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Plugged In

Power A gets creative with controllers

Plugged In

Unofficial controllers have a bad (and all too often well-deserved)
reputation. Frequently, they're cheaply made, badly designed, or
fragile -- or some fatal combination of the three.

But that's far from a universal truth, as we discovered when we got
our hands on the latest range of products from Washington-based
manufacturer Power A.
Rather than just ripping off the official designs from console makers
Sony and Nintendo, Power A has delivered a couple of standout
peripherals that offer new options for gamers looking to customize
their control experience.

Power A Pro Pack Mini

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Pro Pack Mini - Power A

Unless you you actually get a look at the Mini in person, you could
be forgiven for thinking this Wii remote and nunchuk pair are just the
same as Nintendo's devices. But they're not. What's innovative here
isn't the shape and layout of the remote -- it's indeed pretty much
identical to the standard Nintendo unit -- but its size. It's about
one-third smaller than the standard Wiimote, and the nunchuk follows
suit.

This makes it perfect for smaller kids who struggle with the real
thing, but we found the smaller size remarkably comfortable for adult
players, too. It's shrouded in a rubberized, wetsuit-style material
that's much more grippy than Nintendo's slick white plastic, meaning
there's no need for controller cond...uh, remote jackets.

The Pro Pack Mini takes AAA batteries rather than the standard one's
AA, so if you're using rechargables you may need. And they're
compatible with the regular MotionPlus controller adapter, although it
looks a bit daft hanging off the bottom of the sleeker Power A
controllers. But at $50 for both a remote and a nunchuk, it's $10
cheaper than the official gear. All told, we prefer it -- and that's a
first for a third-party controller.

Power A Pro Elite Wireless Controller

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Elite Wireless - Power A

Power A's new Playstation 3 controller takes a rather different
approach. Not only is is substantially larger than the standard Sony
DualShock wireless pad, it's a completely different shape -- pretty
much the same size, shape, and layout as the Xbox 360's well-regarded
controller, in fact.

In practice, that means along with the larger body, the left
thumbstick and D-pad are switched, both thumbsticks have a concave top
as opposed to the standard PS3's domed sticks, and the shoulder buttons
wind up in a sort of no-man's land between the long-travel triggers of
the 360 and the PS3's tighter buttons. It's also finished with the same
black rubber as the miniature Wii controllers, and carries the same
force-feedback and motion-control features as the standard Sony model.

Power A's creation is wireless and rechargable -- but we were a tad
disappointed to see it requires its own "dongle" adapter that needs to
be left plugged into the PS3. (There's a wired version available for
under $20, a real bargain if you don't mind being tied down.)

Round that out with solid build quality and a reasonable price ($45,
$10 cheaper than Sony's official model) and suffice it to say that if
you prefer the 360's layout -- and many do -- Power A's Pro Elite is
the perfect choice. Now, how's about a DualShock-style pad for the 360,
guys?

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