capsule review

Game Gear: Mad Catz wireless controller

I’m a big fan of Mad Catz’s PC Con game controller—a wired USB game pad that’s similar in design to Microsoft’s Xbox Controller S. Now Mad Catz has taken the same design and made it wireless.

Despite its awkward name, the PC Con Wireless is compatible with both Macs and PCs. The controller connects to the Mac via a rectangular USB transmitter about the size of a pager. The controller communicates with the base via 2.4GHz Radio Frequency (RF) signals. The transmitter’s bulky design bocks neighboring ports if plugged directly into your Mac’s USB port. Mad Catz solves this problem by including an extension USB cable—though this detracts a bit from the device’s otherwise attractive design.

The game pad runs on three AA batteries. I played for seven or eight hours without running out of juice. However, I wish the controller came with a mounting stand to recharge the batteries. As it is, you’ll have to recharge batteries on your own or remember to keep a supply of AAs on hand.

The game pad’s setup is virtually identical to the PC Con and the Xbox Controller S. Gel grips on either side on the controller offer comfortable purchase for the palms of your hand. You’ll find a directional pad and two programmable buttons on the left side within easy reach of your thumb. Underneath the right thumb is another analog thumbstick and six more buttons.

On the trailing edge of the game pad is an on/off switch. A green LED inside the devices goes from flashing to solid once the game pad has successfully connected with the base.

That’s really all there is to it. The game pad doesn’t include driver software so there’s nothing to configure. Games either support the pad or they don’t. For those that don’t, you can use a third-party utility such as USB Overdrive ($20) to add support.

At $30, the PC Con is $10 more expensive than the wired version. But it’s a great choice for people who want to keep their desks free of clutter.

The bottom line

Game pads aren’t for everyone, and don’t work with every game. But if you’re looking for one that closely resembles Microsoft’s Xbox Controller S and don’t want the mess of wires, the PC Con Wireless is definitely worth checking out.

PC Con Wireless
RATING:  
PROS: Eliminates wire clutter; comfortable design; attractive design.
CONS: Batteries add weight; chunky transmitter blocks ports unless you use an ugly extension cable; no driver software.
PRICE: $30
OS COMPATIBILITY: Mac OS X
COMPANY: Mad Catz

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