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NEO S controller review – retro hardware that prioritizes customization and convenience
4:00 pm | May 19, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming Gaming Accessories | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

One-minute review

The NEO S is the newest product from CRKD, the creator of one of the best Nintendo Switch accessories in the Nitro Deck. Despite its compact size, there are a surprising amount of features stuffed into the controller that help it stand out in an oversaturated market of controllers for Nintendo’s console. But, if you want something more versatile, the NEO S is also compatible with PC, smart TVs, and mobile which makes for a great all-rounder. 

Given its extensive range of features that pit its capabilities above its peers, there’s a lot that goes into making the NEO S a controller worth adding to your collection. For those after a new go-to Nintendo Switch controller, the NEO S is cheaper than a pair of official Joy-Con controllers as well as the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. Plus, it offers Hall effect thumbsticks to prevent stick drift, alongside neat extras like adaptable triggers and re-mappable back buttons to help further customize your experience. 

These are features that a lot of budget Nintendo Switch controllers don’t offer, but can drastically improve your gaming experience and mark the NEO S as a standout product in its price range. 

The corner of the CRKD Neo S controller.

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

  • $49.99 / £49.99 
  • US and UK availability
  • Slightly pricier than third-party controllers from PowerA and PDP 

The NEO S costs $49.99 / £49.99, and is available through the CRKD store page or via Amazon store. When compared to other ‘collectible’ controllers on the market, the NEO S isn’t an expensive controller by any stretch of the imagination but still falls a little short of being a hugely budget-friendly option for the Nintendo Switch. However, once you factor in that the controller isn’t exclusively compatible with the Nintendo Switch, since you can also connect via PC, mobile, and Smart TV, its price tag does begin to justify itself.  

Specs

A top down view of the CRKD Neo S controller.

(Image credit: Future)

Design and features

The design of the NEO S is its main appeal. As we saw with CRKD’s Nitro Deck variants, the controller initially sells itself on its collectability. Although the unit we are reviewing is the ‘Classic Clear’ variation, the controller launched as part of a collection of nine controllers, all sporting various, vibrant designs. 

The ‘Classic Clear’ design is quite literal, offering a translucent clear shell that allows you to see all the inner workings. Both thumbsticks and the d-pad and home buttons are black, and both triggers and back buttons are a light gray, but a pop of color is added through the face buttons. As a whole, the design of the controller is a blatant stab at replicating the retro side of 90s hardware, especially with its translucent design and vibrant buttons. It’s a sturdy build, though the face buttons somewhat betray the NEO S with a cheap feel compared to the rest of the controller.

The bottom left hand side of the CRKD Neo S.

(Image credit: Future)

One of the main concerns I had about the design of the NEO S prior to use was its potential discomfort during longer gaming sessions due to its rectangular shape. For players used to using controllers with grips, the NEO S will feel like a drastic difference since it's a very flat gamepad. But, even though the product looks as though it’ll be uncomfortable in your hands after using it for a few hours, curves on the back support your hands and provide a grip for overall more comfortable gaming. 

The design of the back of the controller and where your hands naturally sit during use provide easier access to the pair of re-mappable back buttons. This is ideal if you need to quickly input something without moving your hands from the sticks or buttons on the front of the controller. Even though it does stray from the traditional controller shape in favor of something reminiscent of early Nintendo consoles like the SNES and NES, it's clear that the NEO S has been made with its ergonomics in mind to ensure it's consistently comfortable to use. 

Performance

The NEO S is incredibly easy to set up straight out of the box regardless of which platform you’re connecting it to. For Nintendo Switch, it’s as simple as holding down the central CRKD button in the controller connect screen from the main menu while you can use the USB-C cable that comes with the controller to connect to a PC. 

There are a lot of in-built features that make the NEO S feel like a high-quality product, especially given its reasonable price tag. You’ll feel the benefits of rumble, which you can increase or decrease the intensity of via the app, and motion controls which are essential for games on the Nintendo Switch like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Splatoon 3. For those looking for a more reactive gaming experience, you can fine-tune everything from trigger to thumbstick sensitivity. 

Due to the amount of individual features you can customize, the experience can be tailored to suit your exact needs. Although you can use the controller straight away, there are noticeable dead zones for games that require fast movement such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, meaning that there are certain distances you have to move your thumbsticks before inputs register in- game. Fortunately, the controller also comes with a no deadzone mode which you can toggle on and off in the same way you’re available to adjust trigger sensitivity and remap the back buttons.

The back of the CRKD Neo S.

(Image credit: Future)

This can all be done through the CRKD app, where you can scan in your controller to see your product number and its rarity. This is great if you’re an avid collector of hardware, and lean into the collectible side of CRKD products. However, alongside accessing all this information, a large button labeled ‘CTRL’ (also referred to as CRKD CTRL) is your gateway to customizing your controller and also installing any future firmware updates. Even if you’ve never personalized a controller before, the app does a great job at walking you through it step by step so you know exactly what you’re doing. 

All in all it’s a neat bit of tech that offers everything you could need for a Nintendo Switch controller. Paired with a battery life that lasts around eight and a half hours from my testing, given I only had to charge it once during my 20-hour testing period, it’s a vital addition if you need a decent spare gamepad or something far more comfortable than the Joy-Con. But although its offerings don’t necessarily fall short when connected to a PC, Smart TV, or mobile, they do feel more tailored to the Switch which is why we hold our comparison so close to alternative third-party controllers designed for the system. 

Should I buy the NEO S?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

 Also consider

If you’re not keen on the NEO S, take a look at these two alternatives.

The CRKD Neo S controller.

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the NEO S

  • Tested for 25 hours
  • Tested across Nintendo Switch and PC 
  • Compared to other third-party controllers at the same price point

I tested the NEO S controller on both Nintendo Switch and PC for over 20 hours on a variety of games. For the Nintendo Switch, I tested the controller within games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Super Smash Bros Ultimate, whereas I used it for games like Stardew Valley, Duck Game, and Tekken 8 on PC. The programmable back buttons and customizable dead zones of the controller gave me the opportunity to personalize my settings to suit whatever game I was playing, which is a feature many alternative products lack. 

Given the mid to high price point for a third-party Nintendo Switch controller, I wanted to see how it stacks up against its competitors - especially given the emphasis on the collectible side of the product over its performance.

To ensure thorough and honest testing, I used a variety of other controllers at a similar price, such as the PDP Afterglow, and during the testing period within the same games, and can say with confidence that the NEO S offers a solid, more personal performance due to its customizable features, alongside a sturdy build quality and unique design that makes it a product well worth considering if you’re looking for an alternative gamepad that also looks the part. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed May 2024

Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller review: excellent for Xbox, awful for Android
5:00 pm | May 18, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming Gaming Accessories | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

The Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller is a more expensive variant of the Turtle Beach Recon Controller that introduces a detachable phone mount and wireless support for Android devices and PC.

Despite these new additions, it maintains all the functionality of the original Turtle Beach Recon Controller when used as a wired controller for Xbox or PC. This makes it a solid wired option, though the cheap-feeling phone mount and input latency while playing in wireless mode make it difficult to recommend considering the high asking price.

Like the Turtle Beach Recon Controller, the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller has a lot in common with the standard Xbox Wireless Controller. It has roughly the same shape, satisfying buttons and robust thumbsticks, a similar concave D-pad, and equally smooth triggers. Everything feels reassuringly familiar in the hands – but there are several key additions that really set the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller apart.

A close-up shot of the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller.

(Image credit: Future)

For starters, there are the on-board audio controls that sit just above the Xbox Home button. With a headset plugged into the controller’s 3.5mm jack, these can be used to adjust the overall game volume, adjust chat volume, quickly mute the microphone, and alternate between a range of in-built equalizer (EQ) settings. There’s also a Pro Aim Focus Mode, which decreases the sensitivity of the right thumbstick for more careful aiming, and a Superhuman Hearing mode that boosts the sound of key in-game audio cues like enemy footsteps. Each of these settings is accompanied by a bright LED indicator and, while it all makes for quite a complex-looking set of controls, it’s surprisingly easy to get used to.

On the back of the controller, you’ll find two rear buttons that can be mapped to a range of inputs using either the controller itself or the compatible Turtle Beach Control Centre software. In addition to the 3.5mm jack, the bottom of the controller offers a switch to toggle between the wired and wireless modes and a small Bluetooth pairing button. A standard USB Type-C port is located on the top of the controller, above a screw hole for the detachable phone mount. This phone mount itself is very simple and features an extending clasp that can fit a wide range of models. Thanks to the presence of a small kickstand, it can also be used as a basic standalone phone stand when it’s not attached to the controller. Unfortunately, while the controller feels high-quality, the phone mount is mainly constructed from a thin and cheap plastic. 

Worse still, slotting in a phone makes the controller extremely top-heavy and therefore massively uncomfortable to use. I tested the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller with a Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus, and found that the uneven weight quickly left both of my wrists feeling sore. This is a complete deal breaker for a mobile controller, as it renders the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller almost impossible to use for an extended period of time while you’re out and about. By far the best way to play is to use the phone mount’s kickstand to position your phone on a desk – though at this point, you’re better off saving some cash and picking up the standard Xbox Wireless Controller (which is also readily compatible with Android) instead.

The Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller with a mobile phone attached.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Throughout my testing, there were occasional instances where the controller would feel sluggish as a result of input latency. None of the games I tested were ever unplayable, but it definitely detracted from my enjoyment of fast-paced mobile titles like Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile. This issue persists while using the controller with game-streaming services like Xbox Cloud Gaming and Amazon Luna, exacerbating any existing delay caused by your internet connection. Many of the best features of the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller, like the onboard audio controls, are also completely unavailable in Bluetooth mode, which seems like a bizarre limitation.

It’s worth noting that the controller can also be used with a PC via Bluetooth, where it feels much snappier than on Android, but you still lose quite a bit of functionality. Strangely, there's no way to use the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller wirelessly with an Xbox. All of this is a huge shame given the impressive 30-hour battery life, not to mention its superb performance as a wired controller. In wired mode, the controller is fast and responsive. The onboard audio controls are hugely useful if you often play online with friends and are a great match for games that require frequent communication like Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction or Fortnite

As all of these features are already available on the more affordable Turtle Beach Recon Controller, there’s very little reason to consider the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller instead.

The mobile phone mount of the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Price and availability

  •  $79.95 / £69.99
  •  Available from Turtle Beach and other retailers in the US and UK
  •  Not widely available in Australia

The Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller costs $79.95 / £69.99 and is available from Turtle Beach and other retailers such as Amazon. It costs $20 / £20 more than the Turtle Beach Recon Controller, which comes in at $59.95 / £49.99, so you’re paying a hefty premium for the removable phone clip and the addition of Android functionality. This price also puts the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller at roughly $20 / £15 above the Xbox Wireless Controller. As the Xbox Wireless Controller works well with Android, those after a peripheral to use with their phones would be better off buying one and using the leftover cash to pick up a third-party phone stand.

Specs

The Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller being used with a PC.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Should I buy the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

 Also Consider

If you’re not keen on the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller, these two lower-cost alternatives are definitely the way to go. 

A photo showing the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller on a desk.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

How I tested the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller

  • Tested for over 11 hours
  • Used with Xbox, PC, and Android
  • Compared to hands-on experience with other controllers

I went hands-on with the Turtle Beach Recon Cloud Controller for more than 11 hours. During this time, I endeavored to spend a good amount of time testing the controller with an Xbox Series S console, a PC, and a compatible Android phone. 

On Xbox and PC, I tested a broad range of games including online titles such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Fortnite where I aimed to try out the on-board audio controls with a SteelSeries Tusq gaming headset. I also spent some time in a range of single-player games including Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix+ and Fallout 4.

In order to evaluate the mobile performance, I tested the controller with a Samsung Galaxy S23+, playing popular mobile titles such as Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile, Vampire Survivors, Diablo Immortal, and Genshin Impact. I also utilized a range of game streaming services, including Xbox Cloud Gaming, Amazon Luna, and Antstream Arcade in order to test the streaming performance.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed May 2024

Razer Kishi Ultra review: the best mobile controller on the market
6:00 pm | May 12, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming Gaming Accessories | Comments: Off

One-minute review

The Razer Kishi Ultra is quite simply the best mobile controller on the market. It offers an unparalleled portable gaming experience thanks to its supremely comfortable full-size grips, smooth thumbsticks and Hall effect triggers, gorgeous mechanical buttons, and an abundance of high-end features like customizable RGB lighting and punchy haptics. 

When paired with an iPad Mini or compatible big-screen mobile phone, the Razer Kishi Ultra can give many of the best handheld consoles a serious run for their money. It’s absolutely perfect for all kinds of native mobile titles from retro favorites like Sonic the Hedgehog to recent hits such as Honkai: Star Rail and Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile. It also works well with a range of game streaming services, not to mention a selection of console emulators, making it easier than ever to enjoy your favorite games on the go.

Its excellent companion app even offers a handy virtual controller mode that ensures compatibility with software that doesn't otherwise offer dedicated mobile controller support - an excellent inclusion that adds even more value to the overall package. The Razer Kishi Ultra might be expensive compared to much of the competition, but it’s well worth splashing out on if you won’t settle for anything but the best.

The corner of a Razer Kishi Ultra attached to an iPad Mini.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Price and availability

  • $149.99 / £149.99 / AU$269.95 
  • Available via Razer and other retailers
  • More expensive than most mobile controllers 

There’s no getting around the fact that the Razer Kishi Ultra is expensive. At $149.99 / £149.99 / AU$269.95, it costs much more than competitors like the Backbone One which is priced at $99.99 / £99.99 / AU$179. That said, the Razer Kishi Ultra offers far superior controls which I believe justifies the added cost. 

Things become a little less straightforward when you compare the Razer Kishi Ultra to the Nintendo Switch Lite, though. The Razer Kishi Ultra is only $50 / £50 / AU$60 less than the Nintendo Switch Lite and, while the Nintendo Switch Lite is less comfortable to use, it is easier to transport and boasts compatibility with all of the best Nintendo Switch games. Your decision between the two is ultimately going to come down to the types of games that you enjoy. If you want a new way to play your favorite mobile titles, the Razer Kishi Ultra is simply unbeatable.

Specs

The Razer Kishi Ultra placed on a colorful blue desk mat.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Design and features

The design of the Razer Kishi Ultra is effectively a cross between the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma and a traditional extending mobile controller like the Razer Kishi V2. It features two sides of a full-size controller that sandwich a spring-loaded back that can extend to accommodate a wide range of devices. Three sets of rubber cushions, which can be slotted into both sides of the spring-loaded back, are included in the box, offering a small degree of customizability when it comes to the fit around your device.

The controller attaches to your phone or tablet through a USB Type-C connector, which is located on the right-hand side. In addition to the iPhone 15 Series and Android phones, the Razer Kishi Ultra can fit a 6th-generation iPad Mini and a variety of small Android tablets. This is quite rare given the tiny size of most mobile controllers and means that the Razer Kishi Ultra is a brilliant match for iPad Mini owners, especially those who want to enjoy the many controller-compatible titles found on Apple Arcade.

The top of the Razer Kishi Ultra attached to an iPad Mini.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

The grips themselves are constructed of a quite thick, robust plastic with a pleasant grippy texture on their undersides. The face buttons use Razer’s Mecha-tactile switches, which are extremely responsive and very pleasantly clicky. The same switches are used for the two small customizable inputs, which are located on the top of the controller right next to full-size Hall-effect triggers and large shoulder buttons. They are also used for the clicky D-pad, which features a very thin and slightly concave design.

The thumbsticks of the Razer Kishi Ultra are full-size and positioned asymmetrically. While they unfortunately do not make use of Hall effect technology, they do both feature an “anti-friction ring” that Razer claims will enhance durability. While I have yet to see whether they will stand the test of time, I found that they were very smooth and still a huge upgrade compared to the stubby, awkward thumbsticks of the Backbone One. The controller also features a standard home button, a menu button, an options button, a screenshot button, and a unique Razer Nexus button - which opens the Razer Nexus app.

A small strip of RGB lighting also runs down the side of each grip. It’s bright and very eye-catching, lending the entire controller a more premium look. This is in addition to a small indicator LED on the right-hand side of the controller, which is mainly used to show a successful connection during the quick setup process. In terms of ports, on the bottom of the controller you will find a 3.5mm jack, which can be used to connect a wired gaming headset or a pair of the best gaming earbuds, and a USB Type-C port. 

In addition to acting as a charging passthrough, allowing you to charge your device while you play, the Type-C port can be used to connect the Razer Kishi Ultra to a PC where it functions as a standard wired controller - though a cable to do so is not included in the box.

The side of the Razer Kishi Ultra.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Performance

The Razer Kishi Ultra is by far the best-performing mobile controller that I have ever tested. The high quality of its build is apparent right out of the box thanks to the delightfully smooth black plastic and the controller’s reassuring heft. Although it makes this mobile controller particularly difficult to transport, its large size is easily its best asset as it offers enough room for full-size controls. The thumbsticks are an absolute dream, finally offering a mobile controller experience that feels truly console-quality. The same can be said of the buttons, which are well-positioned and almost identical in size to those found on the Xbox Wireless Controller.

I first tested the Razer Kishi Ultra by clasping it around an iPad Mini and was absolutely blown away. I sampled a range of Apple Arcade titles, including the recently added Dicey Dungeons+ and Sonic Dream Team, and everything worked seamlessly from the get-go. The grips themselves are incredibly comfortable too and, having spent some time with the beautifully crisp display of the iPad Mini, I don’t think that I could ever go back to the Nintendo Switch Lite again.

The Razer Kishi Ultra is also a brilliant performer with mobile phones. Testing Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile on a Samsung Galaxy S23+ felt almost indistinguishable from a fully-fledged match of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on console. Swapping over to an iPhone 15 Plus, this strong performance carried over to game streaming services including Amazon Luna and Xbox Cloud Gaming, in addition to the Delta Game Emulator, which all worked perfectly.

If that wasn’t enough, the Razer Nexus app is snappy and responsive, boasting a helpful list of titles with full controller compatibility that massively simplifies the process of finding new things to play. 

Image 1 of 2

The virtual controller software of the Razer Nexus app.

(Image credit: Riot Games)
Image 2 of 2

A screenshot of the Razer Nexus app.

(Image credit: Razer)

The app also offers a range of calibration settings, RGB customization, and basic button remapping for the two additional inputs. By far the most impressive feature it offers is the virtual controller mode, however, which allows you to map various controller inputs to certain points on the screen. This means that you can use the controller to play games that don’t offer any dedicated controller support, such as the hugely popular League of Legends: Wild Rift. The setup process was a little fiddly, requiring a lot of experimentation to find the right layout, but it worked very well once configured. 

Although it's sadly not currently supported by iOS, those playing with an Android device can also make use of the brand-new Razer Sensa HD haptics. They’re powered by a mode that automatically converts game audio into haptic feedback. It isn’t currently supported by many titles, but it leads to surprisingly detailed haptic sensations where it’s offered. Taking the example of Jetpack Joyride, the minigun jetpack created a suitably light buzz while each crashing footstep of the Lil' Stomper powerup conveyed a real sense of weight.

When it comes to performance as a wired PC controller, the Razer Kishi Ultra is adequate. The haptics are still a strong suit, though the overall shape makes PC play awkward. While I wouldn’t advise anyone to go out and buy a Razer Kishi Ultra specifically to use it for PC gaming, it would certainly do in a pinch.

Should I buy the Razer Kishi Ultra?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Consider these two alternatives if you want something smaller or considerably more budget-friendly than the Razer Kishi Ultra.

The Razer Kishi Ultra attached to an iPad Mini being used to play Hitman: Blood Money.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

How I tested the Razer Kishi Ultra

  • Tested for more than 15 hours 
  • Tested with a range of devices 
  • Compared to similar products

I tested the Razer Kishi Ultra for more than 15 hours, using it as my primary mobile controller for almost a month. During that time, I played a wide range of mobile titles and used the controller with multiple devices including an iPad Mini, iPhone 15 Plus, and Samsung Galaxy S23+. In addition to a good selection of native mobile titles, I tried the controller with several game streaming services and a few console emulators. While out and about, I used the controller with a SteelSeries Tusq gaming headset.

I made sure to experience every hardware feature, in addition to everything in the Razer Nexus app. I was also careful to test the controller’s functionality when wired with a PC, using it to play through a significant portion of Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, where I compared my experience to using other controllers such as the DualSense Wireless Controller and Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed May 2024

JBL Quantum 910X review: great gaming audio, but some rough edges
6:00 pm | April 20, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming Gaming Accessories | Tags: , | Comments: Off

One-minute review

A high-end wireless gaming headset designed for Xbox, the JBL Quantum 910X falls just short of earning a place among the best Xbox Series X headsets. That’s not to say that it isn't still a formidable option, however, as it offers an excellent level of comfort that’s backed up by rich audio; it’s absolutely perfect for many of the best Xbox Series X games. In addition to Xbox, it’s also fully compatible with PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and PC, making it a strong multi-platform choice.

Unfortunately, the flagship feature of the JBL Quantum 910X, its head-tracking 360 degree spatial audio, is a mixed bag. The head-tracking itself is exceptional, simulating your head motion perfectly, but the audio quality takes a substantial hit whenever the feature is enabled. The bass becomes almost non-existent, completely ruining the punchy action of first-person shooter (FPS) titles like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, while the high end frequencies sound sharp and unpleasant. If your number one concern is high-quality spatial sound, no shortage of cheaper headsets like the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X, offer far superior spatial audio.

The microphone is the only other major area where the JBL Quantum 910X falls behind the competition. It lacks adjustability and leaves your voice sounding grainy and quiet. It’s by no means unusable, but this is nowhere near the level of performance that you would reasonably expect for this price. Whether this is the headset for you is therefore going to depend on whether these two shortcomings are a total deal breaker but, if they’re not, there’s still an awful lot to like here.

The JBL Quantum 910X resting on a wooden table.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Price and availability

  • $299.95 / £219.99 
  • Available in the US and UK
  • Better value in the UK 

The JBL Quantum 910X costs $299.95 / £219.99 and is available in the US and UK directly from JBL or at retailers like Amazon. In the US, this comes in slightly cheaper than other high-end gaming headsets, such as the $329.99 / £279.99 Turtle Beach Stealth Pro, but is still firmly in premium territory. All things considered, it’s quite a reasonable price when you factor in the presence of high-end features such as active noise cancellation, not to mention customizable RGB lighting and the robust build quality.

Even so, UK price represents the best value of the two regions. At £219.99, the headset is a massive £60 less expensive than the Turtle Beach Stealth Pro, widening the gap between the two headsets and making the JBL Quantum 910X a much more tempting proposition.

Unfortunately, the JBL Quantum 910X is not currently available in Australia.

Specs

The left ear cup of the  JBL Quantum 910X.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Design and features

The exterior of the JBL Quantum 910X is primarily constructed from a smooth black plastic. Its ear cups are covered in bright RGB lighting, illuminating in a ring around each ear in addition to an area with a small grill-like pattern and a prominent embossed JBL logo. The lighting is set to green by default which is perfect if you intend to use the headset with an Xbox out of the box. This lighting can be fully customized through the compatible JBL Quantum Engine software on a PC.

Each ear cup is connected to the headband with a clear plastic strip and a short braided cable, which is black with subtle green stripes. The clear plastic portion can be extended or retracted in order to customize the fit, engraved with numbers that indicate different sizing settings. The ear cups themselves then use soft black pleather cushions, which are a generous size and pleasantly soft.

The same cushioning is also found on the underside of the headband itself, which is topped with black plastic covered in a tactile grooved design. Although the JBL Quantum 910X is  notably heavier than many other gaming headsets, weighing a hefty 14.8oz / 420g, the comfortable cushions makes it surprisingly easy to wear for extended periods without discomfort.

Both ear cups of the JBL Quantum 910X wireless gaming headset.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

The microphone is attached to the left ear cup and can be raised or lowered. It’s muted by default in its raised position, indicated by a small red LED light near its tip. There’s also a separate dedicated microphone mute button on the back of the ear cup, which is handy if you want to quickly mute the microphone without having to raise it. This is positioned below a volume dial, a volume mixer dial (which changes the balance between in-game audio and audio from a connected mobile phone), and a switch which enables or disables the headset’s active noise cancellation. On the bottom of the left ear cup you will also find the USB Type-C port, which can be used for both charging and wired play. It’s next to a 3.5mm headphone jack and superb braided cables for both are included in the box.

Controls on the right ear cup are simpler, with a power slider that doubles as a switch to enable Bluetooth connectivity and a simple button that alternates between standard audio, spatial sound, and full head-tracking. Although it can be used out of the box, spatial sound can be further calibrated for enhanced precision in the JBL Quantum Engine software.

This is a simple process with clear on screen instructions, but does require an included detachable microphone to sit in your ear. Factor in the wireless dongle, which comes alongside a compact USB Type-A to USB Type-C converter and that’s a lot of separate accessories to keep track of. Luckily, the headset comes with an absolutely lovely plush gray bag which is perfect for keeping everything in one place.

The JBL Quantum 910X resting on top of its carrying bag.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Performance

In its standard mode, the JBL Quantum 910X performs excellently on the whole. It offers punchy, rich bass, clear mids, and detailed high-end frequencies. While its overall audio profile might be a little too bass-heavy for audiophile music listening, it’s absolutely perfect for gaming and the range of titles I tested sounded superb. Shots in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 packed some serious punch on Xbox Series S, while the streets of Sotenbori in the PC version of Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name felt impressively life-like.

The emphasis on bass is also an excellent fit for rhythm games and I enjoyed quite a bit of success challenging myself with “JITTERBUG” on Extreme difficulty in Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone on PS5. The JBL Quantum Engine software offers a range of useful equalizer modes and is, on the whole, some of the best companion software that I’ve ever tested. It offers an impressive number of functions, features an intuitive and attractive UI, and is lightning fast while taking up just 255MB of space. A mobile app or a native application for Xbox would enable those without access to a PC to benefit from its features, but otherwise there is nothing to complain about here.

The software of the  JBL Quantum 910X.

(Image credit: JBL)

Returning to the headset, the on-board controls are well-spaced and responsive, while the active noise cancellation is a treat. It’s very effective and managed to block out almost everything that I could throw at it, ranging all the way from nearby conversations to loud passing vehicles. I also consistently managed to squeeze an impressive 32 hours of battery life out of the headset, which was more than enough for a full week of gaming sessions.

Unfortunately, the performance with the spatial audio mode enabled is a completely different story. The illusion of depth is there, but the bass instantly vanishes leading to an incredibly tinny sound that lacks any impact whatsoever. It’s like listening to a tiny pair of cheap speakers in a massive hall, an impression that is only further reinforced by the oddly echoey sound of any dialogue.

The optional head tracking, which sees the audio source shift as you look around, is incredibly accurate and well worth experimenting with for a few minutes, but the dramatic fall in audio quality means that it’s impossible to recommend using the spatial audio mode for any substantial length of time which is a huge shame.

The microphone performance is also disappointing. The physical microphone itself is unusually rigid and cannot be adjusted to be closer or further away from your mouth very easily. I found that this meant that my voice often sounded rather quiet and a little muddy. I was still easy to understand, once every participant of my calls had adjusted their volume accordingly, but this really shouldn't be necessary with such an expensive peripheral.

The JBL Quantum 910X on a wooden table placed next to a black Xbox controller.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Should I buy the JBL Quantum 910X?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If you’re not keen on the JBL Quantum 910X, you should consider these two compelling Xbox-compatible alternatives instead. 

How I tested the JBL Quantum 910X

  • Used daily for over a month
  • Tested with a wide range of platforms
  • Compared to other premium gaming headsets

I tested the JBL Quantum 910X for over a month, using it as my main gaming headset. During that time, I tested the headset with Xbox Series S, PlayStation 5, PC, and Nintendo Switch playing a broad range of titles. In addition to my usual favorites, I tried to focus on some modern games that offer rich sound, including the likes of Counter-Strike 2, Need for Speed Unbound, The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered, and Fortnite. In order to test the microphone, I used the headset for multiple online gaming sessions and recorded a number of audio files with Audacity.

Throughout my time with the headset, I was careful to compare the experience with my hands-on time with other high-end gaming headsets such as the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X, Astro A50 X, and Turtle Beach Stealth Pro .

Read more about how we test

First reviewed April 2024

GameSir Nova Lite controller review: a cheap controller we can actually recommend
7:09 pm | April 17, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming Gaming Accessories | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

One-minute review

The GameSir Nova Lite is a much better controller than its ultra-low price suggests. Yes, it’s a little on the basic side, lacking fancier premium features like RGB lighting and additional remappable buttons; but it makes up for this by simply being a very solid, long-lasting controller that's available at a fantastic price.

Despite the GameSir Nova Lite’s low price, the build quality is very solid, and the textured grips on the rear are a welcome addition. What’s more, the inclusion of Hall-effect thumbsticks help to give the controller a much longer lifespan by effectively eliminating the risk of stick drift, and while this is to be expected for the brand’s products, as we see with the GameSir T4 Kaleid and GameSir X2s Type-C, it’s very welcome at this price. 

It’s not the most feature-rich controller, nor does it have the highest-quality modules. It is, though, excellent value for money, which makes the GameSir Nova Lite well worth considering if you’re looking to purchase a new (or spare) PC, Nintendo Switch, or Android controller without breaking the bank.

GameSir Nova Lite

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

  • $24.99 / £29.99 (around AU$40)
  • One of the cheapest controllers we’d actually recommend
  • US and UK availability

The GameSir Nova Lite is available now for $24.99 / £29.99 (around AU$40) either from the brand’s official website or its Amazon store page. While US and UK availability is plentiful, folks in Australia may need to look at importing one, as it’s not officially available there at the time of writing.

It's easy to be suspicious of a controller with such a low price tag. However, in our testing across multiple products, we’ve found GameSir to be an highly reputable brand that consistently puts out some of the best Nintendo Switch controllers and best PC controllers.

So, while the Nova Lite sheds some advanced features in service to keeping its price point low, you can still expect to find a quality product here. That said, if you’d prefer a step up in quality and more robust features, we can also recommend the excellent GameSir T4 Kaleid ($41.99 / £41.99), though this is a wired-only option.

Specs

GameSir Nova Lite

(Image credit: Future)

Design and features

There’s admittedly not much to discuss in terms of features for the GameSir Nova Lite; it’s a bare bones product by design. But at this price point, that’s to be expected. And the Nova Lite still impresses with its overall design and, albeit limited, feature set.

Build quality, while certainly not as sturdy as the Nacon Revolution 5 Pro or the 8BitDo Ultimate, is nonetheless impressive given the bargain price. Here, you’re getting a solid build that doesn’t feel overly hollow, and it rests nicely in the hands thanks to effective textured grips on the rear of the gamepad.

Buttons and modules are pretty serviceable across the board, with some rather nice-feeling membrane face buttons and triggers. However, the bumpers and d-pad leave something to be desired, feeling slightly chunky and not particularly satisfying to press. As a result, it’s not recommended for games that make liberal use of the d-pad, such as the best fighting games or menu-heavy RPGs.

As we’ve come to expect from GameSir products, though, the Nova Lite’s thumbsticks greatly impress. These are Hall-sensing thumbsticks, which you’ll now find in many third-party gamepads as the design helps to greatly reduce the risk of stick drift. This greatly extends the lifespan of the controller, and they’re a welcome addition here, especially considering the Nova Lite’s low price tag.

GameSir Nova Lite

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

While straightforward in terms of design, GameSir has still provided the Nova Lite with a few nifty tricks up its sleeve. Chief among these is the robust function button, which again is surprisingly versatile for its budget price tag. The button, situated between the d-pad and right analog stick, can accomplish several things through various button macros.

For instance, holding the function button while pressing up or down on the d-pad lets you adjust the controller’s vibration intensity. You can also adjust each thumbstick’s dead zone by holding the button, moving a stick, then releasing. Lastly, you can switch the Nova Lite between XInput, Nintendo Switch or Android compatibility by holding the function button and pressing the Start and Select buttons simultaneously – though do note that the controller needs to be connected via USB-C in order for this last one to work.

Otherwise you’re getting unremarkable yet solid performance from the GameSir Nova Lite. I found it to be an excellent fit on PC, playing a range of games in my Steam library including Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania, Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection and Dark Souls 3 during testing. It’s perfectly responsive via Bluetooth, too, and the controller felt at home with many of the best Nintendo Switch games, including Princess Peach: Showtime! and Super Mario Odyssey.

The only major drawback to note with the GameSir Nova Lite is its battery life. Via 2.4GHz, I managed just 10-11 hours of playtime from full charge, which lines up with GameSir’s own estimates. However, if you’d rather opt for Bluetooth connectivity via Nintendo Switch or mobile devices, you may be able to squeeze in up to 15 hours, which is slightly more palatable.

GameSir Nova Lite

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the GameSir Nova Lite?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Want to learn about a broader range of top PC controllers? Consider the following options, which are some of our favorite alternative picks.

How I tested the GameSir Nova Lite

  • Tested for 15 hours 
  • Tested with PC and Nintendo Switch games
  • Compared with other recommended and affordable PC controllers

I tested the GameSir Nova Lite for roughly 15 hours, mixing wired and wireless play across Nintendo Switch and PC. I made sure to test the controller with a range of game genres, from fast-paced fighting games to slower, more deliberate platformers, puzzle games and RPGs.

I also compared the Nova Lite up to some of its budget-friendly peers, including the GameSir T4 Kaleid, Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and 8BitDo Ultimate. While the Nova Lite didn’t quite stack up to any of these options in either features or battery life, it still provided adequate performance given its ultra-low price tag.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed April 2024

PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller with Lumectra review – a dazzling alternative to the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
2:24 pm | April 11, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming Gaming Accessories | Comments: Off

One-minute review

The PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller with Lumectra succeeds as a very worthwhile alternative to the tried-and-tested Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. Not only does it undercut Nintendo’s official Switch gamepad in terms of price, but it’s fantastic on its own merits, offering a sturdy and comfortable build with welcome extras like programmable buttons and the titular Lumectra RGB lighting.

Said lighting effects are the star of the show and are fully customizable on the controller itself via several inputs. You can also expect rock-solid performance over a wireless Bluetooth connection and some fantastic-feeling buttons and triggers. 

There are some notable drawbacks, though. Namely, this is exclusively a Nintendo Switch controller with very limited usability on Android phones. This also means no support for PC, PlayStation, or Xbox consoles. Some may also miss the lack of HD Rumble and - for amiibo collectors - near-field communication (NFC) support.

PowerA Lumectra

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

  • $64.99 / £59.99 (around AU$99.99) 
  • Beats the Pro Controller’s price by $5 in the US
  • Available in the US and UK

The PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller with Lumectra is only available in the US and UK at present. Coming in at $64.99 / £59.99 (around AU$99.99), folks in the US can purchase it from PowerA’s official website or Amazon or GameStop. UK shoppers will need to rely exclusively on Amazon.

It’s an impressive price point for US folks, especially, as they’ll find the controller is $5 cheaper than the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller ($69.99 / £59.99). Conversely, it is $5 pricier than the standard PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller, for which you’re getting those lovely RGB effects. Otherwise, both are largely identical in terms of build, performance, and extras like those remappable rear buttons.

It’s great that the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller with Lumectra either undercuts or price matches the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller in the US and UK respectively, but it’s not a net gain. You are losing out on NFC support for amiibo scanning and PC support.

Specs

PowerA Lumectra

(Image credit: Future)

Design and features

If you’ve used a PowerA Enhanced wireless or wired controller in the past, you’re getting a near-enough identical experience with this Lumectra edition. This means you’re getting fantastic, sturdy build quality and an ergonomic design that rests easily in the hands. It’s an all-plastic finish (matte on the front and rear, with a glossier sheen up top) with lightly textured grips giving a secure feel.

By and large, buttons and modules are all very solid here; there’s nothing particularly outstanding or disappointing. The asymmetrical concave analog sticks and bouncy face buttons feel pleasant to use, and the d-pad - while rather basic - doesn’t feel overly mushy or listless; a problem I have with the official Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.

It’s the triggers that are a particular highlight here. While they have a peculiar pointed design, they’re digital, meaning you’re getting instant travel time for quick and responsive inputs.

On the rear side of the controller, you have two remappable buttons. They’re useful for assigning a secondary input should you need, and are easily managed by holding the center-rear ‘Program’ button for a couple of seconds, followed by the rear button you wish to assign, and finally one of the front-facing buttons, bumpers, or triggers. It’s simple and easy.

PowerA Lumectra

(Image credit: Future)

The star of the show here is the titular Lumectra RGB lighting; it’s genuinely awesome. By pressing the lighting button on the rear of the controller, you can enter Lumectra’s customization mode where you’re able to cycle through four highlighted lighting areas: left and right strips, left analog stick and face buttons, and lastly the d-pad and right analog stick.

Learning how it all works can be tricky at first, as customization all happens on-board (there’s no external app as we see with the likes of the GameSir T4 Kaleid) and there are a fair few shortcuts to learn. Handily, the included instruction booklet (and the online user manual available on the store page) will run you through all the shortcuts. These include altering colors, brightness, and patterns for each of the four areas.

After fiddling around with Lumectra’s settings, what results is a very eye-catching controller, and the impressive level of customization means you can create a wide range of patterns and colors. It’s the flagship feature of the product and some of the best-implemented RGB I’ve seen on a controller to date.

PowerA Lumectra

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

The use case for the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller with Lumectra is surprisingly limited, especially when paired up against other Switch gamepads. This is because it will only work wirelessly - via Bluetooth - with Nintendo Switch consoles. You can hook it up to your Switch’s dock for charging and a wired connection, but there’s no USB-C cable included in the box.

Now, this is fine if your intent is to play exclusively Nintendo Switch games with the controller, but those looking for something more versatile should know that it cannot be used on PC, which is a huge shame. You can hook it up to an Android device via Bluetooth, but in testing both native games and ones available via cloud streaming, I found input latency to be tragically bad, rendering it nigh-unusable for mobile devices.

Those gripes aside, this is still an excellent Nintendo Switch controller. Pairing via Bluetooth was instantaneous and it was highly responsive across a range of genres. Whether it was for more laid-back games like Princess Peach: Showtime! or action-heavy titles like Astral Chain and No More Heroes 3, the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller with Lumectra performed excellently.

Also noteworthy is the inclusion of full gyro controls, meaning games like Splatoon 3 are perfectly playable with the gamepad, and it feels just as sharp and responsive as with the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.

Unfortunately, some Switch-centric features have been cut. There’s no HD Rumble or NFC support for amiibo scanning. If you regularly play titles with scannable amiibo bonuses, then, you’ll need to do so on another device first.

In terms of battery life, PowerA claims you’ll get around 20 hours on a full charge. In my own testing, I managed to get roughly 15 hours of juice out of the controller before needing to charge, and this was largely with the Lumectra lighting enabled. With it switched off, you could undoubtedly squeeze a few more hours in here - though you would be sacrificing the controller’s best feature to do so. 

This does fall short of the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller’s extremely impressive 40-50 hours but does fall in line with other third-party Switch gamepads such as the 8BitDo Ultimate and Rainbow 2 Pro.

PowerA Lumectra

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller with Lumectra?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

Want to learn about a broader range of top Nintendo Switch controllers? Consider the following options, which are some of our favorite alternative picks.

How I tested the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller with Lumectra

  • Tested for 20 hours 
  • Tested with Nintendo Switch games and mobile titles
  • Compared with other excellent Nintendo Switch controllers

I ended up testing the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller with Lumectra for a total of around 20 hours. I primarily played many Switch games including Splatoon 3, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and some retro titles via Nintendo Switch Online. While I found it to be an excellent Switch pad, it’s lacking on Android, with noticeable latency occurring on native titles like Honkai Star Rail and various streamed games via Xbox Cloud Gaming.

I tested the Lumectra side by side with some of my favorite Nintendo Switch controllers including the GameSir T4 Kaleid and Rainbow 2 Pro. PowerA’s gamepad stacks up to both in terms of performance and reliability, though I did miss some elements like the GameSir micro switch buttons and the Rainbow 2 Pro’s brilliantly clicky remappable buttons.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed April 2024

GameSir X2s Type-C mobile controller review: retro design, modern performance
6:07 pm | April 5, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming Gaming Accessories | Tags: , | Comments: Off

One-minute review

The GameSir X2s Type-C is a mobile controller that costs less than half the price of the Backbone One or the Razer Kishi V2. Despite this, it still manages to offer a comfortable gaming experience and plug-and-play compatibility with all major game streaming platforms and a wide selection of native mobile titles including Genshin Impact and Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile.

Its retro Nintendo 2DS-inspired aesthetic is charming and, while the plastic used across its construction feels cheap and hollow, the satisfying clicky buttons and Hall effect thumbsticks and triggers are excellent - and features that you'd normally expect to find on some of the best PC controllers. These controls not only feel great but also perform well no matter what kind of game you’re playing. The adjustable Type-C connector is itself a brilliant innovation, greatly reducing the frustration of trying to cram a phone into a retractable mobile controller. It simultaneously ensures compatibility with most phone cases, removing one of my biggest gripes with the Backbone One.

The lack of a headphone jack might be a deal-breaker if you intend to play with a wired pair of any of the best gaming earbuds, for example, but the GameSir X2s Type-C is otherwise an extremely compelling mobile controller that undercuts the competition with a great value price.

GameSir X2s Type-C

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Price and availability

  • $45.99 / £49 / AU$69
  • Cheaper than the competition
  • Widely available

The GameSir X2s Type-C is readily available via Amazon in the US, UK, and Australia for $45.99 / £49 / AU$69. It can also be purchased directly from the GameSir website, in addition to an official store on AliExpress. Although frequent discounts are available at AliExpress, you will have to contend with longer shipping times if you go with that option.

Even at full price, however, the GameSir X2s Type-C comes in considerably cheaper than its competition - namely, the Backbone One, which costs $99.99 / £99.99 / AU$179.99, and the Razer Kishi V2, which is $99.99 / £99.99 / AU$169.95. This positions it firmly as a budget alternative to these two controllers and, while it is lesser when it comes to overall build quality, it nevertheless offers excellent value for money.

Specs

GameSir X2s Type C

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Design and features

According to GameSir, the design of the X2s Type-C mobile controller was inspired by the appearance of the Nintendo 2DS. This is evident in the purple hue of its buttons, which are strikingly similar to buttons found on the White and Lavender Nintendo 2DS XL. Despite these surface-level similarities, however, the GameSir X2s Type-C actually shares a lot in common with most other mobile controllers. 

Firstly, it features a spring-loaded back, which can be extended to accommodate a phone up to 6.6 in / 168 mm tall. While the extension mechanism operates considerably less smoothly than the one found on the Backbone One, producing quite a rough sound, the controller still fits snugly around most phones and feels very secure once everything is in place. As the name would suggest, the controller connects to your phone through a USB Type-C connector, so is only compatible with the iPhone 15 series or Android devices that feature the port. 

GameSir X2s Type C

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

On top of the ability to extend the controller, the GameSir X2s Type-C can accommodate an impressive range of phones thanks to the unique moveable nature of its Type-C connector. Unlike the fiddly, static connector of the Backbone One, the connector here can swivel both towards and away from the rest of the controller. This is a fantastic innovation and something that I believe should now become standard across all mobile controllers given just how much it improves the experience.

The added flexibility makes it far easier to attach or remove your phone safely, completely eliminating the risk of damaging your USB-C port or the controller itself if you pull your device away at an angle. It also means that the controller can be used in conjunction with a thin phone case, which is a welcome change. I find that having to remove my case to attach the Backbone One is inconvenient, leaving my phone exposed to potential damage.

Like the Backbone One, the rest of the GameSir X2s Type-C is effectively just two sides of a traditional controller that flanks your phone. There are asymmetrical thumbsticks, a d-pad, a set of face buttons labeled in the Xbox Wireless Controller layout, a screenshot button, a home button, two triggers, and two shoulder buttons. Rather than the conventional ‘Start’ or ‘Select’ though, each side of the controller has either a ‘G’ or ‘S’ button which performs those same functions.

A set of four thumbstick covers is also included in the box. These can be slipped onto the tips of the thumbsticks to give them a slightly larger surface area and a more tactile ribbed finish. Although I didn’t find the need to use them, it still makes for a neat little pack-in bonus.

You can then further customize the feel of the thumbsticks via the GameSir app, which allows you to tweak a range of settings. This includes thumbstick dead zones, trigger actuation depth, or even a toggle to switch to a Joy-Con controller button layout. In addition to a catalog of other GameSir products, there’s a tab containing a handy list of fully compatible mobile titles, with links to the relevant App Store, which could be a great way to source recommendations if you’re wondering what to play.

A Type-C charging port is located on the bottom of the left-hand side of the controller, allowing you to charge your phone while it’s in use. Two small LED lights are present on the right-hand side too, with one illuminating to show when it is connected to a phone and the other indicating whether your phone is charging. Despite ample space, there’s disappointingly no headphone jack to be seen anywhere.

GameSir X2s Type C

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Performance

When I took the GameSir X2s Type-C out of the box, my first impressions were mixed. There’s no avoiding the fact that the plastic used on this controller simply feels cheap in the hands, especially compared to the likes of the Backbone One or Razer Kishi V2. Sure, these are much more expensive controllers, but the hollow-feeling grips of the GameSir X2s Type-C undeniably detract from the experience. Even the rubberized pads that cover the rear of each grip feel cheap, being far too hard to offer any real cushioning. My model also sported quite a few prominent manufacturing seams that tarnish the otherwise clean purple and gray aesthetic.

Still, once you have a phone slotted into place it’s hard to fault the GameSir X2s Type-C in any other areas. Although the thumbsticks are smaller than a standard gamepad, they offer a generous level of motion and feel substantially more precise than the awkward, stubbier set found on the Backbone One. Likewise, the triggers are a very comfortable size and operate responsively. Better still, both the thumbsticks and the triggers make use of Hall effect technology, which should enable them to last considerably longer without developing dead zones or drift. 

The micro switch buttons are well-spaced and pleasantly tactile, with engraved lettering like the buttons of the Nintendo 2DS. Similar micro switches are then used in the d-pad, which is a comfortable concave shape. The shoulder buttons are then large, responsive, and produce a very satisfying mechanical click. It’s an excellent set of controls, only further elevated by the fact that every single game I tested worked flawlessly with no tweaking. The native mobile version of Vampire Survivors felt just like I was playing on Nintendo Switch, while my K/D ratio in online Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile matches benefited hugely from the pinpoint accurate thumbsticks and triggers.

This strong performance carried over into game streaming. Jumping into some Far Cry 5 and a fair few matches of Fortnite on Amazon Luna, the controller was instantly recognized by the web app, and the correct controller prompts were automatically displayed. Likewise, Xbox Cloud Gaming via Xbox Game Pass Ultimate was a treat with Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Forza Horizon 5, and a handful of other titles playing wonderfully. If you’re searching for a budget-friendly mobile controller that’s perfect for cloud gaming, few perform better than this.

GameSir X2s Type C

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

Should I buy the GameSir X2s Type-C?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If you’ve got a bit more to spend on a mobile controller, here’s how the GameSir X2s Type-C stacks up against two more premium alternatives.

GameSir X2s Type C

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

How I tested the GameSir X2s Type-C

  • Tested for over 15 hours
  • Tested with both native mobile titles and game streaming
  • Compared to other mobile controllers

I used the GameSir X2s Type-C for over 15 hours with a Samsung Galaxy S23+. During that time, I tried a selection of popular native mobile titles including Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile, Vampire Survivors, Diablo Immortal, Minecraft, and Genshin Impact. I then used the controller with multiple game streaming services, including Xbox Cloud Streaming and Amazon Luna which I used to explore a wide variety of available games.

As an avid mobile gamer, I also directly compared my experience with the GameSir X2s Type-C with the Backbone One and Razer Kishi V2 in addition to other mobile controllers.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed April 2024

Astro A50 X review – near-perfect multi-platform audio
8:07 pm | March 19, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming Gaming Accessories | Tags: | Comments: Off

If you have $379.99 / £359 / AU$749.95 to spend on a high-end wireless gaming headset, then the Astro A50 X is a fantastic choice. This is a supremely comfortable peripheral, with a lightweight headband and gorgeous plush ear cups that make it an absolute joy to wear over extended gaming sessions. It also offers by far the best audio quality of any of the wireless gaming headsets that I have ever tested, with rich bass, crystal clear mids, and dazzling high-end frequencies that are a perfect match for almost any game. 

Cinematic adventures like The Last of Us Part 1 and Death Stranding: Directors Cut are elevated by superb clarity and a detailed sound stage, while intense first-person shooters like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 benefit from accurate spatial audio that makes it much easier to track enemy movement. Throw in an excellent microphone that enables you to communicate with friends or teammates clearly with little background noise and this is one seriously compelling package.

Unfortunately, while the use of 24-bit HDMI 2.1 audio does increase the sound quality, it also makes for a complicated setup process that requires multiple extra cables compared to other sets. The lack of active noise cancellation (ANC) is also a let-down at this lofty price point and I found that loud background noises can occasionally bleed through, disrupting the otherwise peerless immersion.

Design and features

The controls of the Astro A50 X.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood/Future)

The Astro A50 X boasts an eye-catching design that feels premium in the hands. It has large, almost square earcups that offer plenty of room for the onboard controls and sport magnetically attached plush cushions that sit snugly around the ears. A flexible rubberized microphone, which can be raised, lowered, and shaped into position, is attached to the left ear cup. The power switch, platform switch button, and Bluetooth connectivity button are then positioned on the back of the right ear cup, above a small volume dial. 

The switches are all well-spaced and pleasantly tactile, while the volume dial has a satisfying notched motion and rubberized finish that lends it a high-end feel. The flat exterior of the right ear cup also functions as one large extra button, offering a handy way to control the balance between game and chat audio.

The headband is very lightweight, constructed from two thin flexible plastic strips that sandwich a small plush cushion. It is connected to each ear cup with robust metal tubes that can be slid up and down in order to adjust the fit. There are markings denoting various headband sizes, making it easy to keep at a consistent size once you’ve managed to find the perfect setting. 

Small metal contacts are present on the bottom of each ear cup, which enables the Astro A50 X to dock into its included base station. This is a convenient storage solution that means the headset can be charged between uses, though the roughly 24-hour battery life means that you're well covered by a full charge. The base station has a good level of heft to it, just weighty enough to avoid slipping around on a surface but not too heavy to reposition easily if needed. It’s also a relatively compact size, with an overall width that’s about equal to the width of the headset itself.

While the front of the base station features a row of LED indicators (including a battery level indicator, a Bluetooth connectivity indicator, and illuminated text denoting your current platform) the rear has three HDMI 2.1 ports and three USB-C ports. These ports are all in service of the headset’s flagship feature: the ability to switch between multiple platforms.

This is accomplished with a quick tap of the headset’s platform switch button, which automatically changes the HDMI output over to your selected platform and seamlessly switches the audio to match. It’s impressively quick and convenient and makes this headset by far one of the easiest to use if you are often alternating between Xbox, PlayStation, and PC on the same display. It is worth bearing in mind that the headset does not feature power control functionality though, so each system needs to be switched on separately first. 

The software of the Astro A50 X.

(Image credit: Logitech)

Like other premium wireless gaming headsets such as the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X, the Astro A50 X features Bluetooth dual connectivity, allowing you to connect your mobile phone and take phone calls or chat via the Discord mobile app while still hearing game audio. It’s also compatible with Logitech G Hub PC software and the Logitech G mobile app that can both be used for firmware updates, alternating between preset equalizer profiles, or fully customizing the equalizer settings to your liking.

Performance

The controls of the Astro A50 X.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood/Future)

Connecting the base station to an Xbox or PlayStation requires at least two HDMI cables and one USB-C cable. The first HDMI cable connects the HDMI output of the console to the HDMI input of the base station, while the second connects the HDMI output of the base station to your gaming monitor or gaming TV. The USB-C cable then provides an additional connection between the base station and the console. You can add a second console to the same video output by hooking up another HDMI cable and a second USB-C cable. Connecting to a PC is then a little simpler, requiring only a USB-C connection which is conveniently attached to the base station’s USB-C power supply cable.

Once I had set the base station up with my Xbox Series S, PS5, and PC there were a grand total of six extra cables running through my desk. The sheer number of cables required makes setup a time-consuming task, especially if you want to make sure that they tidied away neatly. While the two USB-C cables are included in the box, alongside the power lead, the headset does not come with an extra HDMI cable for the video output so you’re either going to need to find a spare or buy one which could be a major annoyance.

It’s also important to note that, while the headset works with any old HDMI 2.0 cable, the newer HDMI 2.1 standard is recommended for the best audio experience, adding another hurdle. Including a single HDMI 2.1 cable in the box would massively reduce the hassle and is definitely not an unreasonable ask given the price.

The Astro A50 X base station.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood/Future)

Once the setup is completed correctly, however, you’re rewarded with incredible audio performance. In-game sound is perfectly balanced, with just the right level of bass to feel suitably punchy but never overpowering. Voices come through impressively clearly and the PS5 3D audio or Dolby Atmos spatial audio lends everything an incredibly cinematic feel - just make sure you enable it through your console settings or via the Dolby Access PC app.

The Astro A50 X also manages to hold its own when used outside of gaming. Every song I tested with the Apple Music app on PS5 sounded brilliant and I found the wireless range of the base station was more than enough to allow me to wear the headset around the house unimpeded. It also performed exceptionally well while watching movies and TV, delivering immersive, rich sound. While it doesn’t sound quite as good as leading dedicated music-listening headphones like the Apple AirPods Max or Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, it’s still easy to recommend the Astro A50 X if you’re an audio enthusiast.

It also feels superb on the head, with the soft ear cups and headband offering an excellent level of support and comfort. Sadly, the lack of active noise cancellation can sometimes negatively impact the overall experience. While the padding largely does an excellent job of blocking out low-level outside noise like console fans or rain, I found that the occasional loud sound like a passing siren would bleed through. It’s by no means a dealbreaker but is still disappointing.

When it comes to microphone performance, the Astro A50 X is almost flawless. Even with loud background noise I found that my voice came through clearly in almost broadcast quality, though the mic does seem to produce a slightly sibilant sound with its out-of-the-box configuration. Luckily, this can be easily adjusted and is unlikely to pose a problem unless you intend to use the headset for streaming or podcasting.

In fact, the only other major issue I encountered was a very occasional screen flickering which saw my display turn black for a split second at very sporadic intervals. I can only assume that it has something to do with the base station, which functions as an HDMI pass-through. Thankfully, the headset received a firmware update during my testing period that seems to have solved the issue for good.

Should I buy the Astro A50 X?

The Astro A50 X in its docking station.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood/Future)

With rich sound and support for Dolby Atmos and 3D audio, the Astro A50 X is a top choice if you want one of the absolute best sounding wireless gaming headsets on the market. The complicated setup process and lack of active noise cancellation are unfortunate given the high asking price, but they’re only small complaints in the face of a headset that performs so well elsewhere. 

 Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if… 

How we tested the Astro A50 X

I used the Astro A50 X as my primary gaming headset for over a month with a PC, Xbox Series S, and PlayStation 5. During that time I played a wide range of games, including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, The Last of Us Part 1, and The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered on PS5. On PC I played lots of matches of Counter-Strike 2 and a few hours of Death Stranding: Directors Cut, plus plenty of time in strategy games like Endless Space 2 and Civilization 6.

On Xbox, I played the opening of Hi-Fi Rush, not to mention a large chunk of Mirror’s Edge and Alice: Madness Returns via backwards compatibility. I was also careful to test the headset’s performance while listening to music via Apple Music on PS5 and YouTube on other platforms, in addition to enjoying the film Prey and the first season of Hazbin Hotel on Prime Video.

For more on gaming audio, see our guides to the best gaming headsets for Call of Duty or the best gaming earbuds.

Hori Fighting Commander Octa for PlayStation 5 review – a solid fighting pad
4:30 pm | March 8, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming Gaming Accessories | Tags: | Comments: Off

If you’re searching for a wired fighting game controller, then the Hori Fighting Commander Octa for PlayStation 5 is a solid choice. Its six face buttons are pleasantly tactile and responsive with an intuitive layout that’s ideal for many of the best fighting games. Even though it takes some getting used to, the D-pad is also a major improvement over the one found on the DualSense Wireless Controller thanks to a concave design that makes it far easier to execute complex inputs.

Unfortunately, the thumbstick holds it back from being one of the best PS5 controllers as it can be quite fiddly as a result of its small size and octagonal gate (an octagon-shaped ring around the base of the thumbstick). While it’s not unusable, those who prefer to play fighting games with a thumbstick would be better served by the PS5’s own controller or even one of the best fight sticks. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that the controller is very lightweight and feels quite cheap and hollow in the hands, which is disappointing given the steep $59.99 / £51.99 / around AU$94.95 price tag.

Design and features

The Hori Fighting Commander Octa for PlayStation 5 on a white surface.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood/Future)

The overall design of the Hori Fighting Commander Octa for PlayStation 5 is an interesting mish-mash of elements from both the DualSense and the PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 controller. It roughly maintains the form factor of the DualSense but is a little wider with shorter grips and a 10ft / 3m non-detachable USB cable sticking out the top. Its buttons and touchpad look more like those found on the DualShock 4, but several key differences set them apart. 

Firstly, the buttons use tactile micro switches that offer incredibly satisfying and tangible input actions. They’re also slightly larger than the buttons of a standard controller, making it a little easier to reposition your fingers quickly. There’s also the matter of the controller’s layout, which follows a typical ‘fighting controller configuration’. This means that R1 and R2 buttons have been repositioned next to the face buttons, allowing for much speedier access to more inputs - something that could be a huge benefit in games that use those inputs to block or trigger special attacks. 

There are still shoulder buttons and basic triggers on the controller, with the left set mapped to R3 and L3 and the right set mapped to L1 and L2. Unlike the face buttons, these shoulder buttons do not use micro switches and feel noticeably mushier. The right thumbstick has been removed entirely, with the additional space now occupied by a large home button, a mic mute button, a function button, and three accompanying status LEDs. The left thumbstick is slightly smaller than that of a DualSense, with a thicker base and an octagonal gate that forces it into one of eight possible directions.

The controller’s D-pad has a concave shape and is clearly intended to be used with your thumb positioned in its center. It’s a significant departure from the design of the DualSense D-pad - which requires you to lift your thumb to hit different directions - and is a dramatic improvement on the whole. Diagonal inputs in particular feel considerably more precise and the ability to roll the tip of your thumb to execute complex directional movements in a single fluid motion is very welcome.

The back of the Hori Fighting Commander Octa for PlayStation 5.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood/Future)

Above the D-pad is the usual create button, alongside a touchpad and the options button. Despite how it looks, it’s worth noting that the touchpad is not touch-sensitive but can still be pressed down like a regular button input. There is also a standard 3.5mm jack for use with a compatible wired gaming headset on the bottom of the controller. If you flip the controller over, you will find two small switches. The first allows you to disable the touchpad, options, and screenshot button. The second lets you alternate between PS5, PS4, and PC compatibility.

Although certain features are unavailable while playing on PC, such as the headphone jack and touchpad button, the controller is compatible with the Hori Device Manager software. This lets you save up to four custom button profiles, which can be alternated through the function button. The software is a bare-bones affair but is easy to use and performs its limited functions well.

Performance

The Hori Fighting Commander Octa for PlayStation 5 being used.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood/Future)

The Hori Fighting Commander Octa for PlayStation 5 is at its absolute best when you’re using the D-pad. It’s reliable and remains very comfortable over extended play sessions, with its concave layout allowing for far smoother motion than the flat D-pad of the DualSense. The responsive face buttons also perform very well and have a low actuation point that helps reduce fatigue after particularly intensive combos. 

Diving into some online matches of Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising, the Hori Fighting Commander Octa for PlayStation 5 almost immediately improved my performance. The positioning of the R1 button next to the face buttons made executing Skill attacks (which require the R1 button to be held) faster and much more comfortable. Its precise micro switches also helped prevent the more frantic button mashing encouraged by the spongier DualSense buttons. It took a few moments to loosen up, but the D-pad also felt much less sharp on the tip of my thumb.

Unfortunately, the controller’s weaknesses became much more apparent when I switched over to using the thumbstick. It largely functions adequately but I found that I occasionally missed diagonal inputs thanks to the octagonal gate, which caused me to skirt over corners while attempting a full rotation. Octagonal gates might be a popular choice on many fight sticks, but their inclusion on a small thumbstick seems poorly judged. 

The controller’s overall shape can also be an inconvenience depending on your playstyle. If you’re going to be using this controller with the popular ‘claw grip’, then the large right-hand grip makes it difficult to position on a table or rest on your leg.

There’s also the matter of its build. I didn’t experience any issues with the quality of the controller during my testing, but it just feels incredibly cheap in the hands. It's eerily light, coming in at roughly 4.2oz / 120g, and feels very hollow too, leaving me a little wary of gripping it with too much force during more intense moments. Wired controllers are often on the lighter side, but it’s not unreasonable to expect a product that costs just $10 / £8 shy of the DualSense to feel more substantial.

Should I buy the Hori Fighting Commander Octa for PlayStation 5?

The front of Hori Fighting Commander Octa for PlayStation 5.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood/Future)

If you’re a fighting game player who often uses the D-pad, then the Hori Fighting Commander Octa for PlayStation 5 is a solid choice. Although the cheap feeling build is a letdown, compared to the DualSense it offers a better D-pad, a more convenient layout, and far superior micro switch buttons. Those who prefer to play using a thumbstick, however, should consider other options.

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

How we reviewed the Hori Fighting Commander Octa for PlayStation 5

I used the Hori Fighting Commander Octa for PlayStation 5 as my main fighting game controller for well over a month. During that time, I played numerous matches of the excellent Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising in addition to a fair amount of Mortal Kombat 1 and a little Dead or Alive 5 Last Round. In addition to PS5, I I tested the controller on PC and made sure to experiment with the compatible Hori Device Manager software to test all of its features and functionality.

For more on fighting games, check out our Tekken 8 review or learn why you should start with Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising if you want to get into the genre.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X review – a seriously impressive multi-platform wireless gaming headset
4:07 pm | February 21, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming Gaming Accessories | Comments: Off

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X takes the already excellent SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7P and introduces additional compatibility with Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and Xbox One consoles through a new ‘Xbox’ switch on its wireless dongle. As a result, this is an absolutely superb mid-range wireless gaming headset that, despite the prominent ‘Designed for Xbox’ branding, still performs extremely well across a wide range of other platforms.

Available for $179.99 / £174.99 / around AU$305, the headset itself feels highly premium, with a sturdy metal top cover and soft memory foam ear cups that keep it comfortable to wear over extended gaming sessions. Its more neutral sound profile is also a pleasant departure from some of the tuning of wireless gaming headsets on the market, making for a reliable all-round performer that delivers quality audio for gaming and beyond.

A convenient retractable microphone with a visible LED mute indicator further elevates the package. Though it can be slightly tricky to position due to its flexible shape, the mic provides more than enough clarity to have you chatting with friends or making vital callouts in some of the best first-person shooter (FPS) titles with ease. Although our testing revealed that the recording quality can suffer when you’re using the Simultaneous Wireless feature, it’s only a minor complaint when the rest of the offering is so compelling.

Design and features

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X Wireless on a wooden surface.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood/Future)

The most significant area where the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X differentiates itself from the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7P is in its altered USB-C wireless dongle. On top of the usual status LED and pairing button, the dongle now features a wireless mode switch that enables Xbox compatibility. While the wireless dongle can be plugged directly into a PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, or PC via a free USB-C port, the package also includes a USB-A to USB-C converter. Although it’s a little more cumbersome to use, this converter is a handy pack-in when the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S lack any USB-C ports of their own.

The design of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X headset is pleasantly understated but still very stylish. Its top is made of soft rubber and covered with a sturdy metal layer that feels very solid in the hands but is, importantly, still quite lightweight. The soft elastic headband is easily adjustable, as are the earcups which can be easily extended by a few centimeters for a more snug fit.

Its left earcup features a retractable microphone, fashioned from a flexible wire, in addition to a volume dial, a pleasantly clicky mic mute button, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. A bright red LED mute indicator is present on the end of the mic, which is always a welcome quality-of-life addition. The right earcup then features a power switch and a Bluetooth connection button, both with small indicator LEDs, in addition to the ChatMix Dial (which decreases game volume while increasing chat volume or vice versa) and a USB-C port for charging.

Pairing a Bluetooth device like your mobile phone automatically enables the Simultaneous Wireless mode, which allows you to hear audio from two sources at the same time. This is ideal if you enjoy listening to music while you game or prefer using chat services like the Discord app. However, I did notice a drop in microphone quality while it was in use.

The headset is offered in two colorways, a plain white paired with a black headband or a basic black with a more eye-catching Xbox-themed green headband. The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X is compatible with any Nova Booster Pack. These accessories are sold separately for $34.99 / £29.99 / around AU$50 and contain an alternate headband and two speaker plates to further customize the look of your headset if desired.

Performance

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X Wireless lying flat on a wooden table.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood/Future)

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X has an unusually neutral sound profile for a gaming headset. This means that it can deliver clear and accurate audio that’s ideal for a wide range of genres, but lacks the specialist tuning that you would find in some alternatives like the Fnatic React Plus, which has been tweaked specifically for the best FPS games with decreased bass and more emphasized mids. 

Luckily, you can freely edit the sound profile to your liking in the compatible SteelSeries GG software, alongside other useful settings like LED brightness and mic sidetone levels, but it’s worth bearing in mind that this can only be accomplished on PC. While your saved settings will carry over to other platforms, the lack of native console software, or even a compatible mobile app, may prove a source of frustration if you don’t have easy access to a computer.

The software of the Arctis Nova 7X Wireless.

(Image credit: SteelSeries)

Even so, the default sound profile will be suitable for most uses and even holds its own when you’re listening to music or watching movies. I often use my PS5 as a media center thanks to its convenient Blu-Ray player and found the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X to be a perfectly enjoyable way to experience audio-heavy films like 2021’s Belle, in addition to my usual Apple Music playlists. The bass is a little weaker than some music-listening headphones like the popular Beats Solo Pro, but a good level of clarity in the mids and high-end more than compensates for it.

Although the headset doesn't feature any active noise cancellation, the earcups also proved to be a formidable barrier that prevented everything short of the loudest background noises from bleeding in. Add in the fact that I was easily able to achieve well over 35 hours of continuous playback on each charge, and you’ve got a headset that’ll go the distance for longer gaming sessions.

Microphone quality also fairs well across the board. While it’s not quite as excellent as the exceptionally clear sound from a headset like the HyperX Cloud 3, it’s very much enough to chat with friends provided that you spend a few moments adjusting the mic into the correct position.

Unfortunately, the recording quality is much less impressive when talking through the Simultaneous Wireless mode. Your mileage may vary but, with a quieter, more muffled sound, I found that it was a noticeable step down from the strong performance with the mode disabled.

Should I buy the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X?

The microphone of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X Wireless headset.

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood/Future)

Compatible with Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and PC, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X is a serious contender if you’re after one of the best wireless gaming headsets for multi-platform use. Its neutral sound profile is perfect for a wide range of titles and an enjoyable way to experience some movies and music on the side, while the attractive design looks pleasantly understated and feels premium.

Buy it if…

Don't buy it if…

How we reviewed the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X

I used the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X as my primary gaming headset for over three weeks, playing a wide range of games on a variety platforms. On PC, I mainly enjoyed high-intensity FPS titles like Counter Strike 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Over on PS5, I dived into another playthrough of the RPG Elex 2 and tested its multimedia capabilities with a range of movies and songs. 

To assess the Xbox compatibility, I used the headset with an Xbox Series S console and played a range of popular titles including Fortnite and Starfield. I also used the headset with a Nintendo Switch OLED, where I enjoyed a few more hours of Splatoon 3 and Super Mario Bros. Wonder.

For some more headset recommendations, see our guide to the best Xbox Series X headsets or the best gaming headsets for Call of Duty. 

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