Xboxaddict.com Article


Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra Wireless Controller Review

by Kirby Yablonski


Specifications:


  • Bluetooth: Android Devices, Windows PCs & supported Smart TVs with Bluetooth

  • Wired: USB-A Wired Connection to Xbox, and Windows PCs

  • 3.5mm audio port for stereo audio output & microphone input

  • Product Weight: 246g / 0.54 lbs

  • Connectivity: Wireless USB-A Transceiver

  • Lag-Free Wireless Technology

  • 30-Hour Battery Life with Adjustable Power Modes

  • Connected Command Display for Extensive Settings Adjustments

  • AntiDriftTM Thumbsticks for Long-Lasting, Smooth Control

  • Tactile Microswitch Buttons for Faster, More Reliable Response

  • Hard-Shell Case with Charge-Through Capability

  • Four Mappable (‘Trigger Like') Quick-Action Buttons

  • MSRP (in Canadian dollars): $279.99 plus applicable taxes



Turtle Beach is a company with a long history making peripherals for gaming consoles and PCs. As time has passed, they have managed to release some feature packed high-end products for gamers of all kinds. Most recently they brought a new controller for the Xbox/PC market. The Stealth Ultra Wireless Controller can clearly be categorized as a competitor for Microsoft's Xbox Elite series of controllers as well as other third-party programmable controllers. I have spent the last 5-6 weeks putting Turtle Beach's new controller through its paces. Why so long you ask? Well, I have used many different high-end Xbox controllers over the years, and I wanted to give the Stealth Ultra a fair chance. Please note, I only focus on the console aspect of the controller. So, what did I think? Well, you will just have to read on.


There is no doubt that the Stealth Ultra's sticker price in Canada is expensive, as it retails for $279.99 plus applicable taxes. But when you consider what companies like Microsoft, SCUF, Razer, Victrix, Asus ROG and more charge for their higher end controllers, you should be aware of what to expect to pay. So, what makes the Stealth Ultra stand out from the others? Well, it has an LCD screen built in, it has Hall effect analog sticks to eliminate any stick drift, it has built in RGB, it can connect to a PC/Mobile/Xbox app (yep, three different apps), and it has a decent battery life... if you keep your use of many of it's social and connectivity features in check.


When I opened the shipping box that the controller arrived in, the retail packaging did feel premium. In the box you will find a carrying case for the controller, a charging dock, a USB transceiver, four thumb pad covers, a USB to USB-C cable (10ft/3m), an instruction booklet, and of course the controller itself. The carrying case, which also can double as a charger via pass thru of the USB to USB-C cable, is quite durable and sturdy. You will feel safe carrying your pricy new controller which rests snugly amongst the soft velvet-like material inside.

One of the things I found unique, and surprisingly thoughtful, was the charging dock has a USB port that you can attach the USB transceiver into, allowing one less USB port on your Xbox to be used. Given that there are only three USB ports on the Xbox to begin with, this is a very smart feature and a good solution to saving USB ports for other things, like headphone receivers, charging cables, and more. Oh, and did I mention how easy it is for the controller to rest onto the charging pins? Simply go to put the controller on the dock and magnets will snap it into place with no fiddling to put the controller on the charging pins.

You may remember I mentioned that the Stealth Ultra has an LCD screen. And upon gazing upon the 1.4-inch colour display, I have to say that it caught me off guard, and in a good way. Utilizing a built-in controller menu, you can manage all the controller settings and connectivity without having to go to a separate menu on your PC or Xbox. It took me awhile to get used to it and a few readings of the instruction manual, but man, once you get the hang of things, it is so convenient. From turning the controller RGB on/off, changing the colour and pattern of said RGBs to customizing button set-ups (it does have four buttons on the back for custom use), choosing a controller profile, to connecting it to your phone and displaying social media notifications. There is a lot that this controller can do, but it comes as a price... battery life, which I will touch on later.



The usability of the Stealth Ultra is damn fine. Yes, I just said that. It is quite light when compared to other speciality controllers as it weighs in at 246g. For example, the Elite Series 2 weighs in at 345g, the SCUF Instinct Pro weighs in at 270g, and the Razer Wolverine V2 weighs in at 275g (without its cable attached). The Stealth Ultra's light feel caught me off guard, given that I was used to playing games with my Elite Series 2 controller, and when I made the switch to the Stealth Ultra, I was like "WTF, this feels weird!". I have since become quite used to it and prefer it over all my other controllers at this current time.

The A,B,X,Y buttons, as well as the bumper buttons, are mechanical, which are precise and have a ‘click' to them. Their travel distance is not as deep as regular controllers, or even some third-party controllers, which allows for quick and instantaneous response. The triggers on the Stealth Ultra have hair trigger adjustments. With a simple slide of a button by each trigger, you can shorten the distance you need to pull to activate the action to which each trigger is assigned. Personally, I found the travel distance of the trigger lock somewhere between the SCUF Instinct Pro and the Elite Series 2. The D-Pad included on the Stealth Ultra looks a bit out of place design wise, but upon using it I found the clicking nature and responsiveness quite good. You will have to adjust to the new home and menu/back button placement given there is now a screen in the middle of the controller, but it does not take too much time to adjust to this. You still have the ‘share' button which is lower given the home button was moved to accommodate the screen.



We cannot forget about the Hall effect analog sticks that are included, as this is big selling feature in my honest opinion. I had to look up the actual definition of "Hall effect" by searching the good ol' Googles and I am paraphrasing the official explanation here. Hall effect joysticks use magnets and electrical conductors, and they never touch. Given the fact that there is no physical contact when reading the position of joysticks, they do not wear out as quickly as traditional joysticks. A review of available information online indicates that it would take decades for a Hall effect joystick to wear out comparatively.



I have only had the controller for about 5-6 weeks, and the analog sticks continue to feel great. They are not adjustable in terms of tension, nor are they swappable, but I can say the tension is like standard feel for a regular controller. To date, I have put a lot of gametime in with them with no issues. Turtle Beach also includes four thumbpad covers (2 different patterns) for the analog sticks. Sure, this is not the same and being able to swap out the standard stick for taller or shorter ones like some higher end controllers do, but it is nice to have a bit more area and texture for each stick. Who knows, in a future evolution, maybe there will be swappable joysticks, but I do not know if they would be able use the Hall effect sticks if they were to do this.

On each side of the controller, there is a textured surface. It does not feel like the rubber surface employed by the Elite Series 2 or SCUF Instinct Pro I have at home (the latter which now has major drift effect, and I do not use it anymore). It feels more like a hardened rubber, as it is not plastic, that I am sure of. It is comfortable and does not slide around in my hands. Something else I noticed when checking out the controller close up prior to use, are that the bumper and triggers are fully textured on the front, which unbelievably, really feels like it helps on the grip when using them for their various in-game functions. It is kind of hard to describe, but the texture works quite well and there are no such things on the SCUF and Elite controllers I have at home.

The Stealth Ultra has a 3.5mm audio jack. This is a feature that many may want to explore as it allows you to adjust many settings on the fly. You can use the built-in equalizer to find one of five settings including signature, bass boost, bass & treble boost, voice boost, and superhuman hearing. I tend to use the signature setting as it is my belief that the audio folks at Turtle Beach know what they are doing given they make great headsets. The superhuman hearing setting is for all the serious FPS players who want to hear all the detail of their adversaries footsteps, loading of guns, etc., for that competitive edge. You can also adjust your in-game volume, game chat volume, as well as the game chat/in-game sound mix, all from your controller. If I could best compare this to anything, it is like the Astro Mixamp M80 that you can buy and connect to your controller. I honestly believe that incorporating more then just volume control into a high-end controller is a great idea which Turtle Beach managed to do quite well.



Some individuals will wonder why the Stealth Ultra uses its' own USB transceiver and not connect directly to the Xbox. I cannot answer this question; however, I can say that the 2.4gHz transceiver did not pose any issue during my time playing. Button presses, analog stick movements and trigger squeezes did not seem delayed, nor did they have any communication issues. Being able to put the transceiver into the charging dock was a smart idea, as it just perfectly fits it its own spot.

When the Stealth Ultra was first released, there were issues with using the various apps (PC/Mobile/Xbox) that are used for programmability and customization of the controller. As time has passed, there have been updates for the controller and the charging dock firmware. For me personally, I use the Turtle Beach's Control Center 2 app on my Xbox console, as I have had next to zero issues using it. You can customize your buttons, adjust your trigger and analog stick dead zones, fiddle with the RGB settings and more. And of course you can also save up to ten individual profiles. It is a seamless experience on the console.

So, everything is all rosy... right? Well, not really.

Turtle beach claims for up to 30 hours of battery life. I admit that I did not get that kind of number. For me, in terms of my usage, I managed to hit around 20 hours or so, but this was with some of the features turned off (e.g. RGB & phone connectivity to name two), and I can only assume that by turning off more features, which you can, you can improve the battery life. The RGB flashes red when the controller is almost ‘dead.' From this point you have a bit more playtime but not a lot. Once you put the controller on the charger though, your wait for a full charge is not too long. I watched the red RGB change to yellow quite quickly, and the green RGB lit up less then 2 hours to indicate the controller was back at full charge (in my case, it was 1hr, 40min).
The other issue worth noting here is the connectivity, use, and display of social media messages. The feature, while enticing, feels like it is not fully flushed out, at least during my review time. Sure, general messages from the various supported Android Apps (Discord, Facebook, Instagram, Outlook, Threads, Twitch, X (formerly Twitter) and the Xbox App) may pop up, but they were not consistent during my time reviewing. It is my hope that they manage to work everything out in this area, as it is a big selling point for those gamers who like to stay connected.

The Stealth Ultra is a very solid programmable controller that deserves any gamers attention. Sure, there have been some hiccups along the way, but Turtle Beach has been actively addressing the concerns of customers with quite a few updates since launch. The controller feels great in your hands, the use of Hall effect sticks to eliminate stick drift is a huge plus, and the audio controls that are at your fingertips are handy to say the least. I found that the RGB not overkill while the ability to adjust and program functions using the LCD screen and buttons, even while playing a game, lifted my overall view of the Stealth Ultra. On the downside is the inconsistent social media messages and the battery life not being true to the claims. In terms of the latter, the charging dock manages to ‘refuel' the battery in quite a brief time and if you are impatient, plug in a USB to USB-C cable and charge it while playing. While the price of admission is quite high, the features, quality and user experience make the Stealth Ultra Wireless Controller worth it.

***A retail unit was supplied to the writer by Turtle Beach for the purpose of this review***

Review Score: 8.9 out of 10





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