The PowerA Spectra Infinity Controller is an all-new controller for the PlayStation Vita (PS Vita) for those who want a controller that looks as good as it feels. But the aesthetic isn’t the only thing that makes the Infinity Controller stand out from the crowd. The unique design of the Infinity Controller also plays an important role in improving controls. The main aim of the Infinity Controller is to offer users a controller that better fits their hands because of its smaller size, but also to offer greater accuracy of movement.
PowerA has produced a handful of controllers over the past several months, but the Spectra Infinity is its first foray into the “gaming” market. In the past, the manufacturer specialized in non-gaming accessories such as the Turbo for PS3, and the Pivot for the PSP. The Spectra Infinity is a 3-in-1 style controller, featuring a standard D-pad and two analog sticks. It’s also wireless, which allows for a level of mobility that will be of use to gamers and non-gamers alike.
PowerA’s Spectra Infinity controller pack is a fantastic accessory for those who play colorful games (and more) on the PlayStation Vita. The pack includes two controllers, a USB cable, and a desktop stand. I’ll be looking at the stand first, as it’s the least impressive of the three. The stand is a black plastic block with a column of six buttons on one side, and a power button on the other. The buttons are made of a rough plastic that feels like sandpaper, and they don’t have much of a tactile feel so using them is a bit of an effort. One good thing about the buttons is that they’re soft and can be pressed in to a firmer position, so you don’t have to press them
In analyzing various controllers over the previous few years, I’ve seen how much superior third-party solutions have become. When I was a kid, it seemed like the off-brand controller was the one you let your friend use when they came over for couch co-op, and your first-party controller was always second fiddle. However, this isn’t always the case.
The new PowerA Spectra Infinity Xbox controller is one of the best instances of how far third-party controllers have come. It immediately sticks out due to its vivid display of lights, but the distinguishing elements are more than just ornamental.
The Spectra Infinity has become my go-to gamepad on my favorite platform, offering Elite-level enhancements as well as those great colors for a fraction of the price of controllers with similar capabilities.
Review of the PowerA Spectra Infinity Controller
The first thing I noticed about the Spectra Infinity was its form factor, rather than its light show, which I hadn’t switched on yet. The Spectra Infinity has the same appearance and feel as the Xbox first-party controller.
It has the new social button, an upgraded, but not identical D-Pad, and the new Xbox controller’s subtly smaller frame. With the exception of a somewhat smaller D-Pad and a more bubble-like menu button akin to the 360 days, it’s nearly identical in both size and top-of-the-pad button layout.
However, while it’s nearly identical when measured, layers are added to make it superior than the standard Xbox controller. The rubber grip around your palms is the first step. I’ve come to believe that the rubber grip is an essential starting point for any controller aspiring to be excellent, and the Spectra Infinity has it in spades. One box has been checked.
Then there’s the integrated mute and volume controls, which are centered around a reliable and sturdy single button with a left tilt that turns it down, a right tilt that turns it up, and a press that mutes your mic while emitting a handy but unobtrusive red glow that indicates you’re muted.
It’s a basic concept, yet a lot of rivals get it wrong. It’s refreshing to see a seasoned organization like PowerA figure out how this function should work and put it into practice. Another box has been ticked.
Some of the Elite-level features caught me off guard. While the Spectra Infinity lacks back paddles, it does include two additional buttons on the back that may be programmed to duplicate any other button. I switched my cooldown powers to these back buttons while playing The Ascent, a rapid-fire action-RPG, so I wouldn’t have to take my fingers off the triggers.
The time saved is only milliseconds to seconds at most, but in this fast-paced game, especially in more competitive settings like battle royale games — which I like — that difference is critical. I didn’t detect any significant disadvantages to these being buttons rather than paddles.
They have a distinct click similar to the shoulder buttons — LR/RB — and are simple to disable when you don’t wish to use them. If you truly want to ignore them, all you have to do is not program them to do anything, and their clicks will have no effect.
The Spectra Infinity also has three different trigger locks that may be customized. I didn’t like the feel of the triggers at first, but then I learned they weren’t adjusted to my liking. I discovered the goldilocks zone for my shooters like Fortnite and PUBG by setting them to the center option.
The changes, like the time of utilizing back buttons versus shoulder buttons, are minor, but they become more noticeable while you’re playing a difficult game or fighting in a multiplayer combat.
That’s why the Spectra Infinity pleasantly impressed me. It has more competitive features than I expected in its familiar frame. Furthermore, the colors, while just ornamental, are appropriate for a gaming period driven by customisation and individuality. The choices are endless with three regions to assign one of 20 colors each, and the results always look beautiful on the matte black frame.
As you can see, I had a lot of fun matching the controller to the game tile of whichever game I was playing. It’s vivid without being distracting, and it’s neon without being cheesy. Even with the handbook explaining how to change and lock in the colors, it took me a minute to figure out how to do it, but after I did it once, it made obvious. It’s just not as simple as using the back buttons to program.
The braided wire is the only noticeable problem I’ve seen with the controller. According to my understanding, only Microsoft is allowed to produce wireless Xbox controllers, which is why third-party controllers always include a cord. The industry norm appears to be a 10-foot braided cord, which is typically sufficient, but the Spectra Infinity’s chord tangles more frequently than similar controller cords I’ve been testing this year.
I’m not sure why this is the case. The chord seems like any other competitor’s in my hands, but this one has needed me to unplug it multiple times so I could untangle it like headphones from a pocket.
The lack of a wireless alternative may limit the Spectra Infinity’s utility, but after over two weeks with the controller, I’d say it’s more of a recurring annoyance than a dealbreaker. It’s a simple enough fix. It just seems like it shouldn’t have happened to begin with.
The Bottom Line on PowerA Spectra Infinity
- Lights that are vibrant and adjustable, with a variety of settings
- Back buttons and trigger locks are some Elite-level features.
- The volume control on board is well-designed and quite useful.
- Exact replica of the first-party form factor
- The D-Pad isn’t as enjoyable to use as the Microsoft counterpart.
- Braided cord is easily tangled.
The PowerA Spectra Infinity for Xbox is a controller with a spectacular appearance but a familiar but mostly upgraded form factor that justifies it. I adore the integrated volume control and wish it were the industry norm. The colors are purely decorative, but they look great and make the controller a pleasant gift for another Xbox or PC gamer – I’ll be ordering another for my son.
The Spectra Infinity feels like a spruced-up first-party controller, complete with smart and tasteful extras like a live-service player who spent a lot of in-game cash. This controller rates among the best and most economical third-party alternatives available, with a total price of $45, which is significantly less than most regular Xbox controllers while featuring non-standard capabilities.
[Note: The Spectra Infinity controller used in this review was given by PowerA.]
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