Logitech Cordless Precision Controller
Release Date: July, 2004
Wireless controllers are not new. Sure, Nintendo’s WaveBird paved the way for RF enabled pads and peripherals, but gaming without a cord is something that’s been around since the 8-bit days. Of course, those old-school wireless controllers were based on line-of-sight infrared technology, like most remotes, which more often than not results in communication between the controller and the receiver dropping out right as your 2D sprite-based character attempts a jump over a life-consuming chasm – the receiver would often misinterpret your button presses, too. It was bad. Luckily, we live in a time when inferior technology is a long forgotten myth and creative new solutions are always only a day away. Enter the Logitech Cordless Precision Controller for the Xbox. It utilizes all the features you’d expect in any decent wireless solution – RF, streamlined power management, frequency hopping – but it also features the comfortable build design of a first party pad and surprisingly powerful vibration feedback to boot.
Logitech’s first stab at wireless controllers was a decent effort, there really wasn’t much bad that could be said about it. But the new Cordless Precision is even better. Unlike the previous pad, which required four AA batteries, this controller is able to achieve the same 40-50 hours of life on half the number of AA cells. Twice that with the rumble feature turned off. And that’s not just marketing stats, either – we can personally confirm that those lofty claims are accurate. Even better, the new Precision pad features a more contoured, comfortable design akin to the ever-popular Controller S. Most surprising: this new rev is around half the price of the original pad. Forty bucks. Huzzah!
There is one similarity the new Precision pad shares with Logitech’s first wireless Xbox pad, however. Like, you’ll still be tethered to your ‘Box when gaming online thanks to the two memory slots being attached to the receivers impotent 20inch cord. Online gamers will certainly not be happy about that. Since I live in Montana (not for long) this isn’t much of an issue for me, as broadband is as exiguous as water in the desert. But I imagine there are a few people who actually utilize the Xbox Live functions of their Xbox.
In terms of shell design and button layout, the Precision pad is a huge improvement over its predecessor. It’s not perfect, but really, outside of Sony’s alien technology DualShock design, what is? Today’s games demand complex input devices with more buttons and functions than 10 NES pads combined. So making sure your controller is not only functionality than ever before. Comfortable AND functional is a pretty tall order, as demonstrated by countless sub-20$ pads since the dawn of time. Luckily, holding the Precision pad is a delight – DualShock caliber, in fact. The handles are considerably longer than Microsoft’s S, giving players a nice sturdy grip on the thing. The button layout is nearly identical to the Controller S and the tactile response is quick and snappy, emitting a satisfying click when depressed.
The only real problems with the Precision pad’s button design are its triggers and the black and white buttons. The triggers are pushed out quite far on the pad, requiring that you use the tips of your fingers to pull them in, and the distance the trigger travels from untouched to completely depressed is about half the length of standard pads, resulting in overly sensitive input for trigger functions (racing fans, take heed). The black and white buttons, which are placed annoying close to the standard face buttons, are nearly flush with the casing and lack the face button’s aural emission. As a result, you’ll often times be unsure of whether the black or white button press actually registered. In practice this really isn’t much of a problem, as on-screen indicators are far more valuable than audible ones, but compared to the nice, solid face buttons the black and white ones just seem a little chintzy.
And now comes the D-pad, the one aspect of any pad that I deem most important because of my old-school lineage, despite the fact that it’s rarely ever used for much of anything in today’s games outside of menu selections. But still, I mean, there is still the Street Fighter II equation, which demands a good D-pad, and an assortment of other 2D fighters that rely on the D-pad as well, and … well, a good D-pad is just important to me, ok? A bad D-pad infuriates me to no end. Like, remember the Sidewinder? Oh God. Please. Or, how about this, remember every single game pad ever made that isn’t a Nintendo controller or a DualShock? Yah. Stupid D-pads should die a horrible death. You feel me? No. Seriously. Do you? Cause, I’m sort of in the process of cementing some foundational truths about communication. I digress.
The D-pad on the Precision pad is, well, it’s not great. But – oh, oh! Off the subject. How about that D-pad on the PSP, huh? Sony better seriously loosen up that thing before it hits market, right? When I putzed around with it the D-pad seemed super tight, in a bad way, like it required jackhammer-like pressure to push in. …. Just weird I haven’t heard anything about that. I digress, again.
Yah, the D-pad on the Precision pad is just the opposite of the PSP; it’s too smudgy and loose. Luckily, Logitech went with the cross-in-circle design, as all D-pads should, (remember the Wendy’s hamburger patty style Master System D-pad? – hehe) but the big D-pad button sticks out alarmingly far on the pad, giving the impression that it could break off in the middle of a hurricane kick. But it’s functional, and I was able to pull off my patented 20-Dragon Punch combo with it, so I can’t complain too much. There’s also a slight indentation on the D-pad to prevent accidental slippage, which is nice. The analog sticks are pretty much business as usual, though they lack the indentation of the Controller S sticks. But they are grippy and responsive and I have nothing but good things to say about them – they’re rubbery goodness and microscopically ribbed for your pleasure.
Overall, I plan on using my Precision pad for many months to come, or at least until Xbox Live is a reality for me. It’s a well-built controller that features a comfortable design and impressive functionality. 2.4ghz of RF lovin’ ensures you’ll be able to bounce off walls with ease in Ninja Gaiden from up to 30ft away, and dual rotor vibration feedback ensures you’ll have multiples if you stick it in your pants while playing Project Gotham 2. But again, online gamers are pretty much SoL if they intend to utilize voice function.