"In some instances even better than the original product .”
Release Date: October 2012
The market for third parties manufacturing Playstation 3 controllers is a tricky one. There is still plenty of choice, but the device either looks flimsy, oddly shaped or otherwise untrustworthy. That’s without the uncertainty whether it will be compatible with Sony’s current system update or whether or not it’s actually cheaper than the standard model. Let’s face it: Anyone in the market for a different controller does so because an official one costs a ton of money. Well, the Pocket Pro Controller from Subsonic takes away several of these insecurities at a steady price of around €30. It has a few indiscretions, but its build is surprisingly solid and this ruggedness is part of its success.
Let’s first discuss the basics. The Pocket Pro has a similar build to an Xbox 360 controller, more widely shaped than the PS3 unit. Its angular shape draws the hand toward its buttons. As a wireless system, this device is operated by plugging in a receiver into the Playstation 3, though it can also be plugged into the USB slot for recharging. One of its main selling points is that this unit is 15% smaller than a regular controller, which is noticeable to the eye. The entire thing fits into one big man hand and is visibly tiny. Is that a problem? Strangely no; it isn’t. Even if it seems like it may be troublesome, the Pocket Pro actually fits the hands well, due to its ergonomic build that is slightly thicker in width.
It accompanies this basis with sturdy buttons that are fixed tighter and therefore require slightly more force. The biggest winners in that department are its solid shoulder buttons and in particular the L2/R2 back prompts that are also curved outwards for added comfort, with honorable mention to the precisely tuned analog sticks. The Pocket Pro feels like it’s built to last and that’s definitely a step up from similar controllers sporting ridiculous colors and narrow button shapes, which are used to overcome bigger hands trying to handle smaller devices. More so, the combination of a good hand positioning and firm buttons give it a better grip. A soft, velvety finish on the unit’s plastics completes this excellent clutch. This soft touch is in fact more pleasant than the standard model and leads to less sweaty hands, even with its integrated vibration function. Those expecting hand strains can rest assured that even several hours into intensive gaming, the sum of aforementioned parts create a synergy created to fit the mold naturally.
Responsiveness is another element working in harmony with the rest of the controller’s features. Partially due to the excellent grip and button fixation, button commands react fluidly to prompts, dissipate strength appropriately and feel comfortable in hand. Again, this is in particular true for the shoulder buttons, which play fast and loose on a standard unit. We’ve played several random titles, even tricky numbers like Tron: Evolution that requires some jittery movement, but also the fierce racer SkyDrift. Certainly in the latter instance, the quick response and adaptability of the controller was a big plus. Only minutes into the game, the difference between the Pocket Pro and a standard issue was barely discernible.
Battery life is adequate, though not long in any sense. After a day’s worth of gaming, the battery life comes to a quick halt. Recharging through the USB cable is the same process as otherwise and has no different speed either. However, it does in return have an excellent battery cutoff time. After 5 or so minutes of inactivity, the controller will shut down to conserve battery. This might get a bit annoying when watching media or such on the PS3, but admittedly it does conserve battery life a lot better.
Unfortunately, there are a few blemishes. Most apparent is the Pocket Pro’s middle button, which doesn’t seem to respond as dictated in the instructions, which leads to pressing it at random. It also can’t be used to start the PS3 itself. Sorry, lazy people. There was also 1 instance where the controller locked and vibrated endlessly, but luckily it only happened once. Another issue is that it sometimes created an interference with other controllers in multiplayer. On several occasions, the PS3’s home function popped up, but on the standard controller instead of on the Pocket Pro. This could be remedied with some sync tweaking or through the device’s reset hole in the back, but it’s not a certainty. Luckily, this never happened when using the controller alone.
Despite its few flaws, the Pocket Pro controller is actually surprisingly well made. Initial skepticism upon seeing the tiny device would lead to believe that this accessory is most suited for children or people with small hands. This still is true. However, its ergonomic design fit any hand comfortably and in some instances even better than the original product. It’s hard to believe that this offers every aspect of a standard controller for half the price and without any flimsy aspect to it. Those that want to save money can rest assured that the Pocket Pro offers what is needed.