Accessory manufacturer Nyko recently introduced a new line of external controllers for use with Android devices, and we spent some time with them here at E3. Both the PlayPad and the PlayPad Pro communicate with your smartphone or tablet over Bluetooth, and they feel quite nice in the hand. Both models feature dual analog sticks, a D-pad, a full array of buttons, and built-in battery packs that recharge over USB. The PlayPad is about the size of an original NES controller, but with comfortable, grippable curves, and comes with a hardshell case and a collapsable stand for propping up your smartphone or tablet. The controller has a lot of nice details — the case even features a spring-loaded latch to pop the case open — and it really begs to be used. The PlayPad Pro features a more modern controller design (it's a descendent of Nyko's Raven PlayStation 3 controller) and features the same texturized surface and button layout as its sibling. Both models will be released in the fourth quarter of this year, and while final pricing hasn't been determined, Nyko anticipates that both models will come in at under $50.
Nyko has worked with Nvidia to provide native controller support for many of the games featured in Tegra Zone, with dozens of titles currently available. Google has also been part of the conversation between the two companies, and Nyko hopes that eventually the controller profile could become a standard in Android. In the meantime, the Nyko Playground app fills in the missing gaps, lettings users map controls for touch-based games directly to the controller with a drag-and-drop interface. We tested both controllers running games with baked-in and mapped controls, and found them to be quite responsive with little noticeable lag — even when the tablet we were using was throwing Shadowgun to a flat-panel television over HDMI.
Nyko is also adding a new PlayStation 3 controller to its arsenal: the Free Fighter. An arcade stick-style controller, the Free Fighter connects over USB and features six buttons and a high-quality stick that felt great when playing Soul Calibur V. The controller offers four different macro buttons, each capable of stroring more than 20 different actions, and two turbo buttons for programing rapid-fire hits. (Nyko has enabled a switch that deactivates the macro modes so the controller can be used in tournament settings.) The Free Fighter comes with its own stand that can adjusted for use on the lap or a table, and the stick and button sections of the controller can be disassembled to be used separately, or have their orientation swapped to cater to both the right- and left-handed. The Free Fighter will be available in September for $179.99.