Hardware

4Gamers Wireless Xbox controller

Sam finds trouble where wires aren't...

Of all the rumours and conjecture bouncing around the internet concerning the specifications of the Xbox 2, the one in relation to wireless controllers seems the most plausible. The whole entertainment world is going wireless mad, so it makes sense that Microsoft would like to ditch the wires from the controllers. After the innovative quick release plugs which must have saved many an xbox from a humiliating demise, getting totally shot of those hazardous trailing wires is the next logical step. Of course, you don't have to wait until the next Xbox makes its appearance to enjoy the freedom of a wireless controller. Many 3rd party companies have released their own free-roaming controllers, with the offering from relative new-comers 4-Gamers being the first to fall under the Ferrago spotlight.

At first glimpse, you could be forgiven for thinking this is an official Microsoft controller. Its shape is almost completely identical to the S-controller, with only a tiny divergence in the arc of the curve at the bottom of the controller and the flat base at its back marking the visual distinctions between the two devices. The 4-Gamers controller is also covered in a soft plastic coating. This is both highly resistant to sweat-induced slippages whilst being greedy in its collection of discolouring perspiration marks. These marks do rub off quite easily, but it's unfortunate that they occur in the first place as they spoil the device's otherwise exemplary aesthetics. The receiving station - which also houses the memory card slots - is very nicely designed. Using the curvy X-shape that was so noticeable in the original huge controllers as inspiration, the compact and attractively designed receiving station looks right at home sitting beside the console. It's just a shame that there's no clear version to match my Crystal Xbox. Still, the matt coating on the controller really looks quite smart: until you subject it to a long play session that is.

Which is something that you are very unlikely to do more than once. This controller has a serious flaw which makes it a next-to-useless purchase. To put it simply, it doesn't work. The wireless connectivity is terminally flawed. It took me a little while to notice it, and a little longer to confirm it, but every so often a button press wouldn't register with the Xbox. I tried switching the channels on the controller, turning off all superfluous equipment underneath my TV, turning off the cordless house phone, banishing all mobiles and even turning off my computer with its Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. Even with getting my living room to be as sterile from radio interference as I could manage the 4-Gamer's controller still insisted on occasionally missing a beat. While it's possible that I was getting interference from somewhere else in my apartment building, the fact remains that this controller is unable to deliver on the wireless connectivity that is its sole reason for existence.

Which is a real shame, as the rest of the controller is really rather good. Okay, so the base relief of the main buttons digs into the flesh of the thumb uncomfortably and the repositioning of the start button to the centre of the controller is unwelcome, but apart from these issues it's only the broken wireless that makes me despair for the product. While playing a game like KOTOR 2 I was happy enough to put up with the occasional missed command, but for games like DoA Ultimate or Ghost Recon 2, or frankly any game that requires precise timing and speed, the 4-Gamers controller is next to useless. If the wireless worked it would score in the high eighties. As it stands it can barley muster a 4Gamers Wireless Xbox controller

25%

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