The launch of a new control pad may not be any to write home about you may think, especially when it’s for a design that, for all intents and purposes, already existed on the marketplace. However, the arrival of the OnLive Wireless Controller means many things, and not just the ability to play without a wire. The OnLive Wireless Controller is billed as a ‘universal’ device, and that’s a promise it takes very seriously.
The OnLive Wireless Controller operates in a very similar fashion to the Xbox 360 control pads: compatible with both the OnLive Microconsole and PC client (also Mac compatible), players need simply plug in the adapter and the software for the device will be automatically installed for all Windows Operating Systems from XP onwards. The core difference of course, is that you don’t need to purchase a separate adapter in order to use the pad wirelessly, potentially making the OnLive Wireless Controller the choice of preference for your next PC controller purchase should support for the device reach other services, such as titles sold via Steam.
Running with that ‘universal’ premise, the OnLive Wireless Controller is also compatible with tablets and other remote devices, running on the same open channel system for Bluetooth devices: Bluetooth enabled gaming devices needn’t use the included dongle, as the OnLive Wireless Controller can use pre-installed Bluetooth adapters also. Given that both iOS and Android devices now have their own OnLive apps the option to use the service across multiple formats is a blessing for some, but for many it’s the most direct route to top-end console productions on a lightweight portable device, and the fact that all that is needed to accompany the selected player is the pad itself – no further accessories – would surely push OnLive even further up the list of choices for gaming on the go.
The OnLive Wireless Controller comes with both a standard AA battery cradle (which requires two AA batteries, also included) and a sealed rechargeable unit, covering all options both with the compatibility and potential gameplay duration (the estimated battery life is around thirty six hours). In addition to the above mentioned wireless dongle the OnLive Wireless Controller includes a USB cable for recharging the battery pack. Up to four OnLive Wireless Controllers can be connected via a single dongle allowing for local multiplayer on the few titles that support it these days, but also a Bluetooth headset will be able to connect.
The above detailed assets of the OnLive Wireless Controller are rather subtley delivered. So much so in fact, that the only identifier between the original OnLive Controller and the OnLive Wireless Controller is the small wireless symbol printed on the front plate. Apparently all OnLive Microconsoles produced form this point on will include a OnLive Wireless Controller instead of the original product, and rightly so, for as subtle as the changes maybe, they are bound to have a significant impact on the future of the OnLive service’s cross-format appeal.