Satechi Unveils Wireless Gamepad for Mobile Devices

Satechi Unveils Wireless Gamepad for Mobile Devices

Oct 14, 2015

Calling all mobile gamers!

We are fans of Satechi and its impressive line of mobile devices; well, add a real pertinent one to the list: the Satechi Wireless Gamepad, a bluetooth-enabled piece which allows folks to ditch virtual onscreen buttons when playing games on Android devices.

And yes, it works with iOS and Windows devices as well.

The unit boasts 14 buttons, directional pad and the ubiquitous dual joysticks. It also incorporates a spring holder that is perfect for holding devices.

The Wireless Gamepad has three available modes, depending on the platform gamers are using:

iCade Mode for iOS is compatible with iCade classic games including PAC-MAN, Asteroids, Centipede, and Battlezone. It is also compatible with a plethora of modern games. Simply search “iCade” in the app store for a list of compatible games for iOS.

Android/Mouse Mode is compatible with a wide range of free apps from the Google Play Store including Angry Birds, Grand Theft Auto 3, MC4, Wild blood, Dungeon Hunter, Zombie, FC simulator, GBA emulator arcade emulator, SFC simulator, N64 emulator, Shadowgun, Sonic CD, Cordy, soulcraft, Zenonia4, 9 Innings 2013, Riptide GP, and more.

Joystick Mode for Windows devices is compatible with gaming services such as Steam (remapping of keys may be required) for endless game play of Dota, Metal Gear Solid V, The Phantom Pain, Grand Theft Auto V, Fallout 4, Mad Max, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, NBA 2K16, Left 4 Dead 2, Far Cry 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Borderlands 2, and more.

The Satechi Wireless Gamepad is available for $39.99 on Amazon and the Satechi website.

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MOGA Hero Power and MOGA Pro Power Hardware Review

MOGA Hero Power and MOGA Pro Power Hardware Review

Nov 28, 2013

MOGA’s first generation of controllers are ones that I continue to swear by for their comfort and versatiliity. The Pocket’s lack of HID support and buttons hurts it, but it’s still a great portable controller, and there’s plenty of MOGA API games to justify it. But the MOGA Pro is perhaps the strongest of the lot – with its HID support and excellent ergonomics, it’s the gold standard of Android controllers.

Well now MOGA is back for round 2 with a new generation of controllers, both in pocket and full-size versions, but with a new feature: the ability to charge a phone attached to them. Unfortunately, the new designs with these new features just introduce new problems. The Pro only takes a minor ding, but the Hero proves to be greatly flawed because of it.

MOGA Hero Power

MOGA Hero Power

First off, the MOGA Pro Power only makes slight changes to the formula: its design has been seemingly modified to fit better with the look of the Hero, and perhaps to accomodate the battery inside. Both controller scome with a standard micro-USB cable for charging in the contorller’s female micro-USB port, and a short micro-USB cable for charging from the female full-size USB port on both controllers, used to charge a phone connected to the device.

The MOGA Hero Power is a total overhaul of the MOGA Pocket. Where the Pocket lacked analog triggers, clickable joysticks, and a d-pad, the Hero contains all of these, while still maintaining a small size, and now supporting both MOGA API and standard HID gamepad modes. The joysticks are no longer the flat discs of the Pocket, they’re convex standard analog joysticks, just very small.

MOGA Pro Power

MOGA Pro Power

The portability factor is mixed: the controller certainly would fit in a pocket, but I’d be nervous about those joysticks breaking off just by their nature. It’s the same reason I don’t really pocket my PS Vita. Perhaps they would stick on there, but it makes me nervous. If it came with a little bag like the Pocket did, I’d feel better. Otherwise, if you’re throwing it in a bag, then it’s probably best to just go up to the Pro Power, eh?

The other reason to just go with the Pro Power? The triggers on the Hero are terrible. They are incredibly stiff, and absurdly uncomfortable to use; I just couldn’t find a comfortable position to place my index fingers on the triggers. A first-person shooter like Neon Shadow is okay with the triggers; a racing game like Asphalt 8 is practically unbearable.

MOGA Hero Power: the triggers are stiff and very, very comfortable.

MOGA Hero Power: the triggers are stiff and very, very comfortable.

In comparison, the MOGA Pro Power, with more traditional full-size triggers.

In comparison, the MOGA Pro Power, with more traditional full-size triggers.

The power recharging on both controllers leaves something to be desired. They really only put out enough power to keep the phone from draining too much of its battery, and only while the screen is on and the controller is connected via Bluetooth, even if the little 6″ micro-USB cable is connected. While some battery power is likely needed to keep the controller itself working longer than it can recharge, it’s really not that useful of an addition, more of a novelty.

Honestly, the added weight is a great addition to the Hero; the Nexus 4 and the Hero with battery are a perfect weight to use, balanced between controller and phone without one tilting the other. The Pro Power’s added weight doesn’t really do much for the controller, it just feels a bit too heavy. CHECK THIS The new “SMRT Lock” clamps do a great job at holding a phone in the controller. The Pro Power comes with the fantastic tablet stand that came with the Pro; the Hero is lacking this, though. The rubberized sides are a sad omission from the Pro Power, and just overall it feels like it’s taken a step back from the fantastic construction of the original Pro.

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Really, while the MOGA Pro Power is still a solid controller, it’s a step down from the original MOGA Pro, which still works quite well, and is actually cheaper now that it’s on clearance at many stores. Now is the perfect time to pick it up, especially as the power capabilities of the Pro Power aren’t too useful. Meanwhile, the MOGA Hero Power’s flaws and terrible triggers make it a hard controller to recommend; it’s just especially limiting. I can only really recommend it for people that really a portable gaming controller with a clamp for their Android phone that they can stick in their pocket and not in a bag with them. It seems like a small market.

All parenthetical scores below are (Hero/Power):

Dead Trigger 2 Now on Android: Video of the Day

Dead Trigger 2 Now on Android: Video of the Day

Oct 28, 2013

Dead Trigger 2 is out now on Android from Madfinger Games, and it brings with it plenty more zombies, new missions, and a new game structure.

While there’s still plenty of generic missions to do of various types, there’s now narrative-driven missions that mostly involve the objectives done in other missions, but they go a long way toward making the game feel more involving and fun. As well, upgrades are all done through various characters in the menu system, which is a running theme through this game: it’s meant to feel better. That extends to the controls as well.

The touchscreen controls have been made to be more accurate than ever, showing a lot of work has gone into the feel of them. Through a helping of auto-aim and what I can imagine was only endless amounts of tweaking, this might be the best-feeling first-person shooter on touchscreens yet. Of course gamepads are still supported – this is a Madfinger game after all.

We’ll have a full review shortly, but until then, check out video of the game and download it from Google Play.

ARCHOS GamePad 2 Coming Stateside Soon

ARCHOS GamePad 2 Coming Stateside Soon

Oct 10, 2013

Despite having just released the first GamePad earlier this year, ARCHOS is now bringing to the US in the 4th quarter the second of its GamePads, just called GamePad 2. Here are some of the specs on this upcoming device:

-Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
-7-inch 1280x800p IPS display
-1.6 GHz quad-core A9 processor
-2 GB of RAM 8/16 GB of internal storage (microSD slot supports up to 64 GB cards)
-Front-facing camera

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Keep in mind, it doesn’t have the best stats, but the $200 price tag should make it a viable Android gaming option.

Wikipad Gaming Tablet Hardware Review

Wikipad Gaming Tablet Hardware Review

Aug 28, 2013

The Wikipad, the long-awaited 7″ tablet with a controller attachment, is in theory a great device. The gamepad attachment looks a bit big and goofy at first, but it’s a comfortable experience and one of my favorite ways to play games now. But the hardware being a year behind current high-end tablets, especially as a gaming device, causes the Wikipad’s overall value to suffer, which is a shame: this is a fantastic concept.

The body and guts of the tablet are the same as the original Nexus 7: it’s about the same size, has a rubberized back (though with back ridges that jut out), has a Tegra 3 processor with 1 GB of RAM, all the same basics. Running a 3DMark benchmark showed a score of 3629, compared to 4185 in their database for the 2012 Nexus 7, (Update: Futuremark reached out to me and said that this is an error: 3800-3900 is the average benchmark score for the 2012 Nexus 7, the 2013’s benchmark scores are currently mixed in with the old model’s scores.) but it actually outclasses it in two fashions: one, it has a microSD card slot built in so that its storage can be expanded, which is key for the gamer audience that this tablet targets. Second, it has a microHDMI output on the top of the tablet, which is something that the Nexus 7 lacked (even with SlimPort or MHL functionality through the microUSB).

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The tablet is laid out in an intelligent way. Yes, 7-inch tablets are actually quite usable in portrait, but like most tablets, they’re great because they can be used in landscape. And the Wikipad puts its microUSB slot on the bottom, with all other inputs on the top. Sure, it has to by necessity of the gamepad attachment, but still, it’s nice to use a tablet and not have to awkwardly place my hand around the charging cable. And the Wikipad seems to have a lot of background battery drain for whatever reason, so I’m glad it isn’t in the way.

OS-wise, the Wikipad is running 4.1.1 Jelly Bean, which is disappointing now that 4.3 is out and 4.2 has been out for a decent spell. The rest of the OS is largely untouched, so I hope that Wikipad is hard at work at bringing the OS up to speed with 4.3.

Now, the gamepad attachment. Yes, this thing is big, considering that it envelopes the entire tablet. But it turns the 7″ tablet into something that’s the width and height of the Surface Pro, so it’s not necessarily all that huge. It feels a bit weird at first holding a controller that’s far wider than the standard-width gamepads on the market, but it’s not a bad thing.

Wikipad-9

Thanks to the rubberized construction, this thing is an ergonomic joy. The shoulder triggers and bumpers all work well. The face buttons are solid. The d-pad works exceptionally and is great for fighting games if Samurai Shodown 2 is any indication. The joysticks were the only area of skepticism with me, when I tried out Dead Trigger, I had to change the sensitivity of looking in-game in order to make them feel better. Still, using these joysticks was a lot better than the touch screen. I was dropping zombies left and right, which is quite welcome for that game.

The combination of tablet and gamepad attachment is not particularly weighty: perhaps holding it in one hand feels a bit heavy, but with two hands, the weight is properly distributed and feels very comfortable. This is a perfect device for sitting back, and enjoying some Android games that support gamepads. The built-in TegraZone app (also available on Google Play) has a gamepad section that’s worth perusing, though it’s not an exhaustive list. Really, Google not showing which games are compatible with the gamepad is a drawback that needs to be addressed.

Wikipad-12

The gamepad attachment has a microUSB charging port and powered speakers to go along with it, and the charging port is set up in a way that it’s pointing outward, so there’s no awkward cable bending. There was a lot of thought that went into the Wikipad’s physical design, and it shows.

The one big deviation on the OS level is the inclusion of PlayStation Mobile, which is really cool: some of the indie games that are on PS Vita are available here! Except this winds up being a disappointment: there’s no gamepad support! This could be addressed in one of two ways, either Sony enabling HID gamepads in Android for PSM games (since they largely require the manual enabling of a virtual gamepad anyways), or Wikipad implementing touchscreen-to-gamepad mapping. It’s something Archos’ gaming tablet supports, and is something that rooted third-party apps can do, but sadly is not present here despite it seeming quite possible. Think about it: if every game could become possible to use with the gamepad, the value here would be enormous.

Wikipad-2

As for the tablet’s current value, it’s $250 for the tablet and the gamepad. Now, here’s where the problem with the Wikipad lies. This is year-old hardware. Google just refreshed the Nexus 7 and it’s $229 for its 16 GB model, though a decent gamepad isn’t. Nvidia just released the Shield, which is $299 but also one of the most powerful Android devices available with the Tegra 4 processor. So it’s at a disadvantage that it wasn’t at, say, 5 or 6 months ago.

This is not to say that it’s not still capable hardware: it plays most if not all games quite well, though I did notice the occasional stuttering. But that’s true of the 2012 Nexus 7 as well, and given that it’s a very popular device, most if not all games will support it. It’s just, especially for gamers, who are a performance-focused group on the whole, offering them a sub-optimal horsepower is a major ding.

It’s true that this is a unique package, with the gamepad attachment. Just based on that alone, it’s a more interesting proposition than the Playstation Vita because of the screen size. And given the HDMI output and just general design, it’s got a lot of compelling features. But the horsepower issue is one that will keep coming up.

This is kind of like the Surface Pro, a device in comparable size: both are really great ideas, but as products their first generations suffer from not having the most up-to-date hardware. The Surface Pro, with the Intel Haswell processor microarchitecture and its improved power management should make any potential second generation much better. The first generation? Buying into the idea as much as the product. That’s the same with the Wikipad: it’s going to need people buying into the idea, willing to put up with hardware that is not at its peak in order to get what they want eventually. The Wikipad is perhaps the best tablet gaming experience out there on paper, it just needs more horsepower under the hood to be something I can wholeheartedly recommend.

E3 2013: MOGA Announces New Power Series of Controllers

E3 2013: MOGA Announces New Power Series of Controllers

Jun 12, 2013

MOGA’s Pocket and Pro controllers are still relatively new, all things considered, but that doesn’t mean that they’re resting on their laurels. At E3, MOGA has announced the new generation of MOGA controllers, the Power series.

The Pocket Power fixes the key issues of the current MOGA Pocket, which is namely the lack of buttons. The joysticks on the Pocket Power will be clickable. Shoulder buttons will be added in addition to the triggers. As well, a d-pad will be added to the controller, which was missing before. This will definitely improve 2D MOGA games, as well as make the Pocket a feature-complete option, albeit still a secondary one to the Pro.

MOGAPocketPro

The Pro is getting a boost with the Power Pro model that will feature force feedback in games optimized for it. The vibration appears to be powered by Immersion Haptics. Also worth noting on both controller models are new LEDs that appear to indicate multiple controller support.

These controllers are still in the works, but should be available in the Q3-Q4 (North American fall) timeframe.

The Conduit HD Review

The Conduit HD Review

May 31, 2013

The Conduit HD is probably the finest console-quality FPS available on mobile because it actually is a console FPS on mobile. Originally released as a Wii game by High Voltage Studios, they have now brought it to Android with a fresh coat of paint for HD devices, but with the same gameplay. On mobile scale, it’s quite an achievement, but does the title actually work on mobile? It’s a mixed bag.

Players control Michael Ford, a government agent who soon finds himself facing down an alien invasion after being betrayed by a shadow government, and forced to work for the ‘terrorist’ Prometheus who may not be as bad as he seems. Players swap between a variety of weapons and use the “All Seeing Eye” to activate switches, unlock doors, and find hidden items and messages spread throughout the game world.

The Conduit HD doesn’t really do much with the FPS formula that feels all that unique – part of its notability back in 2009 was that it was an original hardcore-focused FPS for the Wii, a casual-focused platform. While console-style gameplay is somewhat lacking on mobile, there have been a several FPS titles that have released, like Gameloft’s whole NOVA and Modern Combat series. So, while it feels a bit unique to be playing this game on mobile, it’s not entirely there.

TheConduitHD-2

The game is freemium, with the first two levels (though the very first is really just an extended tutorial) available for free, and the rest of the game unlockable for $4.99. It’s possible to buy 3-6 and 7-10 for $2.99 each, but…really? Don’t do that. As well, cheats can be bought with IAP.

The game is rather lengthy for a mobile title, with extended-length missions that make the most sense to play while at home sitting down. All the voice acting is still here, even though the plot, full of double-crosses and aliens is somewhat overacted by the cast. However, being called “Mr. Ford” all the time is entertaining for fans of Frisky Dingo.

The controls are a mixed bag. On the touch screen, it’s a wee bit chaotic, what with the virtual joysticks and double-tap actions that can cause random things to happen. My recommendation? Play with a real controller. HID gamepads (like the Xbox 360 controller) and the MOGA controllers are supported, and they’re much better for playing the game than the on-screen controls. Those are fine in a pinch, but this is a real FPS meant to be played with real controls.

And really, that’s the problem. This game is a console game on Android. And not one that is all that original to boot. Those looking for a legitimate FPS experience will want to check this out, especially for owners of physical controllers. They will get their money’s worth. But for those looking for a great mobile FPS…keep looking.

MOGA Pro Bluetooth Gamepad Hardware Review

MOGA Pro Bluetooth Gamepad Hardware Review

May 31, 2013

There are a lot of gamepads available for Android. I mean, a lot. Plus, there’s the ability to plug in Xbox 360 controllers, so the landscape is inordinately crowded. But there might just be a king of the hill finally: the MOGA Pro. This is a Bluetooth gamepad that features the standard Xbox 360 layout, and comes with a tablet stand.

Unlike most controllers where actually usage of the controller feels like an afterthought, the MOGA Pro is incredibly ergonomic and a joy to hold. The controller is light, but the rubberized grips mean that it fits in one’s hand perfectly. Extended gaming sessions are comfortable. The buttons all have a nice, solid response to them, especially the shoulder bumpers and triggers. MOGA claims this is based off of parent company PowerA’s Ecl1pse controller, which is apparently used at tournaments. I can belive it, as this is one nice controller.

The only complaint I have is that the d-pad is a bit on the stiff side, but it may just take some breaking in, and it’s still light years ahead of the 360’s default d-pad. The joysticks are a bit loose for my tastes but that didn’t have a significant impact on me. Try the joysticks out with many games – The Conduit HD had deadzone issues with the joysticks that didn’t arise elsewhere.

MOGAProbyPowerA_Front

Now, the problem with many gamepads that use their own standardized APIs is that it’s a cause of severe fragmentation in a land where the HID protocol exists. The original MOGA controller lacked HID support so some games were left unsupported. Well, the MOGA Pro can be run in “A” mode which supports MOGA-compatible games, and “B” mode which is HID mode. Connecting takes a few seconds when done through the app, but it’s otherwise a painless process. Games that supported HID had no difficulty with me on the MOGA Pro. Sadly, I could not get HID mode to work on Windows 8, which is a shame because this would be a perfect controller to use via Bluetooth. For comparison, the Nyko Playpad’s HID mode kinda works but that controller is also just mediocre.

The MOGA Pivot app is a good portal not just for connecting the controllers to the device but to also find MOGA-compatible games. It’s not a separate store, just a portal, which is quite welcome. Also, the MOGA comes with a code for a free game. Sweet babies!

There are a lot of Android gamepads out there. I issue my highest recommendation for this controller.

The MOGA Pro is available for $49.99 from MOGA’s website and other retailers.

Green Throttle Controller Hardware Review

Green Throttle Controller Hardware Review

Apr 18, 2013

Frankly, I love what is happening in the mobile gaming space. With more powerful hardware and a dedicated corp of eager developers, the segment is booming. And why not? We manage business, control communications and so much more from our smartphones? Why shouldn’t we be able to play console-quality games on the go?

Duh.

Yes, you can get any of the dedicated gaming devices, but what’s the fun in that, especially when cell-based games sewn so much cheaper?

Enter Green Throttle Bluetooth Atlas Bluetooth Controller. Yessir. 2013-04-12 15.15.21

The pair of review pieces came in a nondescript box that his the well packaged goodies inside. The boxes themselves each came stacked, weighing in with a gamepad, instructions, HDMI adapter and — this really impressed me for obvious reasons — batteries.

To be honest, I was surprised at how light the controller was. It seemed sturdy enough though, surviving two drop tests on hardwood without any discernable damage.

To get the controllers up and running, I had to download the companion app Arena, which not only streamlined the pairing prices, but collated compatible games very nicely. Pairing was painless, and the distances allowed was equitable.

I tried the controller with several compatible games, and the performance was impressive. I didn’t detect lag, and I found the experience quite enjoyable. I thought the re-pairing process was slightly inconsistent, but I was generally back up in seconds anyway, albeit manually.

The added HDMI cables take the whole system to a whole new level by allowing for functionality with big screen TV for portable entertainment.

When it comes to handheld gaming, I liked this item enough to want to splurge on compatible titles. This testament to its efficacy also reveals my biggest quibble: I want more games! Thankfully, with available SDK and an all-call to developers to join the party, I am sure that that specific gripe will be licked soon. Customer service was topnotch in my limited interaction.

In a word? Fantastic. This is an item that is helping change the gaming paradigm, and it is always awesome when great ideas actually make it to consumers. With cost effectiveness and mobility on its side, the Arena Controller does seem like a compelling item.

E3 2012: Nyko Announces New Android Controllers That Will Be Compatible With Just About Every Game

E3 2012: Nyko Announces New Android Controllers That Will Be Compatible With Just About Every Game

Jun 7, 2012

Nyko has announced at E3 a new pair of controllers for Android, that come with a software feature that will greatly bolster the usefulness of the controllers.

The Nyko PlayPad and PlayPad Pro are Bluetooth controllers that will connect to Android 3.0 and greater devices, with a focus on tablet support. The PlayPad Pro is similar in design to an Xbox controller, with two analog sticks, a d-pad, four face buttons, 2 shoulder buttons, and 2 shoulder triggers. The regular PlayPad is designed for portability, versus the PlayPad Pro being designed more for home use. The PlayPad is smaller, comes in a carrying case, with a tablet stand to make playback easier. The button layout appears to be similar, with only the triggers possibly removed or modified in this incarnation.

Now, there’s apparently a tantalizing feature in the works through an app called Playground that will greatly expand the use of these controllers. According to our own Jeff Scott, who got to test the controllers at E3, users will be able to take a screenshot of a game, and then use Nyko’s software to configure the controller’s buttons to on-screen commands by dragging commands to where the on-screen buttons are. With this feature, it means that the list of games that could use these controllers is hypothetically unlimited, although naturally, some games will work better with the controls than others. Nyko will offer pre-set profiles for some popular games as well.

However, Nyko is working to get their controls supported directly in some games through a partnership with Nvidia. Some games offered through TegraZone will come with native support for the PlayPad controllers. There’s also the possibility that games that already use Android’s built-in controller support, such as Grand Theft Auto 3, will be supported by the PlayPad contorllers out of the box.

Nyko’s PlayPad and PlayPad Pro are set to hit this fall, with the Playground app set to hit around the same time. We hope to have more on these controllers later this year.

Gametel Introduces Their External Bluetooth Gamepad

It appears as if 2012 is going to be the year of game controllers. The iCade became popular in 2011 for iOS devices, bringing arcade-style controls to iOS gamers (primarily designed for the iPad) via Bluetooth keyboard emulation. The iControlPad was also released, which featured custom controller modes that Android could utilize, along with iCade emulation for iOS games. 60beat recently introduced their GamePad that plugs in through an iOS device’s headphone port.

Now, Gametel is jumping into the gamepad space with their own controller. This controller boasts 6 face buttons; 4 on a diamond on the right hand side along with Select and Start buttons. The device also boasts a pair of triggers.

Importantly, this is designed for use with phones as well as tablets; it comes with a clamp that will hold most Android phones in it. It connects over Bluetooth and supports 4 different control modes: an Android-specific mode configurable with a driver available through Android market; a standard Bluetooth gamepad mode; a standard Bluetooth keyboard emulation mode; finally, a mode that emulates the iCade, designed for iPhone and iPad.

These different modes make it something that is designed to work for any platform that users want to use it on, similar to the iControlPad. However, the iControlPad has additional analog joystick controls along with its buttons and iCade emulation. The Gametel may be limited because of the lack of analog joysticks, but its appeal may primarily be in use for classic games (and of course, emulators, which are plentiful on Android – though occasionally Apple lets one slide by on the App Store).

This should also raise the question if Android developers will ever implement gaming controls in their apps; implementing iCade shouldn’t be difficult as that is a Bluetooth device, and it is also the standard in widest use across the industry, and is the hardware in most users’ hands, either through the accessory directly, or through hardware like the Gametel that can use the same commands. It mainly differs from other gamepads by sending individual keystrokes when a button is pressed, and another keystroke when a button is released. Even with options available for direct gamepad control available to Android users, devices like the Gametel do show that even Android developers should consider implementing this protocol into their game along with standard gamepad support, which Android does support as of 3.x; with the proper cables, try plugging an Xbox controller in to an Android device…