Comparison: Xbox Wireless Adaptor for Windows VS Windows 10 Variant
This review covers both the larger unit released in 2015 and the smaller successor released in 2017, delayed until 2018 in the U.S. The latter was provided free of charge by Microsoft for this review.
Using controllers wirelessly with various devices, not just the intended console has been an idea pretty much since wireless controllers started. However, in an age where compatibility is key and Windows 10 and Xbox One consoles use the same core operating system, it was interesting that prior to the release of the wireless adaptors, the only two ways you could use your console controllers with your PC were either via Bluetooth or via a USB cable.
So what's so good about these adaptors?
They allow for multiplayer connectivity (Up to 8 on the same device) and are near enough lag-free, compared to Bluetooth which reportedly can introduce some latency.
That and they're pretty easy to set up. Finally, not forgetting that your computer doesn't need any Bluetooth drivers and no extra leads depending on where you want your adaptor and how good a line of sight it has to your controllers.
I'd like to thank Microsoft for providing me with the newer smaller Wireless Adaptor for Windows 10 to review, as I was interested in comparing the two units (the larger of which I'd bought myself).
With that all out of the way, on to the review.
The Below unboxing instructions are for the larger unit. My smaller review unit didn't have any packaging with it, otherwise notes for that would be included here.
Take the box and place it so that the hanger used for stores is directly away from you. Then look for the adhesive circle on the side closest to you and remove that with a finger or cut it carefully with a safety blade or scissors.
Once you've pulled the box open with the store hanger facing left, you'll see two sides to the inside. One is just packing and the other contains the wireless adaptor itself, in amongst a larger cardboard holder.
Removing it is as simple as gently putting your finger at the USB port end of the adaptor and using that as leverage to lift it up and away from the box, where it will come free without issue.
If you pull the cardboard holding the adaptor out of the box (using the hole underneath where the adaptor was located), you'll find a quick setup guide and regulatory and warranty guide, both in print.
The setup for both adaptors was as simple as plugging the device in and letting it install the drivers, success of which was indicated via a system notification.
Binding a controller
Binding a controller proved to be just as simple, with the Windows 10 device recognising that a device was attempting to pair with it, or in its own words" undergoing additional setup". Once that was complete, indicated by another notification, I tested the units out.
Testing the units
Killer Instinct is a game that requires precise timing for a fair amount of its moves and mechanics. I wasn't entirely sure how well a wireless adaptor would hold up, though given that Xbox and Windows 10 devices share the same core, I wasn't as surprised to find that the game ran smoothly and accepted all of my inputs with the same fluidity as its console counterpart.
The smaller unit proved to be just as effective, letting me practice an intricate post-ultra combo juggle that I had trouble mastering at first but only due to my lack of how that particular set of moves worked.
The fact that all of this testing was done in about half an hour was also a demonstration of how making things simple aids accessibility, particularly as the reason it was so simple was due to the setup guide being available in plain, easy to read HTML online.
Skullgirls, the only example in existence of a fully accessible fighting game for those without sight on PC was a breeze to play with the adaptor.
Flitting in and out of menus, working through a few matches and performing what combos I know all proved to be no trouble and lag-free.
Street Fighter IV/V
I will confess I'm not much of a Street Fighter player, but having a way to easily play Street Fighter IV and V without needing to connect any kind of cable-based controller is certainly a good way to make these games even more pick-up and play than they already are. Again, like the games tested above, the experience was unhindered by any form of lag, with the precision of fireballs, shoryukens and even Akuma's Raging Demon all being no real barrier as I knew how to perform them, but the adaptor didn't get in the way, that's for sure.
Easy setup process
Binding controllers proved simple
Smaller unit's size was a big improvement (67% turned out to be a very large reduction indeed).
Larger unit gets hot after relatively short time of use. The smaller one does get hot as well, though it takes a while longer to do so in my experience.
Controller's sometimes don't bind properly. If you have this issue, try rebooting your machine and making sure you've held down your buttons for a few seconds (first the one on the adaptor, then the one on the controller given that it's turned on first).
If you want a way of getting lag-free gaming on the go, or just want to worry about less leads or cables, the Xbox One Wireless adaptor is certainly for you. As for which one you should get, that's pretty much up to you.
I can imagine that someone who easily loses adaptors might want the larger one to make it less likely to be misplaced, though the smaller one is so much so that it might be better to leave it plugged in if you can.
Regardless of what you decide to do with your adaptor in terms of running games and where you place it, it's probably the best reason to have an Xbox One controller to hand as well, given that anything that works with it via USB on Windows 10 can take advantage of this simple piece of technology.
I would like to again thank Microsoft for sending me the smaller unit and making this comparison possible.
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