The SteelSeries Stratus XL is the bigger brother of the hugely popular Stratus, which we recently reviewed and was very happy with the experience it provided. One of the complaints of the original Stratus was that it was too small for some people to use comfortably, especially for those of us (me included) that have large hands. So what did Stratus do? Create the XL – but it’s not just a blown up version of the original Stratus, its been completely redesigned with comfort in mind.
SteelSeries has designed the XL to mirror the ergonomic design of modern console controllers, hence why it looks similar to an Xbox One controller with a PlayStation 4 analogue stick layout. The XL has been designed so that the sides and grips conform to your hands, providing a more comfortable experience than cheaper MFI controllers. After using it for over 10 hours of iPad gameplay, I had no complaints regarding its comfort – it feels comfortable, the buttons are easy to reach and the analogue sticks are covered in textured nubs, enabling better control.
The SteelSeries Stratus XL is designed to be lightweight (280g), which contributes to its level of comfort – but it also makes it a great travel companion. Imagine, instead of staring blankly at the person opposite you on the train during your daily commute to work, you could be carjacking sports cars and shooting gangsters on GTA: San Andreas. Yes, you could do that without a controller but the experience is much more satisfying than when using frustrating touchscreen controls. Don’t get me wrong, touch screen games are okay but when there’s nothing physical to touch, missing buttons becomes a huge issue. Either way, it definitely put me in a better mood in the mornings!
The controller is fully compatible with any MFI supported game on the App Store and works with the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and even Mac. As I mentioned, GTA: San Andreas is fully compatible with the Stratus XL and using a controller instead of a touchscreen provided a much more enjoyable and immersive experience. It upgrades the iPad from a spare-time gaming device to a serious gaming contender (thanks to the amount of cheap games on the App Store) that could be used for hours on end and taken with you wherever you go.
The Stratus XL uses intuitive button mapping, meaning that even casual gamers will be able to pick up the controller and start gaming almost instantly. It also boasts pressure sensitive buttons, analogue triggers and dual joysticks to help deliver more accurate control. All this amounts to a gaming experience that we’d never had, prior to using the Stratus XL.
SteelSeries opted to power the Stratus XL using AA batteries instead of the standard rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that other manufacturers use. This may be bad news for some, as charging is more convenient than buying batteries, but by using batteries the Stratus XL boasts a pretty impressive 40-hour battery life. With this being said, you shouldn’t need to buy new batteries too often!
The SteelSeries Stratus XL is a great piece of kit, especially for those suited to console gaming. It turns the iPad from a part-time gaming device into a fully fledged mobile games console with a range of cheap, fun games available on the App Store.
Value for money9