The Moga Hero Power controller
I didn't have a supply of controllers to match all the Gear VRs I borrowed for the party. Picking a decent, affordable controller out of the mess of options available online was a bit daunting. Luckily, Oculus has a list of supported controllers tucked away in an FAQ, and it helped me narrow my search significantly. It turns out that only a few brands and models of controller are officially supported by the Gear VR. The Moga Pro Power was on the list, but I couldn't justify buying half a dozen of them at $50 a pop. Instead, I took a chance and picked up the Pro Power's little brother, the $20 Moga Hero Power.
The gamble paid off. The Hero turned in what I can only presume is the same flawless performance that got the Pro on Oculus' officially-supported roster. The Hero has a flip-out phone holder that wasn't necessary for my purposes, but I did check that it's sturdy and holds phones securely for non-VR gaming. The USB charging port for the controller is located under the phone holder, as is the combined power and mode switch. For use with the Galaxy S6 and other modern phones, that switch should be set to "B" for Bluetooth. That setting automatically puts the controller into discovery mode, and it was a snap to pair it with the Galaxy S6. Unlike some older controller models, there is no need for additional software to make the Hero work.
There's also a full size USB port under the controller. The Hero comes with two Micro-USB cables and one of them, only a few inches long, is intended to be used with this port so it can charge your phone while you are playing. The internal battery in the Hero is just 1800 mAh. That's pretty respectable for a Bluetooth controller, but I was skeptical that it would be much help extending gaming sessions. I did some quick testing using a USB multimeter and confirmed my suspicions.
My PortaPow may not be an expensive, finely-calibrated instrument, but I don't think it's a fluke that all of the controllers I tested fell a bit short of supplying 5V to the phones I plugged in. That lead to a less than impressive 0.42A output, not quite the 0.5A trickle charge you'd expect from an old USB port and well below the full-speed 2.5 Amps I'd expect from a quality USB battery pack. Still, it's not a bad perk to have if you're in a pinch. Just don't expect it to charge the average phone by more than 25% or so.
The controller itself feels well built. It's heavier than you'd expect, and there's essentially no give or creak when you try to flex it. The buttons are located in the same position as buttons on an Xbox controller, but the entire layout is shrunken just a little bit. The buttons and thumb sticks feel good, and I found them to be appropriately responsive. I didn't feel like it ever missed a click. The triggers on the front are a little squishy, but they get the job done nonetheless. Compared to the Nyko Playpad Pro, another $20 controller we had on hand, I prefer everything about the Hero except for its triggers.
As the new owner of a bunch of these things, I wanted to see how the Moga Hero Power fared as a PC controller, as well. It paired over Bluetooth as a "Moga 2 HID" and showed up in Windows' game-controller settings as an "Android Controller Gen-2(ACC)." All of the buttons on the controller worked in Windows except for the trigger buttons—a pretty big problem for normal use. Windows sees the Hero as a Direct Input device, as well, so most games won't work with it natively.
That problem can be easily worked around by using a controller emulator. I used TocaEdit Xbox 360 Controller Emulator for my testing. I mapped the missing trigger inputs to the right and left bumpers before mapping those bumpers to the click of the analog sticks. It's not a perfect solution, but it worked quite well in Rocket League where the bumpers are only used for menu navigation. Overall, I'd rather use an Xbox 360 controller, primarily due to overall size, but the Hero should still make a nice addition to my laptop bag. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the remaining eight...
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