When pictures of the PlayStation 3 first broke cover, the console was coupled with a very bizarre looking controller – some likened it to a boomerang, others thought that it looked like a croissant. But that proved to be a false alarm, since a few months later Sony revealed that the PlayStation 3 controller would look almost identical to the PlayStation 2 controller, which itself was pretty much an exact copy of the PlayStation 1 controller.
Of course in reality the PS3 SixAxis controller is very different to its predecessors, despite looking like it was separated at birth. The most obvious difference is that the SixAxis connects to the console wirelessly using Bluetooth. Of course having a wireless controller is far from groundbreaking these days, since both the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii ship with wireless controllers, but the PlayStation 3 is the only console that won’t have you rummaging around for AA batteries on a regular basis.
Whereas both the X360 and Wii controllers are powered by standard AA batteries, the SixAxis is a rechargeable unit. You can charge the controller using the supplied USB to mini-USB cable – I always like to see standard cables being used, so if you lose the bundled cable just grab any other USB to mini-USB cable. Sony quotes around 30 hours of playtime between charges and I wouldn’t dispute that. I’ve been amazed at how long the SixAxis has gone between charges, and I usually find myself hooking it up to a USB port more out of habit than necessity.
The first thing I noticed about the SixAxis is how light it is. Picking up an X360 controller after using the SixAxis does feel like a chore, despite the fact that I think that the X360 wireless controller is superb. Further investigation shows some more significant changes over the old PS2 controller. First up is the PlayStation button, which acts as an override switch, allowing you to quit games, drop back to the XMB, and even switch the console on and off. In short, the PlayStation button on the SixAxis is pretty much an exact copy of the Xbox button on the X360 controller – but hey, if Microsoft has got it right, why try something different?