Today's high-end Android phones and tablets have enough performance under the hood for high-end games, but who wants to shoot zombies by flicking at a touch screen? PowerA's MOGA Pro controller not only includes a bevy of useful buttons and sticks, but also provides a mounting arm to hold the phone in place while you play. The peripheral accommodates Android devices and games of almost all shapes and sizes. But will the $49 price tag leave gamers pressing pause?
Click to EnlargeThe MOGA Pro is one handsome peripheral. At 6.2 x 4.4 x 1.9 inches and 6.7 ounces, the MOGA Pro is slightly larger, but lighter than a wireless Xbox 360 controller (6.1 x 4.1 x 2.4 inches, 9.35 ounces). The Pro is also larger than its 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.8-inch, 8-ounce predecessor, the MOGA Pocket controller. Instead of the MOGA Pocket's glossy black chassis, the Pro's black chassis is an amalgamation of glossy, matte and soft-touch plastic surfaces. Our favorite parts of its design are the ribbed edges that are covered with a soft-touch finish, ensuring a firm, yet comfortable grip.
The right side of the Pro houses four shiny face buttons, a Start button and an analog stick. Another analog stick resides on the left with the D-pad and buttons for Select. A PowerA button flashes to indicate when the controller is pairing or connected. Toward the top of the controller, you'll find a traditional pair of triggers.
Compared with MOGA's original Pocket controller, PowerA also managed to add a set of shoulder buttons. A microUSB port sits in the center, and a single button resides on the rear of the controller to toggle backlighting on and off.
The controller is bisected by a glossy panel emblazoned with an orange MOGA logo that draws the eye. The panel flips open, revealing an On/Off switch and a long polycarbonate arm. The arm can expand up to 3.2 inches to accommodate a number of Android phones, including our massive Samsung Galaxy Note II.
The MOGA Pro also comes with a MicroUSB cord.
Click to EnlargeFor those who prefer gaming on a larger display, such as an Android tablet, PowerA includes a foldable stand, so you can prop your tablet up on your desktop. The black plastic stand is lightweight and sturdy, and easily supported a variety of 10-inch Android tablets. When we were done playing, we quickly folded the dock and placed it into our tablet sleeve.
MOGA Pivot app
The MOGA Pro connects to Android devices running version 2.3 or higher using Bluetooth. However, before we could pair the controller to our Samsung Galaxy Note II or our Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, we had to install the free MOGA Pivot app.
Once the device is paired, the app acts as a content aggregator, listing all of the compatible titles. We were pleased to see a number of popular titles from Gameloft and Nvidia's Tegra Zone, such as "Dungeon Hunter 3" and "Shadowgun: DeadZone." The games are also broken down by category (Free, Pro Optimized, HID, Arcade & Action and Sports Games).
At the moment, the MOGA Pro currently supports 64 game titles. PowerA says it's constantly expanding the list of compatible titles.
The app also manages all of your paired controllers, refreshes your catalog and redeems offer codes. Speaking of which, PowerA includes a code for a free game, redeemable in the app with the controller.
Pairing the MOGA Pro to our devices was quick and painless. After launching the MOGA Pivot App, we slid the On/Off switch into slot A and waited 5 to 10 seconds for the devices to pair. Once the controller was paired, we selected our game and began to play. You can only use one controller with a paired device at a time.
For games that aren't MOGA-compatible, such as ""Zen Pinball," the controller features HID (Human Interface Device) Bluetooth mode in slot B. HID mode lets gamers use the MOGA Pro to play games that aren't optimized for use with the controller, and could potentially be used with other non-Android devices such as PCs.
Click to EnlargeCompared with relying on obtrusive touch-screen controls, the MOGA Pro controller made titles such as "Dead Trigger," "R-Type" and "Dark Incursion" a lot easier to play.
The face buttons gave us strong feedback and stood up against our fevered mashing. The shoulder buttons and trigger buttons also delivered strong feedback. Our favorite parts of the controller were the dual analog sticks, which have a slight indentation that comfortably cupped our thumbs.
The controller held its own during "Dead Trigger" as we mowed down a few waves of the undead. There was a hint of latency on the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, but the Note II gave us a seamless performance. The analog controls could be slightly tighter, though; we had a little difficulty lining up headshots.
When switched to HID mode to play "Zen Pinball," the gameplay was relatively smooth. However the latency was more pronounced (1 to2 seconds) when we were trying to use our flippers to keep the pinball in play.
Despite the added weight of the Galaxy Note II, we comfortably played games with the MOGA Pro for two hours. The positioning of the arm helps to offset the additional weight.
PowerA claims that the MOGA Pro controller's rechargeable battery can get between 12 to 15 hours of battery life. During our testing, the controller was still going strong after more than three hours of play.
Click to EnlargeThe MOGA Pro controller is an attractive peripheral that makes gaming on an Android device more enjoyable. While a little bulky, it offers quick, responsive console-style controls. Though its price tag of $49 is a little steep for casual users, mobile gamers will find the MOGA Pro controller well worth the investment.