Sunday, September 24, 2023

Hands-on with PowerA’s new colorful pastel controllers for Xbox and PC

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When it comes to colorful controller designs, Xbox’s game has been popular for years. Since the Xbox One generation, Microsoft has released many fun variations on its controllers – including limited editions and the Xbox Design Lab – and this momentum has not slowed down with the Xbox Series X/S consoles. Meanwhile, the lineup of third-party Xbox controllers is more extensive than ever, and brands like PowerA hit budget-friendly prices with slick new proprietary colorways, such as the recently released pastel set of the $37.99 PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller for Xbox and PC.

Marshmallowy vibes for days. The controllers have smooth satin finishes on the front, lightly textured backs and glossy accents on the shoulders and bumpers.

Announced in March as a spring collection, these new pastels for the Enhanced Wired line include: purple camouflagelavender swirlpink lemonadepastel dreamand cotton candy blue† Pink lemonade seemed to be the clear winner at first with its sleek yellow-to-pink gradient, but now that I’ve seen and treated all five colors in person, I can officially declare cotton candy blue as the best look. It’s actually a bit more bluish-greenish sea foam than the name implies, but either way, it’s a bold yet soft monochromatic shade on this controller.

But all five pastel designs look great overall, with varied use of gradients, mottled patterns and/or two-tone contrast on the front and back, each giving a unique signature. Of course, it’s a shame that these controllers are still saddled with outdated Micro USB connections, but I’ll give PowerA some credit for at least opting for a white detachable cable to better complement the light and airy look.

I’d still love to see a brand new version of the Enhanced Wired Controller that finally upgrades to USB-C and maybe even squeezes a few more customizable buttons on the back without cluttering things up too much. But aside, there’s a lot to love about the aesthetics of these bright new colorways. The Enhanced Wired Controller has been our top pick for the best budget Xbox controller money can buy, thanks in large part to its very reasonable price, while capturing the essentials for a wired controller. I can’t say these new colors make a good thing better because they’re functionally the same, but they’re refreshing enough to make them feel improved in some way.

PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller (Pastels)

The PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller is a budget-friendly wired controller for Xbox and PC that connects via Micro USB and features two customizable buttons on the back. It is offered in many different colors and licensed designs.

These cool new pastels are now readily available at many retailers, and it won’t be a surprise if they start seeing their own discounts and sales, like many others in PowerA’s lineup. They’re a little breath of fresh air on a budget level, and they’re a fun addition to a summer of gaming with new local multiplayer games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge (a good reason to need extra affordable controllers as it supports up to six players on Xbox and PC).

Side-profile image of all five PowerA Enhanced Wired pastel controllers.

Some pastels have a contrasting two-tone look between the front and back.

Photography by Antonio G. Di Benedetto / The Verge

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