GamingTech

The Luna Controller – Best in class Device

luna controllerluna controller

The Luna controller is Amazon’s controller designed specifically for Amazon’s (currently in beta) cloud gaming service by the same name. Since I was invited into the closed beta for the cloud streaming service, I decided to dive in fully. This meant buying this new controller at the discounted price of $49.99. The main selling point of this new controller is that it connects over WIFI to directly connect to the Amazon gaming servers. This is to reduce input lag by 17 to 30 milliseconds when compared to a Bluetooth connected controller.

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To give the quick breakdown, here are the highlights

The Controller feels good. This might as well be an Xbox One controller. The layout and physical shape make it easy to confuse with the console controller

Gameplay feels the same if you are used to the console controller. The difference between the console controller and the luna – the buttons have a plateau at the top where the xbox controller’s buttons are rounded. The middle buttons also feel more stiff on the Luna controller.

Price – Too much. There’s not enough noticeable difference between using the Xbox One controller and the Luna controller. Currently you can pick up a gen2 Xbox One controller for about $45 USD. When the Luna controller becomes publicly available the price tag is set to start at $69.99 USD.

Unboxing

The Luna controller arrived in a beautiful purple box sealed with Amazon’s easy open seal.

The Luna controller sits in the box snuggly on top of two included “AA” batteries ready to be paired via the Luna Controller smartphone app

The Luna controller strongly resembles the Xbox One controller.

The Top view of the controller shows off the USB-C port for connecting via a wire (not included) to your PC or Mac

The bottom view shows off the solo 3.5 mm audio out jack for connecting headphones to the controller

The Feel

This controller really, really, really looks like an Xbox controller so it should come as no surprise that it also feels like an Xbox controller. There are a few subtle differences. The buttons are what stood out most to me. The A, B, X, and Y buttons are positioned and sized like the Xbox controller.

Where they differ is the Luna controller’s buttons are flat at the top, where the Xbox controller’s buttons are round. This gives the Luna controller more of an edge (physically speaking) to the buttons. The two middle buttons (not including the giant home button) on the Luna are similar to their counterparts on the Xbox controller. The difference here being the depth of the button press. While the Xbox controller feels like you are pressing the button into the controller, the Luna buttons only give about half the distance before making contact with the control board housed inside of the plastic. This is not bad, just different.

Details Please

I played with the Luna controller in a few different scenarios. The first was on a known bad wireless network. Of the 4 bars my system displayed, I was only filling two. I know the quality of the network at that specific location was bad, so it was a good chance to test Amazon’s recommendation of excellent WiFi connection for a good experience with the service. I played Three games which I felt offered a varying degree of demand on the controller and service.

The first was Contra. Being an NES original game it did not take a lot of bandwidth to move this 8-bit game. In Short the game play was flawless without any lag spikes and the controller worked like a champ despite warnings of network issues in the Luna program.

Next I played Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. This game was slightly more demanding on the graphics stream and required a better response time based on enemy interaction. Again the controller worked flawlessly. The stream did see one hiccup with a lag spike, but seemed to quickly recover.

The final game I played was Metro Exodus. This game required a high level of stream for graphics as well as precise reactions for the First Person Shooter aspect of the game. There were lag spikes and input could have used better response time, but the game played much better than I thought it would.

After changing to another network, which is a more difficult than it needs to be process, I retried each game. Now on a gigabit internet connection, I found that all three games performed flawlessly with great response time. There was no variation between the same three games. It was as good as playing with a wired controller.

The Luna Controller App

The Luna Controller App is how you manage your Luna Controller(s). Inside the app is the detail about your controller – the device name, network connected to, software version, serial number and a toggle for your preferred wireless connection mode (bluetooth or WIFI). Here is where you would change the wireless network you are connecting the controller to. My one experience In this saw me having to reset the pairing on the controller to get it to accept the new network. If you have other amazon devices (Echo or Fire) and have configured Amazon to remember your wireless networks, you will not have to enter credentials to get your controller connected to the wifi.

I assume that the option of owning more than one of these controllers is for some random diehard Amazon fanboy who just discovered pc/console games with the release of Luna and only owns the Amazon Fire Cube. I’m having a hard time pulling together any logic as to why someone would own more than one of these controllers. As much as I like the controller, I’m having a hard time understanding why someone would own one of these controllers.

A Gimmick Controller?

With all the testing I was able to do, I found that the Luna controller is essentially an Xbox One controller clone. The two things that separate it from its Microsoft counterpart are that the controller can be used over WIFI to play Luna games and when connected to a Fire TV device, the Luna controller has a built in button and microphone for accessing Alexa. Aside from these two features, I found that I could achieve the same results across PC, Mac, iOS and Fire TV using an Xbox One controller.

When I plugged the controller in via a (not included) cable, I found that I needed to install the driver from Amazon. Having been so spoiled by Microsofts Xbox controllers having built in support, I forgot that this was a thing that people regularly dealt with prior to Windows 7. What surprised me after the install was that the controller registered with my PC as audio hardware. This meant that I could use a wired 3.5 mm headset and set that as a possible audio input and output. While this really threw me because I had no audio in my game of Rogue Company, it was a welcomed thing once I was finally aware of it.

Summary

If you have the money to throw away and want a nice purple and carbon fiber black controller then this is the controller for you. At every other level, this controller is on par with an Xbox One controller which comes in typically $20 USD cheaper than the list price for the Luna controller.

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Red_Foxx15
the authorRed_Foxx15
Red_Foxx15 built his first computer when he was 10 years old. He's proved since then that he cares way too much about tech and will not shut up about it.

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