Monday, July 27, 2015

iPega 9023 Review

For us who like our emulated gaming, we're always on the look out for devices that help with this.

There's something satisfying about having those clicking buttons and the ever elusive Joy Stick.

The iPega is a BlueTooth controller that is adjustable so it can be used with small 4" Smart Phones to anything up to a 10" Tablet. It's able to 'hug' whatever device you want to game with which gives it better versatility than anything I've seen yet. And as one of the cheapest BlueTooth controllers on the market, it's well worth a look.

I do want to note, this review is regarding Android only. I am not an iOS user, and have no plans on doing an iOS review.

First impressions of the controller were mixed. The buttons and D-pad have a nice feel to them, giving a very satisfying click. They're not weighted too heavily, but don't have a cheap feel either. The Joystick also has a quality feel to it.

The mixed feelings come from the over-all feel of the device. The iPega is light, very light. Lightness is a double edge sword. Not adding weight to a possibly already weighty tablet, good. Lightness on the verge of being flimsy and fragile, bad. When you first look at the controller, it feels like the latter option. (I will have a segment later on about how the device has held up after a month of solid use).

The use of the device and it's functionality is where it shines.

I do want to point out there are a lot of reviews about bad instructions and not being able to get the controller to pair. I have not had any of these issues. On the contrary, I have paired my iPega with 5 different devices, ranging from 2 phones (and LG and Samsung), and 3 Tablets (LG, Samsung and Lenovo); All without any fault. I didn't find the directions to be particularly difficult to understand either. It's possible the later models might have improved directions.

Fitting the iPega for your device is simple. There is a spring slider, and a locking slider. You set the locking slider to just a bit more narrow than your device, and then you use the spring to grip it. They have a further flip-out clip on the bottom for more security, but it's not overly necessary in my opinion. The grip does seem to block both the power port and audio jack on most phones and tablets. However, I've found the iPega grips well enough that I just slide my tablet up or down until I have access to the needed port(s) and continue playing. I haven't had any trouble with this at all.

There are 4 modes of pairing: A, B, X & Y. All have the controller function a little differently. My recommendation, just use the controller in 'X' mode, as that's 'Controller' mode and the only mode where the Joysticks have full functionality. To pair the device, you just press whatever mode you want on the action keys and the 'home' button. This places the controller in 'Search' mode. Once in search mode, you turn on the BlueTooth search on whatever device you want to pair with, once they see each other, you can pair them. Once paired, there's no further setup. There is a certain amount of control over the OS, and the buttons can be mapped in any program that allows for it (and I've yet to find an android emulator that doesn't have some sort button mapping). Once you're set up, paired and mapped, you're ready to game.

I've used the iPega on a myriad of emulators, ranging from Game-boy, N64, PSX, and even PSP and Dreamcast. Many will even auto-detect the controller and set up the mapping for you. The only real issue I've ran into is some emulators that can't see some of the controls. This is more of a compatibility issue and can't be blamed on the iPega as much as it is the emulators fault, as all the other emulators have no problems with recognition. Even better, most emulators allow for extra functions to be mapped (for those who like to utilize savestates, fast forwards and all the other lovely emulation features), these can all be mapped to the controller for easy cheating.

The controller functionality is nice too. As stated above, the buttons and D-Pad all have a nice feel to them with a satisfying click. I've yet to have any malfunctions, and this is after a month of pretty solid use. One oddity is the Joysticks and the dead zones. what's odd about it, is it seems to very a bit from one device to another. I pair is with my LG G-Pad, and there's almost no dead zone at all, but when I pair it with my Galaxy S3 Phone, and my Lenovo tablet and there's a noticeable dead zone (still acceptable, but larger than the tablet). As I primarily use my LG tablet for gaming, this isn't an issue for me, but be forewarned, you may deal with larger dead zones depending on what device you're using. I've yet to see anything that's a deal breaker however, and everything is still plenty usable. I also wanted to add, full functioning L3 and R3 buttons built into the Joysticks (for all you Ape Escape fans out there).

One of the most impressive aspects is the battery life. Under heavy use (and this is assuming you're using your phone / tablet for gaming at the time), the iPega will last about twice as long as any of my devices. and from a complete dead battery, it takes about an hour, maybe 2 at most to charge to full. And it is completely playable while plugged in, so you can continue playing while the controller is charging up. It takes a standard micro USB that is now the most common chargers for android phones now.

If I had to make one complaint, it would be it's mobility. Yes, the iPega is both very light and collapsible, but even fully collapsed, it's actually quite large. It's main issue is it doesn't lay flat. While using it, it's very comfortable, as it's mimics the Playstation controls in both layout and design. This makes it a bit of an awkward shape, and you're at risk of breaking it if you pack it tightly. I do want to point out that this is a somewhat minor issue as long as you take care in packing it correctly, and it's somewhat awkward shape makes it very comfortable to use.

Easy to use
Easy to pair and setup
Quality buttons and Joystick
Full functioning analog Joystick
Great selection of buttons, including a few extras built in for mapping purposes
Expands to allow play from a 4.5" phone up to a 10" Tablet
Light Weight
Ergonomic Design
Great battery life

Not very portable
Light weight might mean fragile
Seems to have slight variance between devices
Some compatibility issues with some games (Not really the iPega's fault however)

To Sum up, the iPega controller is surprising, in both quality and functionality. It's held up with some pretty rigorous gaming for well over a month without a single hiccup, broken button or quality issue. It might seem a bit on the light side, but it isn't as fragile as it seems. It's not the most portable of controllers, but it's extremely comfortable to use, even for the extended gaming sessions. And for something so affordable (I was able to find it for $23 on 'Geek'), it's really worth the small output to get a great gaming experience.

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