Monday, May 16, 2022

Hori Split Pad Pro Attachment review: I’m not attached

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You may already know about Hori’s $59.99 Split Pad Pro, which re-imagines the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con controllers as if they were jacked up at the gym. Hori launched the controller a few years ago together with Daemon X Machina. It’s made for those with big hands, or rather anyone whose hands feel cramped using the Switch’s included controls. Like Joy-Cons, the Split Pad Pro slides into the sides of your Switch, but it’s about twice as wide, thicker, and has ergonomic handles and contours. Every button, trigger and stick is bigger and therefore easier to operate. With those changes, the Switch feels like an entirely different (and better) console to play on the go.

Since Hori debuted in late 2019, Hori has released several colorways, but this week the company launched an all-new accessory. It’s called the Split Pad Pro Attachment, which bundles the Joy-Con-esque gamepads with a wired USB connection that allows them to be used with your Switch while it’s in docked mode.

The headphone jack is mounted on the bottom of the attachment, with buttons to control the volume close by.

The appendix has seen light on additional features: the price of $79.99, beyond giving a wired controller option. It offers a headphone jack and there are buttons to adjust the volume or mute the microphone of your headphones, if there is one. That’s really the whole pitch for this new bundle, and oddly enough, the attachment can’t be bought separately.

There’s little reason for current Split Pad Pro owners to feel compelled by the confirmation, but it’s more appealing to new buyers. Although, if you spend more time using the Switch on the go than the dock, I’d recommend just buying the gamepads to save some money. For such a pricey accessory, it feels limiting to be connected to the Switch via a cable, not to mention the fact that headphones will dangle another cable between you and the TV. And depending on your gaming setup, the nearly 10-foot cable may not be long enough.

Hori would probably make the valid argument that the $79.99 price is equivalent to the cost of buying a set of Joy-Con controllers. Still, the Split Pad Pro pads themselves are seriously compromised in terms of features when compared to Nintendo’s Joy-Con. They can’t work wirelessly (as in, while disconnected from your Switch), and they lack rumble, NFC for Amiibo and gyro aiming for games that support it. (Although each has a reassignable paddle on the back for when plugged directly into your Switch.) As for customization, the paddle on the left gamepad can be mapped to any function on the left Split Pad Pro, except the minus and screenshot buttons. It’s similar on the right, just omitting the plus and home buttons.

But despite its flaky value, I enjoy using the Split Pad Pro Attachment – largely because of how good it feels to use. If you love Nintendo’s wireless Switch Pro controller as much as I do, this Hori controller nicely emulates it as a comfortable full-sized gamepad. The Split Pad Pro’s analog sticks, triggers and buttons feel just as responsive as Nintendo’s, with the added benefit (or annoyance, depending on the person) that they’re wired and never have to charge.

Hori Split Pad Pro Attachment

The Split Pad Pro remains an excellent purchase, with large buttons and comfortable handles.

Hori Split Pad Pro Attachment

The attachment cord is about 3 meters long, which may or may not be suitable for your gaming setup.

Oddly enough, I also liked using it as a PC gamepad to play games like Elden Ring† In that game, I didn’t mind the lack of vibrations of this product. Steam recognized it right away, and if you can get past some face buttons that don’t match what’s on the screen, it’s a seamless experience – at least in terms of controls. Although the attachment can increase or decrease the volume in Windows, audio pass-through with the headphone jack will not work. It’s hard to call that a flaw in a product intended more as a Switch accessory, but it’s disappointing nonetheless.

Whenever I showed the Split Pad Pro Attachment to people in our office, the first joy became confusion when I explained the price and how little the attachment itself is capable of. It would be a slightly different story if Hori added it alongside the Split Pad Pro for a smaller price difference. But as it stands, the Split Pad Pro pads are the only essential aspect of this bundle, not the attachment.

Photography by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

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