These include that knock-off "Player 2" controller at your friend's place, rechargeable battery packs that last around three hours on the first charge and an hour on the second, and that cheap headset that not only looks as though it came from outer space but sounds as though it's receiving from outer space.
Thankfully, Microsoft has a tendency to only lend its official Xbox branding to high-quality accessories, and headsets from Turtle Beach and branded hard disk drives (HDDs) from Sandisk tend to elevate expectations decent third-party Xbox accessories. Until now, however, I've not been able to attribute that same level of quality to a third-party rechargeable battery kit.
Say hi to Controller Gear, which has products available on the official Microsoft Store. The company joins a handful of others raising my expectations of non-Microsoft Xbox accessories.
This is a review of Controller Gear's Xbox Pro Charging Stand, designed specifically for the Xbox's Recon Tech Special Edition controller.
Look and feel
One of the most annoying things about third-party accessories is the cut-corners attitude to materials. Thankfully, not only did Controller Gear go all-out to make this controller stand look great, it also leveraged the exact same materials used by Microsoft in the Recon Tech controller.
This is something I'd sooner expect to have emerged from one of Microsoft's in-house design labs.
Matte plastics are joined by textured, military-style trappings that faithfully recreate the Recon Tech-like look. Subtle gold trimmings, digital mesh-like patterns and circuitry accents really help this charging dock stand head and shoulders above the rest, particularly if you have the Recon Tech gamepad to match.
On the reverse, there's a "Controller Gear" branding engraving, which is tucked away and doesn't obscure the overall design, and the curvature of the stand and accuracy of the plastic mold for housing the controller are top-notch. This is something I'd sooner expect to have emerged from one of Microsoft's in-house design labs.
Crucially too (and this is a feature most controller stands neglect), is that this thing has a hefty weight to it. This means that a taught cable won't pull it all over the place, and a rubber underside helps with the grip on your setup too. I think I would've preferred four corner rubber feet, rather than a full flat panel of rubber, since my table isn't completely flat. But that's a minor gripe.
Controller Gear totally nailed the look and feel with this product, but how well does it work?
The Controller Gear Xbox Pro Charging Stand looks the part, but all too often third-party battery solutions are sub-par. This isn't the case with the Xbox Pro solution, but I do have a couple of small issues.
The Xbox Pro Charging Stand needs to be connected to a direct power source and isn't compatible with USB solutions at all. If you were hoping to be able to hook it up to your Xbox directly to charge your controllers, that's a no-go.
But wouldn't you just be able to charge the battery pack from the Xbox controller's cable? In my experience, that's a no as well. For whatever reason, the rechargeable battery that comes with the Xbox Pro Charging Stand can't seem to achieve a full charge via the Xbox controller's USB port, forcing you to use the mains power. It's by no means a huge deal, but it feels like it would've been easy to make this an option.
On the plus side, mains charging is far faster than any sort of charging capable via the Xbox's USB 3.0 ports, so you won't be waiting around long. The rechargeable battery has a three-pin magnetic interface with the stand, accessible via a custom battery door that is also designed to match the Recon Tech controller (or any other style of controller in Controller Gear's product range). It's compatible with all versions of Xbox One controllers, too, including the Elite. Simply drop the controller in place when you're done gaming, and when you come back, you should be powered up and ready to rock, complete with charging indicator lights.
Controller Gear says the battery lasts up to 12 hours of continuous gaming. I found that it lasts eight hours to 10 hours in practice, which isn't particularly far from the company's claims. I also found that the battery will deplete rapidly even if the controller is turned off. It feels as though it's designed to sit in the stand when it's not in use to maintain a charge.
Overall, the Xbox Pro Charging stand does exactly what it says it does. You plug in, charge, and play, and it works really well, albeit with a lack of versatility.
Final thoughts on Controller Gear's Xbox Pro Charging Stand
Controller Gear pulled off something quite remarkable by creating something I'd have guessed to be the product of the Xbox design team itself, rather than a third-party. The recreation of the Recon Tech design is incredibly faithful, the battery life is solid, and the materials and construction represent true quality.
- Great construction and materials.
- Solid battery life.
- Various color options and good value.
- USB charging option would be great.
- Battery depletes fast when not docked.
I would have liked to have seen some versatility with the charging options, leveraging USB at least, but that's minor complaint. Controller Gear effectively put together the perfect way not only to display your sexy limited edition controllers but charge them up in the process.
The chargers start at $39.99, and can be found on the official U.S. Microsoft Store.
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