The Xbox 360 pad may be the reigning champion for the most popular controller on Steam, but Steelseries have just announced a new challenger to that title in the form of their dual wireless Stratus Duo. Priced at £60 / $60, the Stratus Duo comes with support for Bluetooth 4.1 and the usual 2.4GHz wireless so you can use it with your PC and Android phone alike, as well as mobile-based VR headsets including the Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Go.
You can switch between the Stratus Duo’s two wireless modes by flicking a small switch on the top edge next to the shoulder buttons. You don’t have to install any additional software such as Steelseries’ Engine app to set it up, either, but naturally you will need to plug in its USB adapter to use it over its 2.4GHz wireless connection.
You can also carry on playing while charging the controller up over USB, which you may be doing fairly frequently considering its battery life only lasts around 20 hours or so, going by Steelseries official figures. That’s half of what you can manage on Steelseries’ existing Stratus XL wireless controller, and ten hours less than your typical Xbox One pad.
Still, here’s hoping the Stratus Duo’s improved triggers and analog joysticks might make up for its somewhat stingy battery life. The former have been redesigned since the Stratus XL and now feature something called Magnetic Hall Effect sensors, which is meant to improve each trigger’s response time, consistency and overall precision. The latter, meanwhile, are meant to have even smaller dead zones (the bit at the centre of a joystick that’s often considered its default position) than before, allowing for greater levels of control.
Since it’s also compatible with Android 3.1 phones and above, a separate grip will also be available in mid-February that clamps onto the top of the controller so you can use it for mobile games as well. This will cost an extra $10 (UK pricing to be confirmed) on top of the controller.
Of course, it’s hard to tell from pictures alone what the Stratus Duo will feel like once it’s in your hands, but it definitely looks like it will be a lot more comfortable / ergonomic than the Stratus XL and its short, stubby arm grips. Will it be able to beat the mighty Xbox 360 / Xbox One pads, though? Hopefully, I won’t have to wait too long to find out, as I should be getting one in for review very shortly. Watch this space.