Ah, the joys of OnLive.
My OnLive experience began with the launch of the cloud-based gaming service, allowing me to play top-end games on my admittedly lacklustre PC. Things then got even more impressive with the Micro-Console, which allowed me to play those very same games on my large screen TV with a controller. It was all rather impressive, but nothing that I hadn’t seen before and, to be honest, my relatively slow Internet connection did present a few problems (mostly for other people in the house as I would begin screaming at them if they tried to watch a YouTube video, browse the net or check their email).
With the launch of OnLive for Android devices, these problems were partially solved. Streaming the games onto a smaller screen used up much less bandwidth, making the service much more usable for me. Whilst this gave me a decent gaming experience, I am not a fan of touchscreen controls, so it still was not perfect. Playing on my Xperia Play, with its slide out gamepad, worked alright, but the button mapping was fixed and not ideal. Besides, the screen was just too small on that device (I know, there is no pleasing some people!)
An ideal situation would have been to play on my Motorola Xoom tablet, but with a gamepad. If only someone would release a Bluetooth gamepad specifically for the OnLive gaming service…
Lo and behold, the Universal OnLive Wireless Controller appeared, almost like magic. Looking and feeling exactly the same as the controller that is bundled with the Micro-Console, the Universal Controller comes packaged with batteries, a rechargeable battery pack, a charging cable and a wireless dongle so that it can be used with a PC. It also comes with the world’s vaguest instructions.
Consisting of what is only a couple of pictures, these instructions, which are surprisingly easy to follow, describe how to insert the batteries and then sync the controller with the wireless dongle. It’s all very minimalist.
But, as previously mentioned, this controller is also Bluetooth capable. This means that I can connect it to a variety of different Bluetooth devices (a list of tested devices is at the end of this article), including my Motorola Xoom. But at no point did the instructions tell me how to do this.
I know what you are thinking, it’s just a matter of adding a new Bluetooth device to my tablet. But for some reason, it was not that straight forward. It ended up taking me the better part of an hour to get the bloody thing to connect, and I still don’t really know how I did it. I can’t really blame the controller for this, as it seemed to be more down to the eccentricities of the Motorola Xoom tablet. It was still frustrating though.
Once I had finished faffing around, the controller worked perfectly. I was finally able to play some really high-spec games on my Android tablet using a controller. As with the Micro-Console controller, the gamepad worked perfectly well and felt quite natural in my hands.
Propping up the tablet in order to get the perfect viewing angle whilst using the controller with both hands still proves to be a bit of a problem, but that could just be me being picky. Really, anyone who uses the OnLive service, either through their PC or on a tablet, would do well to pick up one of these controllers. It makes the entire experience much more enjoyable and the fact that it can be used with a variety of different devices certainly makes it worth the £39.99 price tag.
So far, the Universal OnLive Wireless Controller has been tested with Acer Iconia Tab A500, ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and Toshiba Thrive.