SteelSeries Stratus XL for Windows and Android

SteelSeries Stratus XL for Windows and AndroidSteelSeries promote the console experience for PC and tablet ownersEighteen months ago, I reviewed the original SteelSeries Stratus and was critical of it for a number of reasons. My top two complaints where how small it was for anyone with large hands and that while it used Bluetooth technology, it only worked with Apple iPads and iPhones.
Therefore, I’m delighted to report that the Stratus XL is not only a similar size to a typical Xbox/PS4 controller, but it’s also available in a model that supports Windows and Android machines.SteelSeries now makes a separate version of this for iOS, should you want the same button-bashing experience with your Apple equipment.
Picking up this controller for the very first time, I was delighted to discover that my hands dropped very naturally onto the derivative combination of buttons, flippers and dual thumbsticks. If you’ve ever used a console controller, the Stratus XL is incredibly natural to hold and operate, and it makes PC games a much more consolelike experience.
Included with the controller are two AA batteries, and after those are installed you can pair this with any Bluetooth-enabled device that understands controllers.
SteelSeries, as you might expect has done a stellar job on the construction, and the Stratus XL is at least as good as the branded controllers made for the Xbox One and PS4, and in some respects it’s actually better.
The added bonus on the PC is that you can use SteelSeries Engine 3 software to customise the sensitivity of the joysticks to eliminate accidental input or invert the axis, tailoring it exactly to your specific needs. Those adjustments are rather important with the thumbsticks, because without adjustment, I found a tendency to overcontrol due to how the selfcentering mechanism works.
The only other complaint I have is that the four-letter buttons make a very audible clunk that seems to resonate through the casing.
For Android users there’s another problem that SteelSeries can’t really address: specifically the very limited number of Android games that take external controls. Most are inherently built around touchscreen control, and only a few of the better racing or shooting games support Bluetooth controllers.
Hopefully, that will change, because the few that do work with it are certainly enhanced by using the Stratus XL.
Battery life is about 40 hours on a pair of alkaline cells, though I can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t use rechargables. Helpfully, there’s a four-LED display giving you feedback about the amount of charge left.
Based on how well made the Stratus XL is, the price is about right, and it can be found cheaper for those willing to sniff out a deal. The RRP is roughly the same as Microsoft’s Xbox One controller for PC, although that isn’t Bluetooth.
If you don’t have Bluetooth on your desktop PC, then that’s an extra minor cost you’ll incur to connect it, but we’re only talking a few pounds to add that connectivity, so it’s barely a problem at all. Mark PickavanceA good console-style controller for PC and Android..

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