The iControlPad is a Bluetooth controller that attaches onto your Android device to give you a full set of gaming controls. In the world of controls for Android, there isn’t a whole lot to choose from. You have the Zeemote, iControlPad and the GameGripper. You also have apps to use other controls with like the WiiMote or PS3 controller.
The iControlPad is probably right now the only premium priced bluetooth gaming pad out there. It’s easy to see why with the iControlPad’s look, feel and usability. During this review I’ll look at everything from quality of fittings to ease of use. First off we’ll get stuck into the quality.
- Digital D-pad, 2 analog nubs, 6 face buttons and 2 rear buttons.
- Tight fitting side clamp system.
- Multiple Bluetooth protocols supported.
- Internal 1350maH Battery.
- Upgradable Firmware so new features can be added.
Quality: On looks alone, the iControlPad looks the part and performs well most of the time. I do have a small problem with the quality of the cushioning behind the buttons of the D-pad controls; left and right are very loose, it takes a while to get use to how hard you have to press them. Unfortunately that isn’t the only place you’ll find this. Around the back you have two more buttons, which one button is a tight fit but the other is very loose and rattles at the slightest movement.
Now you may be asking yourself why am I talking about this in detail so much, it’s nothing as long as it works. Well if your one of those people thinking that then let me explain. The iControlPad had a crazy price tag and the seller doesn’t include V.A.T or shipping so the website may say $76 or £47 but with tax and so on, your talking almost $102 or £63 plus. For that kind of price I expect everything to be tight fitting and not to have any issues with quality at all. Everything else featured on the iControlPad is really high quality and feels crisp and clean cut.
Elsewhere with the iControlPad, it has nice tight fitting clamps that hold your phone very tightly, almost too tightly as the locks on the back have to be forced shut for me. Again it’s debatable whether it’s a bad thing or not. Personally I don’t think it is as I’d like to know my phone is securely held and not at risk of falling out. On the issue of clamps, it’s super tight on my 3.7 inch screen so anything bigger may be a problem. The seller has stated he is working out different size clamps for different phones so in the near future this wont be an issue at all.
Usability: When it comes time to set up the iControlPad, it’s not very well explained in the booklet on how to set it up at first, and beware it connects with HID drivers so double check your phone is compatible that before you consider this. The iControlPad features 7 profiles which can be changed by holding a specific button combination on power-up. So far with Android, I found the best profile for now is the basic keyboard mode as support for other features aren’t supported with any apps or games as of yet. After connecting it up to my phone, I found it works with every emulator that supports programmable hardware keys, which is practically all of them.
When it comes to using the iControlPad, it’s comfortable to use until you remember you have 2 buttons around the back that are in the most awkward place in the universe. They are placed just about an inch out of your comfort zone, and right into the “my fingers going to snap” zone. Also, so far the 2 analogue nubs don’t work as they’re not supported yet by any emulator or game to my knowledge. Playing games really is easier with the iControlPad even with the annoyances and I really enjoy have the extra space to see the screen too. No more playing emulators at crazy angles to see around my fingers on the screen.
Portability: Well I’ve had and used the iControlPad for 6 days straight. I’ve took it everywhere, from the town center to my friends house, because I just had to show it off. I wouldn’t say it’s been a struggle but it’s also not a walk in the park. With it all hooked up, it will double the width of your phone and add a centimeter to your length (insert pun here). With all the parts together, I found it hard to get it into any pockets in any of my clothes. It’s not really an issue as you can detach the clamps and fit them all nicely in your pocket. It’s also very light so you don’t have to worry about weighed down by it at all. Also a point I’d like to make, it’s advertised as being able to recharge your phone on the go too. There is only 1 slot for charging it and nothing else, so that’s a thumbs down from me.
Overall: After purchasing this myself, I see it as more of an investment because although it’s only use right now is to play emulators, the firmware is upgradable and development kits are being sent out so in the future we could see many games supporting this piece of kit. Even if it isn’t going to be supported fully and only really works with emulators, this is by far the most polished and complete Bluetooth game pad I’ve seen. Even with the steep price tag, it’s something that will stay with you as phones come and go. At the end of the day it’s up to you if you deem this product to be worthy, personally I’m glad I made the purchase.
Even if your not too happy with the function of it and the support on android, it also works with your personal computer. As an after thought, if you own an HTC phone that has the signature protruding chin, you’ll notice in 1 of the pictures I had to unscrew it slightly to make sure the clamp could fully lock. Not a great thing to see, hope it gets sorted as the plans for multiple clamps are in the works.
Rating: 3.5/5 (4/5 if it gets supported by Android games and not just emulators).