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Steelseries Stratus Duo Controller Review

By Robert Baddeley on February 21, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Steelseries Stratus Duo Controller Review

The Steelseries Stratus Duo brings 2.4Ghz wireless and Bluetooth capabilities to the same controller, allowing users to seamlessly transition between desktop and laptop, Android and PC, or their preferred VR headsets.  But will it fit your controller needs?  Is it more Xbox One, DualShock 4, or a conflation of the two? Read on to find out more.


Specifications

  • MSRP: $59.99
  • Compatibility: Windows, Steam, VR (Oculus, Vive, Samsung Gear), Android
  • Cable Length: 1.8m / 5.9 feet
  • Connectivity: 2.4Ghz Wireless, Bluetooth 4.1, Wired-USB
  • Battery Type: Lithium-Ion 20+ hours
  • Range(2.4Ghz): 12m / 40 feet
  • Connector Type: Micro USB
  • Width: 150mm / 5.91 inches
  • Height: 110mm / 4.33 inches
  • Depth: 63.2mm / 2.49 inches
  • Weight: 245g
  • Box Contents: Controller, USB Cable, Wireless USB Dongle

I don’t have the exact numbers but know there are a number of gamers out there that have gaming PCs and laptops that they’ll game on as well.  As a person who prefers playing my RPG games with a controller (and not spending another $60 to purchase a second one) constantly re-pairing EVERY time I change between the laptop and desktop is considerably annoying.  That’s where the Steelseries Stratus Duo comes to the rescue with its 2.4Ghz wireless and Bluetooth capabilities.  This is just an example of a single use case.  With the ability to be used with Android this means you the Status Duo can be used with your favorite Android device - and mobile VR by extension (like the Samsung Gear VR) - in addition to your PC or Steam Link.  A cool feature that sets this Steelseries controller apart, to say the least, but a controller needs to be comfortable and usable.

The Stratus Duo feels nice in the hand, straight away.  I’ve always had an affinity for the shape of the Xbox One controllers and the Stratus Duo holds a similar shape.  That’s not to say DualShock 4 lovers (PS4) will be left wanting, however, as the d-pad positioning is more in line with the DS4 layout than the former.  The result, to me, is a remarkably comfortable controller to hold and operate.

The controller body itself is made from a durable feeling plastic with a mostly matte finish that has an almost rubber-like feel to it, but without that annoying finish that collects tons of fingerprints.  The triggers are a little stiff, which took a little getting used to, but also meant they were free from rattling that can be found on other controllers. The joysticks are about as stiff as my DualShock 4 controller, which considerably more than the Xbox One, with the Switch Pro (clone) controller falling somewhere in between.  The clicks on the thumbsticks gave me a bit of a surprise with how loudly they click - it’s actually a negative point in my book - they’re louder than any controller I’ve used before and even louder than a mechanical keyboard with blue switches.  In my opinion, there’s no reason for this level of noise.  From a style point of view, I’m inclined to give points for the all-black aesthetic - no room for fancy frills when you just want to get down to business with your gaming session.

While the Stratus Duo boasts a 20-hour battery life, it’s failed to mention that that life-span is in wireless mode, not Bluetooth.  While the battery life is still very respectable in Bluetooth (I’ve played 6 hours and still have half my battery) it’s worth noting that battery mileage varies depending on which mode you’re using, which is toggled back and forth by a switch on the front of the controller (pictured).  Also seen is a button for pairing the controller, illuminating the battery indicators on the face on the controller, and the on/off switch.  You’ll also notice that Steelseries chose to use micro-USB, a decision I can’t be on board with the rising era of USB-C - the last thing I need is another micro-USB device.

While I mainly used the controller to switch back and forth between my laptop and PC, I did get a chance to test it on multiple Android devices.  I was able to pair and use it flawlessly on a Pixel 3, OnePlus 6T, and LG G7 ThinQ, which leads me to believe that any other devices shouldn’t have a single issue.  As long as the games you want to play have Bluetooth controller support (I enjoyed some Evoland 2) you’ll be set to go.  While I didn’t have one to test, the Status Duo is compatible with the Steelseries SmartGrip for attaching your phone to the controller for your gaming sessions.

Final Thoughts

Not only is the Stratus Duo a solid controller option on its own but the combination of Bluetooth and Wireless (via dongle) is a brilliant move that makes it a must consider for people who game with a controller on multiple PC or Mobile like devices.  Being compatible with all the current VR systems, Android, Steam and PC may be a must in today's’ culture, but being able to be paired to two at once is a feature you just don’t see offered in today's’ market. 

Pros

  • Great shape and layout feels nice in the hand
  • Pairing to two systems at once is a game-changer
  • Great battery life in wireless mode

Cons

  • micro-USB is antiquated
  • Bluetooth makes a big hit on battery
  • Thumbstick clicks are annoyingly loud

The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.