So the future of gaming is here! We’ve had Google Stadia which we reviewed here. Amazon announced its Luna game streaming service and of course we have Microsoft Xbox X Cloud game streaming. If you use any of these services on the go you’ll want a phone mount and a decent controller. Preferably that controller would be compact and have solid battery life. That is where 8BitDo comes in. If you’re looking for a decent controller you need to look elsewhere. This controller is so much better than decent, the word AMAZING comes to mind. This is the TLR Technology review of the 8BitDo Xbox SN30 Pro controller.
The D-pad is one of the best ever made in my opinion
I have to admit I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to controllers. I’m sure I have more controllers than necessary, but hey! I can give you, our readers, an honest opinion/ review of them so I’ll call it a win. I’m mentioning my collection of controllers to point out that I’ve held and used more than a few. With that said controllers are a personal thing. Some people like Xbox controllers more than PlayStation and vis versa, so feel is an individual type of thing. So take what I say about feel with a grain of salt. Your hands could be larger or smaller compared to my own. However, I don’t think hand size will hugely affect you much when using the Xbox SN30 Pro.
8BitDo is a company that has become well known rapidly for their fantastic controllers. Many of which are designed with retro styling. The Xbox SN30 Pro is a tweak of the SN30 Pro. The SN means Super Nintendo, and if you are familiar with Nintendo’s console the resemblance in shape should be immediately obvious.
Other than its retro styling 8Bit Do controllers pack a ton of functionality. As an example, the SN30 Pro can connect via Bluetooth to Android, PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch. You get all of this at what I’d consider a more than fair price. The Xbox variant is built around Android and will only work when paired with and Android device. In return, you do have access to remap and swap most buttons and triggers from the controller. You can adjust trigger pull distance (did anyone say hair triggers) and analog sticks but you will need to adjust this from a PC or Mac.
That Phone Mount Though
Before we go in-depth with the remote let’s talk about the included phone mount. It uses a dual-pivot/hinge design which is drastically different from the single hinge, single angle that most clip-on controller mounts provide. This allows you to adjusted your viewing angle which helps reduce glare and increase visual clarity. The second hinge allows the phone to be moved to better balance the phone over the SN30 Pro controller. This increases comfort and reduces the stress/ strain that will occur over time on the longer gaming sessions.
In my testing, I was able to get my Pixel 4XL to balanced over the center of the controller so well that I felt like I was just holding a weighted controller. It didn’t feel like the controller wanted to tilt forward or backward. When you get the balance just right you know it, and it makes a difference. This is something that you just can’t do with the basic clip-on style phone holder for Xbox remotes… Though I do like the feel of using my full-size Xbox remote if I’m lounging in the hammock at home, However, when I’m out or on a trip, the 8BitDo has become my go-to.
One last thing about the phone clip. I noticed the notches for the clip are also molded into the SN30 pro which I used to play X cloud while waiting for the Xbox version to arrive. The reason I mention this is if you have an SN30 already and don’t care about the analog triggers you could potentially just buy the clip and play X cloud or mobile games without the need to prop up your phone on something. Hopefully, 8BitDo releases it separately for purchase soon for customers that already own the SN30 Pro.
What’s In The Box
The 8BitDo Xbox controller comes packaged in a full-colored box that lets you know exactly what your getting. 8BitDo worked closely with Microsoft to create the controller designed specifically to work on android and X Cloud and the packaging clearly points it out. Inside the box, you immediately see the and the double-jointed phone clip that I mentioned above. Under the remote, you’ll find the instruction pamphlet and under the clip, you find the USB C to USB A charging cable… Yep, it charges with USB C as everything these days should be.
The 8BitDo Xbox SN30 Pro Controller
Let me say that the SN30 Pro is one of the best 3rd party controllers that I’ve ever used. I won’t go as far as to say that is my favorite of all time that goes to the Steam Controller (That’s another story though) but the SN30 is a close 2nd. The 8BitDo Xbox controller follows the SN30 Pro closely in form factor and quality but it makes some sacrifices while adding some incredible customizability.
This leaves me in a hard place, which I’ll attempt to explain. First, let me just take a second to say that I thought the feel in my hands was going to be small and awkward. However, I was wrong. Personally, I found that it took very little time to get used to. I would say that it might be more comfortable than playing the Nintendo switch handheld, or very close to that feeling. Again take that with a grain of salt, as feel is going to be a personal thing.
SN30 Pro Vs Xbox SN30 Pro
The original SN30 Pro (looks like a Super Nintendo controller) connects to nearly everything on the planet. The SN30 Pro connects to Nintendo Switch, Windows, Android, Mac OS, Steam, and Raspberry Pi. This is fantastic because the SN30 Pro has one of the best D-pads ever made… Period. The connection is rock solid in all my test. The buttons and analog sticks feel premium and are fantastic, especially for the compact size of the controller. What I’m getting at is the original SN30 Pro is very close to the one compact controller to rule them all.
The D-pad makes playing emulated retro games on the Raspberry Pi feel better than ever. Connecting the SN30 Pro to windows makes a great second controller when playing local co-op games like Battle Toads, or Over Cooked. Connecting to the Nintendo Switch makes it one of the best 3rd party controllers available for it and the D-pad makes Nintendo platformers just that much better. If that wasn’t enough you can connect the SN30 Pro to Android and play X cloud, though you won’t have analog triggers.
All of that above is why the SN30 Pro ranks so high on my favorite controller list… But that’s not the Xbox version, it only connects to Android…
Noticed that I made the ” But” big above because that is a big but. The reason is while the Xbox SN30 Pro only works on Android which to be fair is the only way to play X Cloud on a mobile device ups the ante by providing the ability to use the 8BitDo Ultimate software. The Classic SN30 Pro can’t so while you are sacrificing some connectivity you gain button remapping, analog triggers that can be customized, along with the analog sticks.
8BitDo Ultimate Software
As you can see pictured above the Xbox version of the SN30 Pro controller has access to 8BitDo’s Ultimate software. Until now that has been reserved for the larger more expensive SN30 Pro+ controller. The Ultimate software allows for all control buttons, analog sticks and triggers to be remapped. Looking at the lower right corner of the image above you’ll see the option to make the triggers digital. By default, the Xbox version of the SN30 Pro triggers are analog. This allows for modulation which is very valuable in racing games like Forza. The Classic version of the SN30 does not have analog triggers, it only has digital. This again makes me wish the Xbox version of the controller would worked on windows. The analog triggers would make the Xbox version a great back up remote for playing Forza on PC.
The above image shows the power of the Xbox SN30 Pro when used the Ultimate software. You can adjust the dead zone of the analog sticks as well as their endpoints. You can also invert either analog stick independently from each other. If that wasn’t enough you can swap the analog sticks left to right. The most exciting feature is the ability to swap the left stick with the D-pad. This is game-changing not only because the D-pad is one of the best ever made but for playing platformers that don’t support the D-pad by default.
The most useful feature for me is the ability to adjust the trigger pull of the analog trigger. Looking at the image above you can see the trigger on the right has the pull length to roughly 50%. What that means in shooting games I can fire my weapon in half the time of my opponents. You don’t have to stop there though. You can reduce the trigger pull to nearly nothing. The result would be similar to hair-trigger mods on something like a Scuff controller. Impressed yet?
While I wish the Xbox version of the SN30 Pro could connect to all the devices the classic can the trade-off is worth it. Analog triggers make playing racing games feel like they should. The D-pad is one of the best ever made in my opinion. It’s arguably better than the D-pad found on the Xbox controller from Microsoft. Bluetooth connection has been rock solid with no hiccups. You get 16 hours of usage per charge, and it charges over USB C.
The included phone clip is one of the best that I’ve used for attaching a phone to any gaming controller. The double hinge design makes adjusting the phone for balance and viewing angles easier than ever. It really is hard to find fault 8BitDo’s Xbox SN30 Pro. I think if you looking for a portable option for X Cloud and you don’t want to pay the $100 for the Razer Kishi this is the controller for you. If carrying the full-size Xbox controller isn’t a problem for you it’s hard to find fault with a cheaper phone clip.
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