Xbox Series X|S Review: PowerA Spectra Infinity Enhanced Wired Controller

The PowerA Spectra Infinity gamepad has the same feel as a conventional Xbox controller, but it adds a three-zone RGB light show and programmable rear buttons in exchange for wireless connectivity.

PROS

  • High-quality construction
  • It has a similar feel to first-generation Xbox gamepads.
  • Attractive lighting display
  • Rear buttons that can be programmed

CONS

  • There isn’t a separate app for it.
  • Uncomfortable light modification

Gaming peripherals, such as mice, keyboards, and computers, frequently have RGB illumination. However, they’re uncommon in controllers, which distinguishes the PowerA Spectra Infinity Enhanced Wired Controller for Xbox X/S. This $44.99 controller has three lighting zones that look like Tron and allow for hundreds of color combinations. It has a similar physical feel to the normal Xbox controller and is compatible with PCs as well as current and previous-generation Xbox consoles. It also comes with programmable back buttons, which is always a plus on a third-party gamepad. However, customizing without an app is a little awkward.

Feels Like a First-Social gathering Controller

The Spectra has the same curves as the normal Xbox Wireless Controller and feels almost identical to it. The front panel is textured, somewhat glossier black plastic, while the back panel is smooth, matte black plastic. Of course, the control arrangement is conventional Xbox: dual analog sticks offset from one another, four face buttons, a direction pad, Menu, View, and Capture buttons, bumper/trigger pairs at the top, and a 3.5mm headset connection on the bottom. Instead of the directional disc on the Xbox Series X/Series S gamepad, the direction pad is plus-shaped like on the Xbox One controller. Even so, it has a familiar feel about it. It’s a comfy gamepad that you may mistake for a first-party Xbox controller until you notice the two flat Advanced Gaming Buttons on the back, which are positioned just where your middle fingers naturally rest.

Xbox Series X|S Review: PowerA Spectra Infinity Enhanced Wired Controller
Amazon

The Spectra and the Xbox Wireless Controller have major variances, as shown by further examination of the gamepad. To begin, between the direction pad and the right analog stick is an illuminated volume button for the headset jack. The gamepad’s rear has three-way trigger lock levers with Program and LED buttons between them, in addition to the Advanced Gaming Buttons. Because this is a totally wired controller, there is no battery compartment door; instead, a recessed micro-USB connector on the top edge links to a 10-foot fabric-covered cable with a breakaway joint and a USB-A socket at the end.

Add a few colored lights to the mix.

The major gimmick of the Spectra is only apparent as translucent gray borders around the analog sticks, direction pad, and face buttons, as well as a similarly translucent band running around the edge of the controller itself. When you plug in the controller, these boundaries light up in a Tron-style effect. Three zones and four colors, each with five hues and multiple brightness levels, make up this effect.

The light effect is eye-catching, and the range of colors allows you to customize the gamepad’s appearance. The light piping around the edge of the controller is a little less bright than the lights around the analog sticks, direction pad, and face buttons, but it still looks beautiful. Customizing those lights, on the other hand, is a bit of a pain.

There is no app for programming the Advanced Gaming Buttons or modifying the lights from PowerA. It’s simple enough to program the buttons: Press and hold the back’s Program button until the status light flashes, then press the input you want to assign to a rear button, followed by your preferred rear button. That is all there is to it. The light show, on the other hand, is a different story. To begin, push and hold the LED button on the controller’s top until the lights blink. To select one of the three zones, press right on the direction pad (the light strip around the gamepad, the left analog stick and face buttons, or the right analog stick and direction pad). Choose red, green, blue, or yellow by pushing one of the face buttons, then keep pressing the button to choose one of five distinct shades of that hue. Switch between solid lights and a breathing effect by pressing left on the direction pad, and adjust brightness by pressing up or down on the direction pad. Finally, push and hold the LED button until all of the colors lights flash to signify that programming mode is complete.

There are various alternatives available, but the procedure is not at all straightforward. You should have the instructions with you at all times as a reference. A gamepad configuration software with the ability to set and upload gamepad setups would have been a far better alternative.

Xbox Series X|S Review: PowerA Spectra Infinity Enhanced Wired Controller
Amazon

Gameplay That Is Responsive

The Spectra is compatible with Windows 10 PCs, Xbox One consoles, and Xbox Series X/S consoles. Because it’s a wired gamepad, all you have to do is plug it into a USB port and play. I primarily used an Xbox Series X to test the Spectra.

I saw little to no difference in analog stick tension, face button hardness, or direction pad precision between the Spectra and the Xbox Wireless Gamepad (though the plus-shaped pad is different from the eight-direction disc on the current Xbox gamepad). It merely has the feel of an Xbox controller, which is a solid start. The triggers are also responsive, but the trigger stops are a little more subtle than those I’ve experienced on other gamepads; the pull distance with the stops at the shallowest level isn’t all that different from the pull distance without them. The motion is still a little shorter, but it’s not by much.

With the Spectra, Hollow Knight felt quite responsive. The directional inputs all functioned properly, and I had no trouble bouncing on spikes with timed attacks or defeating any of the game’s early bosses, despite the glossy direction pad feeling slightly slick compared to the matte direction pad on the first-party Xbox controller.

On the Spectra, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 was equally enjoyable. When playing Hollow Knight, the analog sticks were as sensitive as the direction pad, and the springy face buttons and triggers allowed me to hit rather complicated combos with manuals, reverts, wall rides, and wall kicks.

PowerA Spectra Infinity Enhanced Wired Controller for Xbox Series X|S side
Amazon

Type Over Wireless Comfort

The PowerA Spectra Infinity is a solid wired PC and Xbox gamepad with an eye-catching light show. That sounds tempting if you don’t mind dealing with a cable. It’s a little pricy at $45 considering it’s wired, especially since there’s no app-based management and you have to configure the rear buttons and lighting effects manually. Even yet, it performs roughly as well as the $59.99 Xbox Wireless Controller, which is excellent praise for any third-party controller.

Even without configurable rear buttons, the Xbox Wireless Controller is still a viable standard if you want to stay wireless. The $179 Xbox Elite Wireless Controller is one of the greatest gamepads for Xbox and PC if you’re ready to spend the money. Meanwhile, the $49.99 Nacon Pro Compact might be the best fit for you if you have tiny hands, while it’s also wired and missing rear buttons.

PowerA Spectra Infinity Enhanced Wired Controller for Xbox Sequence X|S

PROS

  • Strong construct high quality
  • It feels almost identical to first-party Xbox gamepads
  • Enticing mild present
  • Programmable rear buttons

CONS

  • Lacks a devoted app
  • Awkward mild customization

The PowerA Spectra Infinity gamepad feels similar to an ordinary Xbox controller; however, it trades wi-fi connectivity for a three-zone RGB mild present and programmable rear buttons.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.


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