Tech Tuesday: SteelSeries Stratus

SteelSeries_Stratus_Gaming_Controller

urlAs the iPad continues to dominate gamers are still struggling with inaccurate and awkward touch-screen controls. Never fear though, SteelSeries is hard at work trying to come up with the best controller to combat this. We take a look at its latest offering, the Stratus.

Small on size, big on features

Small on size, big on features

Having reviewed the SteelSeries Free before, it was exciting to hear that the same company was developing a new controller. The Free boasted a great design, it was ergonomic, light, and in my opinion, is still today one of the best Bluetooth gaming pads available.

The Stratus may look similar, but it has changed a great deal. Firstly, it takes one of my favourite features out becoming entirely an iOS device and not offering a switch function for Android like its predecessor. The reasoning behind this is the Stratus has been carefully designed with the future in mind. Apple’s well-loved devices have added new functionality in iOS7 (Apple’s latest operating system) which allow full controller support for the first time, finally bringing it in-line with consoles. This means the system is now capable of connecting up to four Stratus controllers to a single iPad with the red LEDs on the controller indicating which player they are.

Game on

Game on

Moving on to features, the Stratus packs a lot into a small pocket sized device. It has a decent battery life of around 10 hours and gives gamers an on/off switch to help avoid wasted juice. It keeps many similar design features of the Free with only new ergonomic grooves to aid with comfort. One cool new feature is its cover which not only helps protect it from damage but can be flipped onto the rear of the controller to give it a bit more depth for gamers with bigger hands. I did find it can be a little loose at times and it has stated to pop off randomly with more use, but the version supplied was a prototype and this may be fixed by the time it is released.

As far as performance is concerned the Stratus is probably the best tablet controller I have played. All of the buttons and the D-pad are pressure sensitive meaning they feel much more like an XBox or PlayStation gamepad and less flimsy. The analogue sticks provide accurate movement and are well positioned, even for bigger hands. The few games out there for it so far run well, and the fact that it has all the functionality of a standard game controller, right down to the four shoulder buttons means huge potential to see some more console style games as the year unfolds.

Stratus-Specs

Overview

The only major problem I have with the SteelSeries Stratus is its intense price tag. Even the current generation of consoles are flogging their hi-tech gamepads at $99, but the Status’ asking price is RRP AU$129, which is bizarre. Though this unit is amazing and will no doubt become a must have purchase as the games begin to flood in, the lack of properly supported titles and its ludicrous release price make it difficult to support. If you are a gamer who likes to be on the front-lines of technology, this is a great device. It is the first of its kind and opens an interesting and exciting market for the next few years but for most of us, the Stratus is asking too much for what is on offer. I suggest you wait until the price drops.

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Joshua Philpott

Tech MacGyver
Games writer, podcaster and tech wizard. Obsessed with obscure horror films, crazy gadgets and caffeine. Passionate, argumentative and open minded. Freelance writer and co-founder rawDLC.

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  • Chad Wheeler

    This kind of thing is always an excellent idea, especially with the vast popularity of tablet and smart phone gaming, but not the most useful if you don’t have any want or need for a tablet.

  • Northy179

    I got a logitech controller just yesterday and I love it.

    I’ve always been a fan of game controllers on iOS, any previous game projects I’ve worked on have always had iCade and iControlPad support and my next iOS game will have full MFI controller support.

    I’ll send you guys some promo keys when it is released, I think you will get a kick out of it :P

  • adin75

    Personally, I have never understood the attraction to mobile games, so the idea of spending that kind of money on a controller to play them is insane.

    iOS only makes it even less attractive.

  • PSIress

    I’m with you adin.