Do you suffer from sweaty hand syndrome when playing your favorite video game? Do hate that your current controller slips out of your hands right at the most important part of the game? Do you wish there was something you could do to solve this problem? Well, now there is! It is called the Nyko Air Flo EX controller for Xbox and you can buy it at your local video game retailer now! Okay, so maybe I went down the infomercial path in the above statements, but that is what I thought of when I first heard about the Air Flo controller from Nyko back in April 2002. I thought that it was going to be The Clapper or Chia Pet of the video game industry. Well, what I thought was going to be a joke actually turned out to be pretty cool and I actually use the Air Flo technology during intense video game sessions to dry my hands and it works.
One year after the first Air Flo controller was released for Xbox, Nyko has redesigned it and renamed it the Air Flo EX. I don’t know what EX means exactly but the name change is appropriate, since it has a different design compared to the old one. The new Air Flo EX controller features an improved 8-way directional pad, different shape and style buttons, a new button layout, redesigned controller body, Xbox Live headset compatibility, and a new one button fan operation method, which are all great and welcome improvements.
The Air Flo EX controller for Xbox is about the same size as the Microsoft Controller-S with a little thicker handles to accommodate the Air Flo. The 8-way directional pad has the same look and feel as the one on the original larger Xbox controller, which is good and responsive, but doesn’t have the plus shape to tell you exactly where left, right, up, and down are. This might bother some people but it seemed fine to me. The A, B, X, Y, black, white, left and right triggers buttons, analog sticks, and directional pad are all the same distance apart as the Controller-S and easy to reach. The only buttons that are not in the same place as the Controller-S are the Start and Back buttons, which are located in the middle of the controller. These buttons seemed fine to me in this location so I don’t have any complaints. So, if you like the feel of the Controller-S you will also like the Air Flo EX controller.
Another feature that is nice to see fixed form the original Air Flo controller for Xbox is the Xbox Live headset compatibility. The original Air Flo for Xbox didn’t work with the Xbox Live headset since the adapter would not go down far enough to make connection in the expansion card slot. The new Air Flo EX has expansion slots that look the same as the standard Microsoft Xbox controllers and they work perfectly now. I tried the slots with the Xbox Live Communicator adapter and the Xbox Music Mixer karaoke microphone adapter and they both worked fine.
The dual vibration feature works well and feels just as responsive and the same strength as the Microsoft brand Xbox controllers. This functionality worked as expected and I had no problems with it or any of the other Air Flo EX controller’s features in the following games that I tested it with: Dead or Alive 3, Ford Racing 2, Grabbed by the Ghoulies, MotoGP, and Sega GT 2002.
The controller’s construction is also great and it feels very sturdy in my hands and I think you will have a hard time breaking it. It also has a 10 foot breakaway cable that was enough for me to reach the couch without having to use an extension cable. It is really nice that Nyko has made a third party controller that feels just as good as the ones made by Microsoft. Some third party controllers look and feel cheap but Nyko has stepped up to the challenge.
The only minor problems I have with the controller are the chrome plate on the front between the buttons and the handles seem to poke me in the palm of my hands. The chrome looks cool and is all neat and shiny but has a tendency to get fingerprints on it very quickly. I found myself wiping it off to reveal the shine every time I played. It is no big deal and I like the chrome but I just wish it didn’t get fingerprints on it as easily. The other problem I had with the controller is the handles. They are the same length as the Controller-S handles but because they are thicker they feel like they are shorter and hit me in the palms of my hand. It isn’t that big of a deal but it feels like the controller would have had an even better feel if the handles were just a little longer or thinner in diameter.
The last and most important feature I want to talk about is the Air Flo EX’s cooling technology. The Air Flo technology that I thought was a joke is really a nice and welcome feature. The Air Flo technology was fine on the original Air Flo controller for Xbox but with the EX they have made it even better. The Air Flo EX now has bigger slots so more air gets through and they changed it from a two button operation, one for on/off and one for low/high, to a single larger button that controls on/off and low/high settings all in one. This is really nice and I found myself turning the Air Flo feature on and up and down right in the middle of gameplay without skipping a beat. I noticed that I didn’t like the air blowing on my hands all the time since they would start to get cold but with the one button operation I could easy turn it on and off whenever I wanted.
What can I say? The Air Flo EX controller for Xbox is just as good if not better than the Microsoft Controller-S controller. With a similar layout to the Controller-S that most people like and the Air Flo technology that you can turn on or off, the Air Flo EX for Xbox is a great controller. The only complaints I have about the controller are the easily fingerprinted chrome faceplate and the handles that could have been longer or thinner. Both of these issues are minor and should not interfere with you considering the Air Flo EX for your next Xbox controller purchase, since it is a great controller. So, if you are looking for a new Xbox controller and were thinking about getting the Controller-S take a look at the new Air Flo EX controller from Nyko. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
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