The problems with infrared wireless controllers has always been the reliability of working correctly more than a few feet away from the main console. Another problem often occurs when an object (like your dog, cat, or significant other ) moves in front of the console and disrupts the signal.
The interesting thing is that the Airplay wireless controller has eliminated both of these gaming obstacles, and a lot of headaches along with them.
Eleven Engineering Inc., the makers of the Airplay, claim the controller will operate as far away as 25 feet, even without a clear line of sight. The secret is that the Airplay sends a signal via radio frequency instead of infrared. And we all know that your music is not interrupted when your kitten, illegally up on the kitchen counter, walks by the radio.
When I used the Airplay, I could hear my guns blazing on the television from two rooms away, an easy 25 feet, through two walls. Now I would not recommend playing a lot of games from two rooms away, kind of makes it hard to get a high score, but it is good to know that you can comfortably enjoy the freedom of a wireless controller without worrying about losing because of a brief interruption in your signal.
The Airplay is a little heavier than the standard Playstation controller, but well designed. Most notable are the tabbed quad triggers (L1, L2, R1, R2), which are much easier to hit than on the standard PSX controller.
It also features auto-repeat and programmable button modes, incase you really want to beat the crap out of your friends in Tekken. One thing that Airplay is missing is the dual shock feature, which would be nice, but might be a big drain on battery life.
Speaking of batteries, another interesting feature is the battery compartment. The Airplay is powered by one single AA battery and gets about 20 hours of play. That’s pretty good milage out of the single battery. However, the really cool thing is that the battery compartment is open on the top and bottom. As you push the fresh battery in the top, it pushes the old battery out the bottom. Changing batteries only takes a few seconds, unless you are like me and have to steal a new one from an old remote or camera. At E3 this year the folks at Airplay were chucking new batteries into their controllers like they were loading a shotgun, which might be a bit much, though it is a really cool feature.
There is also a safety guard for the battery compartment, if you have small children around. The guard will really add to your battery changing time. You need a butter knife and the strength of ten men and a goat to get the guard off. It’s safe from kids, but you won’t be getting a job in a NASCAR pit crew.
There is a "reload" light that supposedly indicates when your battery is running out. However, I had a battery die (some of those used camera and remote batteries don’t give too long a life) and the reload light didn’t flicker any warning at all. And it’s no fun to suddenly lose control of your character in the middle of a fight.
At a price of $40.00 the Airplay is a little pricey, but it is worth it for being superior to any other wireless that I have tried. Plus, it is supposed to be compatible with the Playstation 2, so it won’t be useless in a matter of months. I give it 4 out of 5 GiN Gems for meeting, or rather going through, all obstacles in its path.