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With mobile devices gaining computing power, the gaming peripheral brands are coming with controllers for the mobile platforms. Latest to the edition is SteelSeries Stratus XL. With this gaming controller, the manufacturers have tried to solve two problems – the gamepad tackles mobile gaming adeptly, pairing with Android devices and some media streaming devices.

Moreover, the controller also works with computers running Windows 7 or above that can pair with Bluetooth devices. Stratus XL uses a software engine that allows it to control an array of PC games. Stratus XL is an accomplished dual-purpose gamepad that can fill a unique place for the gaming enthusiasts.  

Stratus XL- Design

Measuring 4.4×5.9.1.7 inches (Height-Width-Depth) and weighing a solid 290 grams with two AA batteries, Stratus XL looks and feels like a home console controller. What the users will like more about it is that its controls are arranged in a PlayStation pattern, with curved analog sticks parallel to each other below the four face buttons (laid out in Xbox style) and the plus-shaped direction pad.    

The Menu, Start, and Back buttons sit between the analog sticks and there is a light indicator strip placed above it. The controller sports right and left triggers and buttons on top, with battery status and pairing buttons placed between them. The power switch sits on the back below the battery compartment. The battery compartment holds two AA batteries and a USB port for updating the controller’s firmware.

The Stratus XL is advertised as the gamepad that can last for up to 40 hours of gameplay experience on two AA batteries by the manufacturers. However, it is advised to turn off the controller after usage as the battery can get drained easily when not in use. The controller didn’t have an automatic sleep function that most controllers have these days. It means that leaving your Stratus XL on will significantly cut your play time.

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Stratus XL- Windows and Android Compatibility

The Stratus XL gamepad behaves like any standard Bluetooth gaming console that works well for Android devices. The device is also pair-able with Windows PC like a standard Bluetooth device. All you have to do is hold onto the pairing button until the light bar (indicator) flashes. However, to get the console to work with your PC games, you need to perform a few extra steps.

It is known that most PC games work best with Xbox One wireless controllers coupled as XInput, using the wireless Xbox Adapter for Windows.  However, to use third-party gaming consoles, particularly those that connect wirelessly without an out-and-out adapter, you are required to translate their inputs into XInput.

Fortunately, with Stratus XL, one doesn’t need to worry about the connections. Simply download the SteelSeries Engine software on your PC and install it. When you run it in the background, it automatically detects the controller and translates the inputs into XInput. This makes Stratus XL appear to your PC as an Xbox console. You only have to do this one time and the next time you power on your Stratus XL, it automatically connects with your PC.

Stratus XL- Gaming Performance

Skill-oriented games like Dark Souls III and Bayonetta that requires precise timing are excellent when played using Stratus XL controller. One could perform all the functions to navigate the menu and start playing. As far as Android gaming is considered, almost every game is playable of any gameplay using this gaming controller.

Stratus XL- Gamepad Feel

Stratus XL gaming console feels solid and sturdy, however, how it will treat your fingers, especially thumbs is a matter of taste. Although the flat face buttons are responsive, the spongier, deeper feeling actuation may take the fun out of it. For instance, one might find it uncomfortable while playing Bayonetta performing the torture attacks.

Overall, the smooth action of the analog sticks and the generous concave indention just makes it right for maneuvering.    

Final Thoughts

Console-quality gamepads for Android are hard to find and third-party controllers for Windows aren’t that great either. Luckily, the Stratus XL gamepad works for people outside the iOS ecosystem while pleasing the PC enthusiasts. Stratus XL is a versatile gamepad that can work both as your Android device controller and your PC gamepad. It feels good in hands and its ergonomic design and build quality make it appealing to anyone looking for a gaming console.   

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