MFi Controller Review: SteelSeries Nimbus vs Horipad Ultimate vs MadCatz CTRLi

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by MrTemple, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. MrTemple, Nov 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016

    MrTemple macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2013
    Location:
    Vancouver Island, BC
    #1
    (Edited to include the Horipad Ultimate)

    I've bought and tried the SteelSeries Nimbus, the Horipad Ultimate, and the MadCatz CTRLi.

    The MadCatz gamepad arrived first, and I used it for a week solid. It is a fine controller, few if any complaints. But since receiving the Nimbus, I hadn't touched the MadCatz, except to verify that I prefer the Nimbus. I sent the MadCatz back.

    When the Horipad Ultimate came out, I ordered it, and played with it for a while. I quite liked it, but it didn't work for me (felt too small in my largish hands), so I sent it back.

    Here are the objective differences I see, then below my own subjective opinions.


    Objective Differences
    1. Mad Catz CTRLi
      • Has a clip to attach your iPhone
      • Uses AA batteries (included, but BYO rechargables)
      • Left thumbstick is above the D-pad
      • Bluetooth 3.0 (theoretically worse latency than 4.0)
    2. Steelseries Nimbus
      • 40h battery life
      • Rechargable via lightning (not included)
      • Left thumbstick is below the D-pad
      • Bluetooth 4.0 (theoretically better latency than 3.0)
      • Has iOS companion app for firmware updates
    3. Horipad Ultimate
      • 80h battery life
      • Rechargable via lightning (not included)
      • Left thumbstick is below the D-pad
      • Bluetooth 4.0 (theoretically better latency than 3.0)

    Subjective Opinions

    1. The Nimbus looks great in my opinion. Slightly behind is the Horipad (though it's beautiful too). The MadCatz looks junky.
    2. The Horipad feels more solidly built than the Nimbus, which feels way more solidly built than the Mad Catz.
    3. The Horipad feels smaller. I buy L/XL workgloves, and it feels like the thumb controls are too low for my natural grip. Even short use of the Horipad made my hands crampy. Both the Nimbus and Mad Catz fit my hand much better.

    For me it was #3 that was the deal-breaker. If the Horipad fit my hand, I'd have returned the Nimbus and ordered a second Horipad Ultimate.

    Regarding Size

    Revisiting my subjective opinion that the Horipad felt small in my hands...

    This review had nice images of both controllers. The shots were close to scale, but I had to change them up a bit.

    Here's a gif with the images scaled roughly the same (matched up the wood grain). Of course slight changes in distance to camera, depending on the lens, would affect this image slightly, but they were *very* close to begin with.

    Here's a gif with the two now-scaled roughly the same controllers aligned as closely as possible, to compare size and button layout. I lined the controllers up to where they would fit in the palm of my hand.

    Looking at the gif of the two aligned, I notice two things:

    1. The Horipad has its buttons a little lower down, and closer to the palm of the hand than the Nimbus.

    2. The Horipad is a bit smaller in overall volume than the Nimbus.

    Both these things line up with my subjective opinion that the Horipad felt smaller in my hand. Each user's grip will vary of course, but the Horipad's buttons are definitely further outboard, which may not feel as comfortable to users with longer thumbs.

    This lines up well with my subjective opinion that the controller felt small.
     
  2. Che Castro macrumors 603

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    #2
    Nimbus is the way to go

    And is surprisingly comfortable
     
  3. err404 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    #3
    Keep in mind that MFI controllers require that most buttons are analog. So depending on an app, the face buttons a,b,x,y may not register unless you press a bit harder. I hope that it is not a build quality issue. I hate feeling a button click, but not register.
    I wish the MOGA Rebel would get an update. I prefer the asymmetric analog sticks and the flip out arm to hold your phone.
     
  4. APlotdevice macrumors 68040

    APlotdevice

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2011
    #4
    I really wish the Nimbus had a clipping mechanism for my iPhone. Without it it's unfortunately a less versatile controller.
     
  5. MrTemple thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 11, 2013
    Location:
    Vancouver Island, BC
    #5
    That's true. That's a big objective benefit for the MadCatz. I'll add it to the list above.
     
  6. MrTemple thread starter macrumors regular

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  7. thatanonymoususer macrumors regular

    thatanonymoususer

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    #7
  8. canny macrumors regular

    canny

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    #8
    Would you recommend to Horipad Ultimate for those with small-to-medium hands?
     
  9. 2010mini macrumors 68040

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    Jun 19, 2013
    #9
    You only mentioned the Nimbus as having an app to update firmware. Can the firmware on the others also be updated?
     
  10. err404 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    #10
    Maybe. Unless the Horipad actually needed an update, there would be no need for an app. So that may explain why there isn't one in the store.
    Outside of bugs found early in a device's lifecycle, controller firmware is rarely updated. So long as people aren't complaining of issues on the Horipad, I would not consider the possible lack of the feature as an issue.
     
  11. thatanonymoususer macrumors regular

    thatanonymoususer

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    #11
    I'd say it feels a bit bigger than the ps3/4 controllers, and it's a tiny bit more of a stretch for me. It's somewhere between the size of the PS4 and Xbox one controller sizes if you have those as a reference.

    It's around the same size as the Steelseries Nimbus even through it looks smaller in standalone pictures. I'll reference the above site again since they have a side-by-side picture in their Steelseries review: https://afterpad.com/steelseries-nimbus-the-afterpad-review/ . I'd have to say that I prefer the feel of a ps4 controller in terms of its size, and you can pair those to the mac really easily if you don't have an iOS or Apple TV that you would also like to pair to. The mac has had a pretty good history of liking PS3/4 wireless controllers since it has the drivers for it built in to the OS. It works really well with things like OpenEmu.
     
  12. MrTemple thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2013
    Location:
    Vancouver Island, BC
    #12
    Edited OP with the following:

    Regarding Size

    Revisiting my subjective opinion that the Horipad felt small in my hands...

    This review had nice images of both controllers. The shots were close to scale, but I had to change them up a bit.

    Here's a gif with the images scaled roughly the same (matched up the wood grain). Of course slight changes in distance to camera, depending on the lens, would affect this image slightly, but they were *very* close to begin with.

    Here's a gif with the two now-scaled roughly the same controllers aligned as closely as possible, to compare size and button layout. I lined the controllers up to where they would fit in the palm of my hand.

    Looking at the gif of the two aligned, I notice two things:

    1. The Horipad has its buttons a little lower down, and closer to the palm of the hand than the Nimbus.

    2. The Horipad is a bit smaller in overall volume than the Nimbus.

    Both these things line up with my subjective opinion that the Horipad felt smaller in my hand. Each user's grip will vary of course, but the Horipad's buttons are definitely further outboard, which may not feel as comfortable to users with longer thumbs.

    This lines up well with my subjective opinion that the controller felt small.
     
  13. canny macrumors regular

    canny

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    #13
  14. aawil macrumors 6502a

    aawil

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    #14
    I just got the horipad the other day, I'm happy with it. To be honest I haven't had a standalone gaming system since the original nintendo so I can't compare the controller at all. lol Now we need more games to make good use of it.
     
  15. ajforbes20 macrumors regular

    ajforbes20

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2011
    Location:
    USA
    #15
    Are there really ANY games at all that make use of it?
     
  16. aawil macrumors 6502a

    aawil

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    #16
    Modern Combat 5, for me it was unplayable with the siri remote. Although I don't think it's officially supported it works on into the dead which is nice because I hated how it worked with the stock remote. I'm hoping will se more games that make use of it soon. Some sports games would be nice.
     
  17. Richdmoore macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    Troutdale, OR
    #17
    I own 2 MFI controllers, a micro Mad Catz, and the PXN controller. The PXN controller is hooked up to my atv4.

    I prefer the Xbox layout to the PlayStation stick configuration, so that drove my decision vs the other controllers. Between the two, the full size PXN feels much better to use, maybe because it is bigger and more like the Xbox controllers in shape.

    Other than some crashing problems with MC5 (which I hope I solved with a delete and reinstall) Modern Combat 5 works much better than the awkward Siri remote controls.

    I do wish app developers would hurry up and do universal ports for their iOS games, but I think the requirement to have Siri remote controls mandatory has halted a bunch of these quick ports.
     
  18. APlotdevice macrumors 68040

    APlotdevice

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2011
    #18
    This app will list all the games that currently support MFi controllers: https://appsto.re/us/xyYdV.i

    (I wish apple would let us filter apps based on accessory support. Until then we're stuck with third party solutions)
     
  19. thatanonymoususer macrumors regular

    thatanonymoususer

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    #19
    My biggest complaint with the latest controllers (ip6 gamevice, horipad ultimate, and Steelseries Nimbus) is the d-pad. If I press straight down on the middle of a d-pad on my 3DS, GameCube PS4, or Wii U controllers, there is enough of a give left over to roll my thumb to press the buttons and get a nice bottoming out feel when it activates a button. This is how I imagine most people play games with a controller. With the MFi controllers, you can still roll a little bit, but all of the tactility is gone. You don't get the feel that the center is supported nearly as much as you do on other controllers. It seems to be a problem I see all the time on 3rd party controllers, but 1st party controllers seem to get it right.
     
  20. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2001
    Location:
    Denmark
    #20
    Nice writeup! Sadly, this means I have to think (Again) about which controller to get, as I had settled for a C.T.R.L.i. Unfortunately, no stores around me carry them for me to try them out. :(
     
  21. Cnasty macrumors 68020

    Cnasty

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    #21
    Is there a comprehensive list of games listed here or on a website that are console like? What I mean by that isn't in graphical performance or looks but the way the game actually flows from a standpoint of a beginning and ending with significant staging in between?

    I haven't dove too deep into the app store but games like Jetpack Joyride and Mr. Jump are fun and good time wasters but I want a game where there are levels, a story, and an actual ending like a console game if you will.

    This will make me buy a controller for the ATV and complete the experience and actually buy some games but I can't seem to find a good place to see games that suit this.
     
  22. thatanonymoususer macrumors regular

    thatanonymoususer

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    #22
    https://afterpad.com/appletv/
     
  23. Cnasty macrumors 68020

    Cnasty

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    #23

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