Hardware Review: Prismatic Afterglow controller for PC and XBox One
I love my Steam controller. But there’s a lot it can’t do. It just doesn’t have the right configuration for platformers or twin-stick shooters. For those, the best bet is an XBox-style PC controller that features dual analog control sticks as well as a traditional D-pad. I chose PDP Gaming’s Prismatic Afterglow controller for XBox One and PC which retails at a pretty reasonable $29.99.
Let’s see if it’s worth the dough!
Prismatic Afterglow controller: First Impressions
If nothing else can be said for this controller, the packaging is gorgeous. If I saw this on a shelf, I would want to buy it. But as it happens, this controller was provided by PDP for review. So here goes.
Out of the box, the first thing I noticed was how hefty the Prismatic Afterglow controller seems to be. It weighs in at about 7.7 ounces. Which feels like a lot to me, but when I looked it up, Microsoft’s Xbox One wired controllers weigh a whopping 10 ounces. But still, it feels solid in the hands.
The plastic shell if completely clear, exposing all the guts within and allowing the four LEDs inside shine off all the little doodads (technical term) in there. The plastic itself feels really solid and high quality.
I’ve never been an Xbox guy, so this controller style was totally new to me. But the shape seems to be nearly the exact lines and proportions of Microsoft’s Xbox One controller, except for a few interesting features we’ll cover in a bit. Overall, the aesthetic and handfeel of this controller are exceptional. I like it a lot.
The Prismatic Afterglow controller is wired with a detachable micro USB cable. It’s a 10 feet long, which should be plenty long for most gaming setups. Like the controller itself, the cable feels really well made. It’s solid and tough, particularly near the ends where cables like to short out.
At the bottom of the controller, PDP has added a 3.5 mm headset jack. And in the corner of the right thumbstick is a discrete little button.
The headphone jack allows you to play at the far end of your 10’ cord and plug in your wired headset right into the controller. And by using combinations of that little thumbstick button and the d-pad, you are able to mute the microphone and adjust the chat volume in your headset.
This is probably a good place to note that I wasn’t able to use this feature on my PC. Presumably because I’m running Windows 7. In searching previous reviews for the Prismatic Afterglow controller, I couldn’t find anybody else that reported this problem. The controller is intended to work with Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (or Xbox, of course), so I can’t really complain.
All the buttons feel great and are reliably responsive during play. The XYAB buttons are a little clicky, but not too bad. Overall, I like the feel and even though I’ve never really used an Xbox controller, it felt natural and intuitive to use.
The star of the controller is, of course, the color-shifting LEDs within.
By holding that little button by the right thumbstick, you can use the left thumbstick to choose a color and the left trigger to adjust the brightness. It’s a lot of fun just switching between colors.
By using the little button and the right button, you can cycle between four lighting modes: The standard mode, which just has the LEDs on the color and brightness you set, a pulsing “breathing” mode in which the lights slowly pulse in your chosen color, a cycle mode where the LEDs slowly change throughout the spectrum, and my favorite “stick” mode. This is where the lights change as you move the left thumbstick. It’s goofy and fun and nothing else.
If that sounds complicated, that’s my fault. It’s really simple and the quick-start guide explains it all very well.
The App: PDP Control Hub for Windows 10 and Xbox
Finally, I’ve got to talk about PDP’s Control Hub app.
In theory, the app lets you get really deep into personalizing your controller. You can recalibrate sticks and triggers, adjust vibration levels, re-map the buttons, adjust audio settings, set your glow colors, and just all sorts of cool stuff.
But the app only works with Xbox One or Windows 10. So I wasn’t able to use it. So who knows.
Prismatic Afterglow controller: Final thoughts
This thing is great. I’m into it.
If you’ve got Windows 8.1, Windows 10, or Xbox One, you should get 100% functionality from this thing and enjoy all the features. The headphone jack in particular seems really handy. The lights are fun and look really great. And the whole thing feels solid and really high quality.
And for about $30? You can bet this thing’s ghetto approved!–GG