Hot on the heels of Moga’s Ace Power recently-announced iOS 7 controller, Logitech has just announced their own iOS controller, called the PowerShell. We had a chance to go hands-on with the device this week at Logitech’s headquarters in Newark, California, and our initial impressions are very positive.
The PowerShell is a sturdy plastic and rubber controller with a space in the middle for your iOS device. The PowerShell uses a Lightning connector, so it only works with the iPhone 5, 5S, 5C, or 5th generation iPod Touch. If you have a 5th generation iPod Touch, the PowerShell comes with a blue piece of plastic that slips behind the iPod for a better fit.
Once your device is locked into place, there’s no need to sync the PowerShell, or activate your Bluetooth connection like you had to with the iCade Mobile. By flicking a switch on the side of the PowerShell, you can charge your device while you play games, which will definitely come in handy on long trips.
With iOS 7 and a growing number of mobile developers supporting third-party controllers, we’re very excited about the potential for this device. The PowerShell has a good, solid feel, with etchings on the back where your hands naturally rest. This raised texture means you can easily grip the device, and it won’t go flying out of your sweaty hands when you get too excited.
You may notice that compared to the Ace Power from Moga, Logitech’s PowerShell has fewer buttons and joysticks. The Ace Power has four shoulder buttons, while the PowerShell has only two, and it has just one D-pad instead of a D-pad and two analog sticks. Both controllers have four face buttons. We expect that Logitech will eventually launch an “extended” verison of their controller as well, but they weren’t ready to talk about it yet.
In terms of games, Logitech provided us with a few demos and a long list of supported apps. We went hands-on with Lego Lord of the Rings and Galaxy on Fire 2, two high-quality games where the controller lent a natural, console-like feel. Lego Lord of the Rings only requires two buttons, one to jump and one to attack, so the PowerShell provides more than enough buttons.
Remarkably, Logitech’s PowerShell buttons react differently depending on how much pressure you apply to them. This means that in racing games, you can fine-tune your acceleration by easing up on the buttons, like we did in a demo of the Z2Live freemium game Nitro.
While playing compatible games on the PowerShell, the onscreen controls disappear entirely, which allowed us to really appreciate the game’s visuals. And if you ever do need to swipe or draw onscreen, the screen is unobscured, so you can still interact with it.
We can only think of two drawbacks to the PowerShell. One is that your device is locked into landscape mode, so games like Tetris Blitz or Galaga will not be easy to enjoy. The second sticking point is the price– $99.99 is a lot for a dedicated controller, especially on top of the price of a brand-new smartphone or iPod. Hopefully the price will drop after the holiday buying season, or competition between Moga and Logitech will drive the price lower.
From our brief hands-on, the PowerShell seems like a good device to buy if you play a lot of games on the compatibility list. We’re going to spend some more time with the PowerShell once it’s available to let you know definitively whether it’s worth buying or not. Meanwhile, browse this list to see which games have been confirmed by Logitech to be compatible at launch, along with links to our review coverage.