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Thursday, April 18, 2013

dreamGEAR Phenom PS3 controller

Ever since I hurt my hands using the PS3 Dualshock 3 controller for extended periods, I've been on a (desperate) quest for a DECENT third party PS3 controller that is COMFORTABLE. When I saw the dreamGEAR Phenom PS3 controller on sale at the Futureshop website, I took a bite. There's not that much choice for third party PS3 controllers out there.

The package includes the controller, 2.4GHz USB dongle (the controller is not bluetooth), and a USB charging cable that is slightly longer than the one included with the PS3 console.The controller can be used while connected to the cable during charging.

The dongle sticks out of the PS3 USB port, and obviously while using it, it occupies one of the only 2 available ports. There is a red light on the end of the dongle that flashes if there's no controller connection or stays solid red when connected. Having a dongle jutting out of the front of PS3 is a little bit ugly, but it may not be a huge deal. What is more of a big deal is that because it's not bluetooth, the controller can't turn on the PS3 like the Dualshock 3 can. But it can turn off the PS3. And when the dongle is plugged in, the controller ALWAYS takes controller 1 slot, even if it's not used. Sometimes a bit annoying.

The dreamGEAR (yes that's how they spell their company name) Phenom PS3 controller uses Immersion technology (aren't they the company that sued Sony?) for rumble, but the controller is missing "six-axis" motion sensors. I don't know of many PS3 games that use six-axis, but it's definitely worth noting.

The controller is bigger than the Dualshock 3, but it feels more comfortable in the hands. I don't have large hands, but it fits very well even in my small little mitts. However, it could be a bit big for little kids, as I've had that problem with my Xbox controllers. Speaking of Xbox controllers, yeah, it looks a lot like one, doesn't it? But make no mistake, this is no clone. It's not as ergonomic as my Xbox controller S.

 But it does feel good to hold. The controller (and oddly enough, dongle) is coated with an almost rubbery surface, it feels really good; grippy without being too sticky. The analogue sticks are stiffer and more clicky when you press them in, again, boils down to personal preference but I find the Dualshock 3 analogue clicks (L3+R3) a bit too easily.

 The shoulder buttons have a really good placement, the L2 +R2 stick out more and are more responsive than the Dualshock's triggers.

I've read accounts of people complaining about dead zones in the analogue sticks. I personally like the sensitivity of them myself. I find the Dualshock 3 analogues to be jittery sensitive. So that might boil down to personal preference. The D-pad is ok. I don't think it's quite as good as the Dualshock 3? But very close, maybe.

Even though it might look like it, the buttons don't light up or anything. Just the controller number at the bottom.

But there are some major flaws in this controller. The buttons are all clicky and not as smooth as the Dualshock 3, but the face buttons are the worst-- the X and O buttons on my controller stick; sometimes they stay down, pressed in after pressing them. Very bad. I don't know if it's just my controller or a general build quality issue. Futureshop only sells this controller online, so it's not as easy to get an exchange.

Unfortunately, I will be returning it to the store. The stuck face buttons are too much of an impediment, I've been trying to play it some more but the stuck buttons issue is not going to go away.

A real shame as it feels much better than the Dualshock 3, especially when using four fingers for the shoulder buttons.

My quest for a better PS3 controller goes on.


1 comment:

Dave Kozachuk said...

Hi Dan,

I work for the company that distributes DreamGEAR for Futureshop and I did a bit of checking with the manufacturer. This is not a normal issue with the Phenom controller and you have a rare defective :( . Please return your defective and try a new one. Personally I use this controller for my PS3 and I like it better than 1st party (as an Xbox fan).