original mistake and the size of the controller is closer to the "S" type controller of the original xbox. The button layout is similiar and feels responsive.

Setting up the controller meant plugging it in. It is very basic as is the software. In fact, I hesitate to say that it comes with software at all. It comes with the software driver for Windows (MS should say so on their website). There is no ability to macro anything, or do anything other then calibrate it. For the price, I'd expect something beyond just a driver.

The triggers are responsive, but I was baffled that they aren't considered "buttons" but rather Z-axis movement controls. I'm not sure if this is the same with all gamepads or what but I'd like to use them as buttons in my games. They are comfortable to use but in FFXI, they aren't used for anything. Without anyway to reprogram the controller, they are essentially useless. The left-and-right shoulder buttons also requires the hands to move a little in order to press them. None of the other button required me to adjust my hold in anyway. There is also a XBOX logo button in the middle of the game pad that does... absolutely nothing. On the xbox it is functional, on the PC not even the software driver recognizes it.

The pad also has a connector for the xbox headset. I don't know if this works on the PC as I have no headset to test with.

The xbox360 controller for Windows is a very basic 10-button (plus 2 triggers) USB game pad. It is solid in construction and comfortable. The lack of software really hurts it in comparison to other cheaper offerings. For those who might get an xbox360 and want a wired version of the controller and have a PC, this might be worth it.

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