Ratings: Ease of Use, Performance: 23/25, Look amp; Feel: 25/25, Features amp; Software 23/25, How much I enjoy 24/25
If anyone had told me that a gamepad controller with a fan in it to keep my palms from getting sweaty was something I would enjoy using or made sense I would have laughed. Now the ones who are laughing are the innovative designers at Logitech who must undoubtedly play many video games themselves to continue to think up the design and use features that many of their products continue to show.
Logitech has released a new gamepad controller that is full speed USB compatible for the PC. This Vista ready controller now brings the advantages of gamepad controllers to the PC with all its user friendly features. The ChillStream has two analog sticks, the point of view hat switch, four main right hand buttons and four triggers buttons, two regular buttons and two push triggers that are great for acceleration controls. There are also two control switches and the Vista guide button in the middle of the controller along with the player indicator around the Vista button.
Holding the controller your hand nestles into the comfortable grips with vents near the fold of meat by your thumbs, along the sides and underneath to blow air across your hands. The thumbs naturally take a position on the gaming controls on the top of the ChillStream to control the analog stick on the left and the four buttons on the right that are all programmable according to the game your playing. Some games will already have these set but for others you may need to configure your ChillStream controller for them.
A fan inside the ChillStream gamepad with vents coming out from the top, sides and bottom of each side of the controller give a cool and comfortable stream of air to the parts of your hands that get the sweatiest. You’re cool and comfortable when you’re playing the most intense and action filled games. The fan has two speeds; interval and high with the control and indicator button on the front below the left analog stick.
I tested out the ChillStream on several games and was surprisingly pleased with the control and natural feel of the gamepad in my hands. I thought I was not going to like using a gamepad because I have tried to play a few games using one for the Xbox but found it very hard to switch from my computer keyboard and mouse rut and move on to the new console controller revolution. I was surprised at how much the game type has such a large part to play in the enjoyment and ease of using a gamepad controller.
For some games it is very natural and for others it will probably take some getting used to. For the Lego Star Wars II that my sons recently received for Christmas using the Logitech ChillStream was a joy. The game is obviously a port but it is so well made and enjoyable that using the ChillStream made the gameplay even more fun and certainly easier. I also tried it out with a flight game and was also surprised at how well the analog stick moved my plane in IL-2 Forgotten Battles. Of course it was not quite as good as a regular flight control stick but the ChillStream gamepad was pretty good and handles the flight simulation game very well.
Another game that made full use of the ChillStream’s two analog joysticks and several buttons and triggers was Star Trek Legacy that is another port from the console version. In Star Trek Legacy you use two separate controls, one for the ship control itself and another for the camera to view around your ship. Using the ChillStream made the two separate controls very easy and natural compared to the two separate controls using the mouse and keyboard. Your ship and camera movement were so much better with control and response using the ChillStream compared to a mouse keyboard combination.
I really like the fan with its two speeds and whisper quite interval speed when you want to catch all the gaming experience. I found that when on the high speed you can hear it but after playing in a game you don’t notice the noise. It’s not loud enough to hear over the games theme music or sound effects but you can hear the fans high speed noise when you hold the controller at a comfortable height in front of you. The interval speed is a different noise than the high speed but is also not that noticeable during gameplay.
The fans noise was the only negative thing I could find about Logitech’s ChillStream gamepad. I found the installation of the drivers took a minute or two and went as smooth as could be. The disc for the driver is on a 3″ disc, it’s kind of cute actually. I have only seen a couple of other discs this size but it does make sense to only use this size disc if the software fits on it.
Holding the controller is very natural and it feels good in your hands, even the rubber coated plastic is nice to feel on your fingers. The ChillStream gamepad is rubber coated plastic on the bottom with smooth plastic on the top which makes sense. The bottom needs to be smooth and yet non slippery so you don’t loose your grip and the contours on the bottom of the gamepad help with this. The bumpy rubber on the two analog sticks also helps you hold the sticks as you move them while playing.
The ChillStream’s point of view hat switch was very handy and worked smoothly while playing Lego Star Wars II. There are a couple of scenes that you drive little cars and you have no reverse on these vehicles. The cars along with the other action on the screen is in eight directions with angles and using this rocker switch helped get the vehicles to steer correctly because you had to run over floor switches to activate the particular device in the scene. Many games I have been playing lately have this eight angle view and movement direction, especially ones that are ports and it is especially nice to have precise control in them.
The ChillStream is a very good gamepad controller and has some very nice features. I particularly liked the rubber coatings and feel of the gamepad in my hands. The fan is a nice touch and I did find that it helped when I was playing a video game for awhile. I really thought this would be a useless feature but for people who play video games for hours on end it will be nice to not have to stop and wipe off my hands every so often.
I know there are games that I will use the Logitech ChillStream with that I own now and I am sure that there are other games that I will be getting in the future that the ChillStream gamepad will be perfect for. The Logitech ChillStream is worth the low price and full of great features for the average gamer as well as the more serious, okay, intense gamers.