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E3 Impressions: Power A

2:08 PM, Jul 9, 2011   |    comments
Power A-brand gamepads for Xbox 360 and PS3.
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Power A this year had accessories for every system and handheld it seemed, minus the PSP. I was told they're even looking at the PlayStation Vita and to make products for that. When looking at their line-up, it's interesting to note they generally strive to make their products officially licensed when possible.

Power Case for Nintendo 3DS (Fall 2011 $29.99):

Nyko has beat all other companies out of the gate with their own Nintendo 3DS battery solution. A fact that wasn't lost on Power A. To answer back, they've come up with the Power Case. The first thing I noticed was that it is a full case and not just a battery aid. When holding it in my hand, it didn't make the system feel cumbersome as I thought it might at first glance. It does add a bit of weight however, something to keep in mind when looking at your choices.

The main issue I feel Power A nailed with this is the fact the battery is in addition to the included one in the system. This makes it so anyone who purchases this will not have to take off the battery case at all. Instead, a small dongle where the charging port is located is inserted and the case is slipped on around the bottom. Included is a rechargeable lithium polymer battery, which they claim will double playtime. To charge it, there's another port near the stylus storage where your charger may plug into. The other half of the case slips on the top, making it two different pieces instead of one whole. When removing each piece, it was quick and easy. No part felt flimsy, even when I removed each piece to examine and feel them.

I'll be extremely interested to see how long the battery life is. With the claim of double the playtime and the fact it's easy to remove and feels nice in the hands, it might be a great alternative to Nyko's solution.

Pro Pack Mini Plus for Wii (Fall 2011 $39.99):

Power A is looking to improve on their Pro Pack Mini with the introduction of the Pro Pack Mini Plus. They've included a few new features to justify the new pack. The controller now touts built-in LEDs which the user can pick between seven colors. It also includes their own version of Motion Plus, which apparently was a feature high in demand. The biggest change however is the fact they now take AA batteries instead of AAA. They've had to increase the size slightly to do this however, but it didn't effect the way it felt in the hand.

These new controllers are slated to be released sometime in the fall this year. They'll be available in black, blue, and green.

Speaker Dock for Nintendo 3DS (Fall 2011 $29.99):

The Speaker Dock for Nintendo 3DS was one of those questionable accessories at first glance. I wasn't sure that it would serve a useful purpose, until I examined it. The dock has speakers below where you set your Nintendo 3DS. There's also a cord to plug into the headphone jack of the system. Unfortunately this wasn't a working model, but a mock up for show, so I wasn't able to hear how it sounded. Below the rounded area for the speakers is a compartment to store your games. It came out easily enough and was pushed back in without having to use much force.

Perhaps the most useful feature is the actual dock. It acts as a pass-through for your 3DS charger, allowing your system to be charged as it sits. This coupled with the speakers may make Netflix viewing, when it becomes available, a hands-free experience.

The Speaker Dock for Nintendo 3DS actually looks quite interesting. Aside from the obvious usages, it may provide a similar experience to the Nintendo DS stand by Hori.

Air Flo Controllers (Fall 2011 | PS3 $34.99, 360 $39.99):

During long gaming sessions, your hands may get sweaty. To help alleviate the moisture problem, Power A will be putting out Air Flo Controller. There will be two versions, one for PlayStation 3 and the other Xbox 360. Both versions have the analog sticks situated similar to the official Xbox 360 controller. The stick on the left is located above the D-pad, while the right stick is directly across. The real differences besides aesthetics were the triggers. On the 360 version, they kept the thinner trigger as seen on the official controller. The PS3 version also maintains the near official feel with the flatter triggers seen on the DualShock 3 controllers.

When I placed the controller in my hand, right away I noticed the air flowing through the unit. It was quite a nice breeze for the palm of my hand. The unit has a 2-speed cooling which circulates up to 3.4 cubic feet of air per minute. Due to the power it requires to have fans built into the unit, both versions of the controller are wired. After the initial feel, I looked at the controller to see that the vents and buttons lit up. They didn't seem so bright that in a dark room it would blind.

The feel of the controller overall is decent. It doesn't feel heavy, but it does have some weight to it. The buttons are also situated appropriately to my own personal liking.

If you're looking for cooler hands while playing, you may want to check out the Air Flo Controllers. The build quality on each is decent and the actual air flowing through is more than enough to cool your hands during hours of gameplay.

Batarang Controller (Fall 2011 PS3 (Wireless) $49.99, 360  $49.99):

For the release of Batman Arkham City comes the Batarang Controllers officially licensed controllers by Warner Bros. Two versions are being made, one for PS3 and one for 360. There are a few differences of note, such as the fact the PS3 version is wireless, while the 360 controller is not. The buttons in the center middle are also. If you look at the 360 version, you'll notice the Start and Select array is arranged to form the Batman logo. On the PS3 version, the logo is merely there for show with LEDs to either side of the wings.

Although both versions do have differences, they both have the same basic button and analog stick setup as seen on the Air Flo Controllers. They also have seven built-in LED colors, to allow for customization. For fans of rumble, they also house dual rumble motors. Besides the LED lights however, perhaps the most striking feature is the paint job. Power A tried their best to get the colors to match up with Batman in Arkham City and the previous game, Arkham Asylum.

These felt great in the hands. I wasn't sure that they would be considering the Batarang shape they both have in the middle. When I played a bit of Arkham Asylum on the TV they had setup, I moved the Dark Knight around quite naturally. The sticks had great 360* motion and the triggers on both versions felt natural. The only questionable part on the controllers are the D-pads. I'm not sure if they'll perform diagonals as easily as other D-pads, an issue with many Xbox 360 controllers.

Aside from the minor D-pad quandary, I think the Batarang Controllers for PS3 & Xbox 360 are looking to be a good fit for Batman fans. If you aren't a fan however, there isn't much here that another controller can't provide.

Mini Pro EX Controller (360) Fall 2011 $29.99 | Mini Pro Elite Wireless (PS3) Fall 2011 $39.99:

Although many people are satisfied with their 1st party controllers this generation, there's always room for improvement. With the Mini Pro Ex & Mini Pro Elite Wireless, Power A has shrunk the controller to more easily fit in the hands. Once again present is the same button and stick layout from their previous controllers that follow the Xbox 360 school of thought for both versions. The difference here is the size.

Once you get this into your hands, you notice right away how truly smaller it is. When I switched from the Batarang Controllers to these, I was shocked as to how much better this felt in my hand. That's not to say the other controllers had a bad feel, but with my smaller hands, this felt perfect in the palm of my hand. It also felt lighter when compared to other controllers, which is a good thing for marathon gaming.Both versions felt quite similar and have LEDs in them to make the buttons and shoulder bumpers glow. Also present in both are dual rumble motors.

The Mini Pro Ex, it's officially licensed for Xbox 360 and has a cord attached to it. If you're worried about tripping, it does have a break-away cable so you won't be yanking your system from it's spot. It also has the standard chat-headset port so that you can plug in your headset while chatting on Xbox Live. To go with the whole Xbox theme, the controller is an iridescent green, which gives it a unique look from others.

With the Mini Pro Elite Wireless, it is wireless as the name implies. It comes with a USB Receiver and a USB charging cable. Inside is a built-in rechargeable battery, though I couldn't find what type it is. Motion sensing tech is also present internally that works with SIXAXIS games. The color scheme on this controller seems to follow the PS2 colors than PS3 with a light blue. Although it doesn't seem to fall in line with the PS3 theme, it looks good in person.

Overall, this was my favorite PS3/360 flavor controller Power A showed to me. I even wish it could be wireless for the Xbox 360. If you can look past the wires however or just want one for your PS3, the Mini Pro EX is wonderful for small hands and more comfort.

- Andrea Camption,


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