With the success of the Wavebird for the Nintendo GameCube and with a plethora of companies producing wireless controllers, it was natural for the Xbox 360 to move to a wireless solution. With that, the Xbox 360 will support up to four wireless controllers. Running on 2 AA batteries, the controllers are based on the S design and has a 30-foot range. You can play up to 40 hours on a single charge and when running low on juice it will warn you. A great design by Microsoft is that you can plug the controllers in to the console to recharge the batteries and still use them as if they were regular wired controllers. The control works on the 2.4GHz range so if you don’t have success with current wireless controllers using that technology, you might have some problems with this one as well. It’s a crowded band with phones and wireless routers but the controller will feature “frequency-hopping spread spectrum” technology to cut down on the chances for interference.
A headset jack on the controller is an improvement over the original Xbox design where you had to plug it into an expansion port. A few companies released wireless headsets but the new design will now only tether you to the controller rather than the console.
In the center will be a new Xbox Guide Button in the shape of the logo. This context sensitive button lets you access various functions such as jumping into the Gamer Guide, Live Marketplace, contacting your friends, and accessing multimedia to name a few. Say someone sends you a message during a game. You can press the button to bring that message to the front. Depending on the situation, the button will function differently. You’ll see this button on other controllers such as the DVD remote. You can also use the button to turn the Xbox 360 on and off.
I remember talking to Logitech at an E3 a few years ago asking if they could make a controller with the white and black buttons moved to the trigger position. Fast forward a few years and that’s going to be the design for the controllers for the Xbox 360. In my opinion, this change will make the buttons a lot more useful since they will be easier to reach. It’s about time I say and one change I’m really glad to see.
Microsoft’s not in any trouble with Immersion so the controllers are going to rumble on. With that you can set different levels of rumbling. I’ve seen this in a few Mad Catz controllers and by changing the strength or turning it off completely, you can lengthen the battery life. There will be four modes: Full, Medium, Low, and Off.
If you don’t want to use a cordless controller and long for a wire, Microsoft will be offering the traditional wired controller. There will be a long 9-foot card with the same break-away feature that was in the Xbox controllers. Other than the cord, it will have the same features as the wireless one.
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