Nyko Wireless Air Flo Controller for the PlayStation 2 Review

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Company: Nyko
Platform: PlayStation 2

Nyko's latest controller combines two solid concepts. Nyko has already released a line of Air Flo controllers that run a constant stream of air through engineered grips to keep your hands cool. Now, Nyko combines that design with wireless technology to create a cordless controller for the PlayStation 2 that keeps your hands cool.

Kyle Ackerman

The Nyko Wireless Air Flo Controller for the PlayStation 2 is a solid controller. It performs both the wireless and "Air Flo" functions mentioned in its name admirably. The only question you'll need to ask yourself is: Is this controller too solid for your tastes? It works wonderfully, cools your hands through large, comfortable grips and even adds a nifty joystick function. The need for a large block that houses the batteries and the fan also means that the controller carries an enormous payload between and underneath the handles like a fighter carrying an oversized bomb.

First and foremost, this controller's wireless performance is solid. Even in an overcrowded electromagnetic spectrum that has crippled lesser (and cheaper) devices, the controls worked flawlessly and were as responsive as a corded controller. The controller comes with eight channels to communicate with the base station that plugs into the PlayStation 2, and while the channel controllers look flimsy, they functioned perfectly. The controller needs four AA batteries to keep it running (one set comes with the controller), but Nyko promises around 110 hours of use when not using the Air Flo features, or around 50 hours of use with the fan at maximum power. I can't vouch for the full battery life, but the controller has survived many hours of hard play with the fan on maximum power, and hasn't pooped out yet. It also automatically enters power-save mode when not in use. This may make you nervous the first time you set the controller down, as you wait to see the little green light fade, but rest assured – the power management function is robust.

It Has Air And An Optional Joystick

If you're interested in this controller, you don't care how long it will run without the fan. It's the Air Flo aspect that makes this wireless controller stand out from the crowd. The stream of air coming out of the grips is more than a gimmick – it actually makes long gaming sessions more comfortable. This wireless controller doesn't reach the higher levels of air power that the corded Air Flo EX is capable of, but since the lower settings are usually enough and much more quiet, the loss is small.

The controller introduces a detachable joystick that's surprisingly useful. The concept is that the controller can be set on a flat surface and the joystick and buttons used arcade-style for fighting games, for example. The joystick is too small to capture the feel of an actual arcade controller, but is actually quite useful in ordinary play. I found that the joystick attachment never got in the way of comfortable access to the controls, and often made it easier to use the D-Pad (for tasks like weapon selection), as a flick of a finger sufficed, rather than taking the left thumb off the left joystick.

Comfortable Grip, But Learn From The N-Gage!

This does bring us to a problem – if you're anything like me, you'll find yourself taking off the joystick and putting it back as you change games. There is a storage space for the joystick, beneath the batteries. To put away or take out the stick, you need to remove and replace all four batteries. Hardware engineers should have learned from the N-Gage that nothing users want to swap in and out should require you to remove the batteries first. There are myriad other places the stick could have been secured, such as the grips or the outside of the battery casing.

Particularly as a gamer with larger hands, the bigger, rubber grips of this controller are more comfortable than the conventional Dualshock 2 controller. Unfortunately, the big block that houses the fan and batteries rests where your ring fingers might comfortably hover. That makes it more awkward to grip than its corded counterpart, but the lack of cumbersome cord evens the scales. Also, while the joysticks are comfortable and responsive (neither too loose nor too resistant), this controller doesn't have a rumble function.

If the idea of cool air flowing across your hands as you game doesn't appeal, there are other wireless controllers with a smaller form and no brick hanging between the grips. If cool air doesn't appeal, you probably also haven't tried an Air Flo controller. The Air Flo feature makes up for a lot, including the battery case. The controller comes with a recommended price of just under $50, a hefty price for a controller, but with a lot of functions. Except for the dangling box, this controller is more comfortable and reliable than cheaper controllers. Anyone passionate about the rumble function, and anyone reliant on cords to drag back controllers hurled across the room in frustration, won't like this controller. But if you haven't tried it, do. It may change the way you play forever. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay to the Nyko Wireless Air Flo controller for the PlayStation 2 is that I plan on testing the limits of its battery life – many times over.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on May 3, 2004 10:16 AM.

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