The capacitive touch capabilities of today's devices are perfect for a great many things -- but traditional gaming just isn't among them. When it comes to "fixing" gaming controls on touch devices, there are two avenues of approach, and SteelSeries is headed down both of them: touchscreen augmenting nubs, and wireless gamepads. The firm lumps both of these solutions into its new "freedom to play" line of accessories -- and though both of them echo products we've seen before, these peripherals play their roles exceedingly well.
SteelSeries Free Mobile Gaming Controller hands-onSee all photos
The SteelSeries Free Mobile Gaming Controller (announced at CES as the Ion), for instance, is one of the smallest dual-analog gamepads we've ever palmed -- and it doesn't sacrifice much for its diminutive size, either. The $80 Bluetooth controller's PlayStation-esque layout falls naturally below the users thumbs, and feels remarkably uncramped for its size. Its jutting lower edge can dig into the users palm a little, but acts as a solid brace to keep the tiny controller in place. Moreover, the ergonomic hiccup is forgivable once one slides the pad into a pocket - weighing almost nothing and comfortably sharing pant-space with the HTC One X.
If you prefer skinny jeans, or just have a tighter wallet, SteelSeries offers an even smaller tactile solution: Free Touchscreen Controls. These little capacitive transference nubs simply stick to the front of your touchscreen device and touch the screen for you, offering an easily removable simulation of a real controller. As we said before, this isn't a new idea, but it's well executed, and felt about as close to a real controller as any tiny nub could. The $20 set comes with three stick-on buttons and a suction-secured directional slider -- though the latter was unfortunately absent from our demo. The above controller, however? You can see it in all its analog glory in the video below.