Logitech Cordless Precision Controller (Xbox)
Logitech's first stab at wireless controllers for the Xbox resulted in a clunky design that cost a small fortune, but its newer Cordless Precision Controller changes all that. It's sleeker--almost like a wireless version of Microsoft's Controller S--and despite being significantly cheaper ($49 list), it has excellent build quality.
The controller uses the same basic layout as the Controller S, with twin analog thumbsticks, a digital directional pad below the left thumbstick, and four colored buttons arranged in a cross. The black and white buttons, the Back button, and the Start button are also right where Controller S users would expect to find them, but transitioning to this unit takes a little practice. The directional pad wobbles a bit compared to the tight pad on the Controller S, making it slightly more difficult to pull off precise moves in games such as Soul Calibur II. The analog thumbsticks are a little taller than those found in the first-party controllers and have rounded thumbpads instead of ones with concave tips, like Microsoft's controllers have. The height difference is subtle, but it actually provides more precise control in racing and first-person shooters. Because of the rounded pads, in dozens of hours of usage our thumbs never slipped out of position.
The springs in the triggers are weaker than those in the Controller S and take some getting used to. The right trigger on the stick we tested was so sensitive that merely resting our index finger on it caused it to respond. This isn't a big deal in racing games, but it can cause problems in first-person shooters, as a slight nudge can cause your gun to fire when you don't want it to. The lighter pull was actually a boon in racing games, where the triggers must be held down for several minutes, but this isn't the best controller for playing games such as Halo 2.
The Cordless Precision has no slots to accommodate memory cards or standard Xbox Live Communicators. Instead, Logitech includes a small base unit that provides those slots and plugs into one of the Xbox's controller ports. You can plug the Communicator dongle into the base unit and stretch the headset's cord across the room--which pretty much eliminates the whole advantage of the controller's wireless design. A better solution is to invest in Logitech's excellent, which liberates you from the tyranny of cables once and for all.
Button-layout and headset issues notwithstanding, this is arguably the best wireless Xbox controller on the market. Its 2.4GHz wireless technology gives it tremendous range, letting the signal penetrate nearly any intervening object. The Cordless Precision's response times are so fast that it's virtually indistinguishable from a wired controller during play. There's no on/off switch; the unit automatically shuts down after being idle for 5 minutes. We got more than 50 hours of use out of two AA batteries with the Rumble feature enabled the entire time. The rumble feedback isn't incredibly strong compared to that of Microsoft's wired controllers, but it's excellent for a wireless unit, especially considering the controller's low battery usage. The Cordless Precision is an excellent value for the money.