This morning I spent a little time with PowerA to check out the company's new MOGA controllers for Android and Windows Phone 8. As previously announced, the company has completely redesigned both the Mobile and Pro controllers with improved ergonomics, improved Bluetooth radio and a better smartphone grip. They also have the ability to allow four units to connect to one Android device, but I couldn't get the company to admit how that is accomplished. Apparently it's a secret.
The biggest feature change with these two new "Power Series" peripherals is that they are capable of recharging a mobile device whether the user is playing MOGA compatible games, or simply needs a power brick while on the go. Both devices pack a built-in rechargeable battery, a microUSB port and a full-fledged USB port. A possible scenario would see the controller plugged into a wall outlet for recharging while in turn a smartphone would be connected to the controller to recharge its own battery in the process.
On the mobile front, the most obvious difference between the previous and new model is in the control layout. The analog sticks are taller and thinner, and provide a click functionality. The action buttons aren't quite so embedded, and the start button has been moved over to the right side to make room for a D-pad on the left side (which wasn't even available on the original unit). A row of LED lights are now included, serving two functions: the amount of charge the built-in battery is holding, and the number of controllers in use (up to four). There are also two additional shoulder buttons.
Changes to the Pro controller seem to be a bit more visually cosmetic in nature, removing the "rippled" surface for a smoother finish. It also received the same changes to the action buttons and analog sticks, and also sports same the column of four LEDs on the right side. The device even has a connector on each side of the on/off switch that will eventually support a recharging dock, and a better "arm" – along with the new mobile version -- for cradling larger smartphones with huge protective covers (which was a big complaint with the previous models).
On the first-generation MOGA Pro controller, the company supplies a three-position switch that turns off the controller, switches it into Bluetooth HID compliant mode, and non-HID mode – this wasn't even offered on the mobile version, limiting its compatibility with a number of Android games. The two new controllers arriving this fall will automatically switch between the two Bluetooth modes without the need for manual user intervention.
The models I saw at the show were prototypes, but as it stands now, they're definitely more comfortable than the first generation. I'm still curious as to how the company is managing four devices to work together on one tablet or smartphone: it likely has something to do with Android 4.3's Bluetooth Smart support and a way these controllers can communicate with each other. The company promises better Bluetooth connectivity too which is a good thing, as I saw lag even during CES 2013 in January before the first MOGA mobile controller hit the market.
PowerA's new Power Series controllers arrive this fall, and as previously stated, will support Windows Phone 8. There will also likely be support for Apple's iOS 7 platform in the near future thanks to Apple's new love for controllers.