Logitech’s Powershell combines game control and power for iPhone gaming, but the whole package falls wide of the mark, especially given its asking price.
Logitech Powershell: On the plus side
Logitech’s Powershell came in for review right in the middle of my testing period for another iOS game controller, the Steel Series Stratus. As such, a bit of comparison was inevitable, because both products target games playing iOS device owners, which, if the App store charts are to be believed, is a rather large market.
Like the Stratus, the Logitech Powershell is an iOS 7 specific game controller designed to enhance gameplay on compatible titles, a list that’s expanding at a relatively rapid rate, highlighted by titles such as Grand Theft Auto:San Andreas, Tomb Raider, Double Dragon Trilogy and Terraria; Terraria even makes it onto the box art for the Logitech Powershell.
The Logitech Powershell has an interesting design. It’s very similar to the smaller, iPhone-centric iCade controllers in that it’s designed for an iOS device to sit in the middle supporting landscape-style gameplay. A single D-Pad sits on the left hand side, with four small buttons on the right and a single pair of shoulder buttons at the top.
The Powershell’s buttons are quite well made — I particularly liked the solid shoulder buttons that offered a much larger strike zone than those on the Steel Series Stratus, but then the Powershell is a much larger controller. Conversely, the face buttons feel quite small for a controller this large.
Like the Steel Series, the Logitech Powershell does offer a higher degree of accuracy in supported games than relying simply on touch controls, so in that respect it does do what it’s meant to do.
The other added trick within the Powershell’s sleeve in inherent in the name. It’s not only a game controller, but also a 1500mAh battery that charges a Lightning-compatible iPhone or iPod Touch placed within it.
Given that games are easily the most power-hungry apps you can throw at an iOS device, this is quite a welcome idea. Although it should be said — because I tested it — that you look like a complete idiot holding this thing up to your ear to take phone calls. Was anyone hankering for a return to N-Gage style side talking?
Logitech Powershell: On the minus side
As much as the Logitech Powershell gets the basics essentially correct, it’s still beset with a few issues, especially compared to its competition.
For a start, it’s only got a single D-Pad controller, which means that, for example, in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas you can control CJ’s movement, but not the camera at the same time. You’re stuck playing games only in landscape orientation, unless you fancy a little Atari Lynx style odd button placement gaming.
That’s not just an idle comparison, either. The Logitech Powershell is also really quite large. That’s undeniably a careful balancing act. I could just as easily say that the Steel Series Stratus is small — indeed, I’m pretty sure that I did — but the issue here is that this is a games controller for mobile gaming, and the Logitech Powershell is quite size comparable to the Lynx, and as such not something you could easily slip into a pocket.
The battery backup is undeniably useful, but it’s also limiting; this is a games controller for iPhones and iPod Touch devices, but not iPad gaming if that’s what you’re after, because the connection is Lightning, not Bluetooth.
Logitech Powershell: Pricing
I tend to look at product pricing last when assessing a product, largely because I don’t want the price to significantly affect my thoughts on how well a product works. Still, based on the simpler design alone, I somewhat figured that Logitech would be offering it at a cheaper price point than the more flexible Steel Series Stratus.
I was wrong.
The Logitech Powershell’s Australian RRP is $129.95, sitting in exactly the same price bracket as the Steel Series Stratus — or in other words, arguably too much for a games controller.
Yes, it’s also a battery for your iPhone, which is no bad thing in the value stakes, but that’s an added extra rather than the reason you’d buy the Logitech Powershell.
Logitech Powershell: Fat Duck Verdict
There’s no denying that physical controls can add an awful lot to the iOS gaming experience, and at a basic level, the Logitech Powershell does just that, alongside battery power for keeping your gaming sessions running that much longer.
The issue is that it doesn’t do enough for that kind of asking price. Like the Steel Series Stratus, it’s way too much to pay for a game controller, and that means it’s likely to be a niche product. Against the similarly priced Steel Series Stratus, it’s less games capable both in control and supported devices, making it the poorer choice for games-crazed iOS owners.