SteelSeries Free Review
Sean Gibson / Jan 2nd, 2013 No Comments
The SteelSeries Free is a Bluetooth wireless gaming controller meant to be a mobile and high-compatible solution for mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and Android phones/tablets. The mobile game controller is also compatible with PC/Windows and Mac OSX for a highly compatible unit that is beginning to see in-game adoption for all platforms. The SteelSeries Free charges via an included USB cable and the unit’s mini-USB port, with charges lasting approximately twelve hours, according to our trial runs. As tested with both an iPhone 5 and fourth generation iPad, the SteelSeries Free is a wonderful gaming peripheral that performs amazingly well.
Fortunately, thanks to the Bluetooth standing, installing the unit is extremely easy. Gamers will want to charge the unit for about three to four hours before first use via the included USB cable that will plug into any computer’s standard USB 2.0 port. Once that’s completed, simply follow the instructions inside the manual and the entire process will be done in about two to three minutes. The iPad and iPhone 5 both found the unit within seconds and connecting it up simply “happened” making for an easy and quick installation process, just the way it should be.
Sure, the unit is extremely small, but that’s the idea for a highly mobile and lightweight gaming controller. The unit is 2.2″ high and 4.3″ wide while weighing in at a paltry 54 grams. Despite the SteelSeries Free’s smaller-than-usual form factor, it fits incredibly well in an adult’s hands and has all the feel and comfort of an Xbox 360 controller. There are bumpers at the top, a d-pad on the left, two controller sticks in the middle and four buttons on the right. Due to the fact that the SteelSeries Free is so light and comfortable, it’s easy to play long sessions without ever getting uncomfortable.
There are only certain games using iOS devices that support the SteelSeries Free device, which are listed on their official website. Some familiar games include Temple Run, Pac-Man, Warblade HD and dozens more. Since the SteelSeries Free represents an emerging technology and game developers are just getting their hands on the device, most games don’t support it just yet. With time, that’s definitely going to change because when gamers do get the opportunity to use the controller, they’re sure to be instantly won over. Playing any of the games that support the SteelSeries Free with the unit served as nothing short of a gaming revelation, giving users the innate sense that this is the way it always should have been with the iPad specifically. Nothing short of reporting back that “yes, it’s legit” will suffice since that’s the inevitable question that gamers will ask. It looks, feels and performs like an Xbox 360 or PS3 controller with the build quality on par with those established brands.
[adsense250itp]If there’s one point that gamers might balk on with the SteelSeries Free, it’s the price. Right now the unit is running for $79.99 at the SteelSeries website or for a few bucks more on Amazon. Most gamers are used to game controllers running $35-$40 so this unit represents double the price. However, paying a premium for the uniqueness of the SteelSeries Free given that it’s lightweight, highly mobile and performs excellently in games is a factor that most gamers can live with. However, $80 is a lot to ask of gamers for a unit that isn’t supported by most iOS and Android games. Considering that gamers typically have multiple gaming platforms (iPad + PC for example) and that the SteelSeries Free can work on both, there’s a lot of usage that the unit can give. When it comes to overall value, the unit might be overpriced for the near-term, but if there’s a small reduction in price but widespread adoption in games (which is likely in the next 6 months) that value will surely increase significantly.
When it comes to design, weight and performance, the SteelSeries Free represents a new era in gaming technology. This unit truly is the answer to most gamers’ wish for a true gaming controller for your iOS and Android devices. In tests as played on an iPhone 5 and 4th-gen iPad, the SteelSeries Free was extremely easy to install and lasted plenty for a ton of gaming fun. The current downsides to the product are a relatively high price tag and a list of supported games that is currently somewhat lacking. Gamers that are looking for a wow-factor peripheral for your mobile gaming device that don’t mind paying a premium will do well investing in this device with realistic hopes that it’ll become an industry standard in 2013.
tags: android , bluetooth , controller , ios , mobile , review , steelseries