Audio veteran and gaming headset maker Turtle Beach's first game controller, specializes in -- what else -- bringing amplified audio to a controller. The new $60 (£50, AU$100) USB Recon Controller works with theor PC, adding equalizer presets, volume, mic mute, mic monitoring and more to any you plug into it. The controller is in preorder now and slated to ship in August.
I love having the audio settings at my fingertips. Like many people, I've felt frustrated by the general absence of audio controls on other controllers. Even if your headset has volume settings on an earcup or inline on the cable, they're much easier to change on the fly using the illuminated buttons on the controller rather than groping around your ears trying to distinguish the mute from the power button or the game/chat balance from the volume controls.
In addition to the equalizer, the controller includes the company's Superhuman Hearing. It's intended to amplify quiet sounds so you can hear that twig snap behind you, but I find it boosts everything enough that I prefer it to any of the equalization presets.
In addition to the audio controls, you can save the back Action button mappings and Pro Aim setting (which adjusts the sensitivity of the right stick) to one of four profiles, including turning them off.
I like the Action buttons better than the standard left and right buttons. They're easier for me to manipulate with my ring fingers, since the regular buttons aren't exactly under my forefingers and feel like more of a contortion to get to. They have a rough texture, which I wasn't crazy about initially but eventually I got used to it.
Because they're mapped in the controller, they remain consistent across games and from console to PC. But if you don't want them to retain that mapping for every game, you can save different combinations to the profiles.
The rubberized grips were more of an issue, though. The grip type is a personal preference; some people like the feel, others don't. I'm in the "like" camp and several of my controllers have them.
I didn't like these much. Turtle Beach claims the design allows for airflow to help prevent the "sweaty palm" problem, but I found they made it worse. My hands felt sticky after about 45 minutes of play.
The placement of the custom controls means the two menu buttons are lower down on the controller than your muscle memory may be used to. It took me a while to adapt, but at least you can't screw things up if you accidentally hit one of the custom settings buttons.
It's not the best controller around but it's not bad. And for some folks, the built-in amp may make it worth switching from an older, more comfortable model.