Review: SteelSeries Stratus Duo Controller for PC, Mobile, and VR
The SteelSeries Stratus Duo is definitely not the first Bluetooth controller SteelSeries sent out in the wild. What makes the Stratus Duo unique and convenient is both its 2.4GHz wireless connectivity with the PC and its lack of necessary setup or software installation. You either connect the controller to an Android or supported VR device via Bluetooth, or simply connect the wireless dongle to a PC, and you are off to the races. Without any sort of manual installation, the controller simply starts working on any of these platforms. You only have to configure button settings game by game if necessary.
SteelSeries Stratus Duo Specifications
|Cable length||1.8 meters / 5.9 feet|
|Connectivity||2.4GHz, Bluetooth v4.1, or Wired USB|
|Battery Type||Lithium-ion (20+ hours)|
|Range||(2.4GHz)12 meters / 40 feet|
|Connector Type||Micro USB|
|Width||150mm / 5.91 inches|
|Height||110mm / 4.33 inches|
|Depth||63.2mm / 2.49 inches|
Pretty much any controller-supporting mobile or PC game out now already has button configuration defaults in place. Therefore, you can literally start playing with the Stratus Duo right off the bat. When connected to the PC via the 2.4GHz USB dongle, the PC automatically recognizes and treats the controller as a traditional Xbox One controller. Controller-supporting Steam games are also ready for the Stratus Duo, where A is A, X is X, etc is etc, and even the bumpers and triggers are the same as they would be on an Xbox One controller. Best of all, that 2.4GHz dongle gives you the best, no-lag and most-stable wireless connection possible with your PC.
The Stratus Duo sports a solid build, featuring handling and button placement that is pretty close to that of an Xbox One controller. However, it also uses the kind of parallel, or side by side, analog stick placement you’d see in a PlayStation controller. Otherwise, the front facing buttons, A,B,X, and Y, as well as the bumpers and triggers feel right at home with any Xbox One gamer. You also have Back and Start buttons, a big center button that brings up the Xbox menu when on PC, and four LED indicators on the front. The four LED indicators let you know which player, from Player 1 to Player 4, the controller is currently assigned to.
Being a lover of fighting games and side-scrolling beat-em-ups, any controller I vet has be on par with a certain level of comfort and latency. Most important that D-pad has to be on point and comfortable to finagle. On PC, I connected the 2.4Ghz dongle, hooked up my PC to the living room TV, set Steam to Big Picture mode and reclined on the couch.
I played King of Fighters (multiple versions) and tried out all of my favorite combos of yester-year. The D-pad, didn’t take too long to get used to, leaving me with a solid and seamless fighting game experience. Button press actuation to on-screen response time felt tight and crisp, allowing me to enjoy all kinds of arcade titles comfortably and without lag. I especially liked how I could use the large center button, just like I would on the Xbox One, to record Steam gameplay thanks to Windows 10. The console experience on the PC was perfectly achieved with the SteelSeries Stratus Duo.
Mobile Gaming (via Samsung Galaxy S10)
Moving onto mobile, while Bluetooth won’t give you the kind of wireless connectivity integrity you’ll get via the 2.4Ghz wireless PC dongle, the SteelSeries Stratus Duo still performed without a hitch. If latency was there, I did not feel it. I started off small and simple with a high-speed platformer classic, Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The response time was on point, even in the bonus levels. Whether it was muscle memory or not, I had no problems collecting all of the Chaos Emeralds and getting the “good ending”. Pretty straightforward given its simplistic controls.
Next, I had to go with a game that let me properly try out the dual analog sticks. So, I went with the first person shooter, Modern Combat 5. After inverting the Y-axis, as I do in any FPS I play, followed by some sensitivity tweaks, the game played like a charm. Aiming felt both comfortable and natural with the Stratus Duo, whose thumbsticks had excellent grip. The game played so well, it made me wonder why anyone would dare play it using touchscreen alone. So, where Sonic 2 demonstrated speed and response, Modern Combat 5 showcased the Stratus Duo’s accuracy.
Lastly, I had to end it with a proper fighting game. I connected my Samsung Galaxy S10 to a nearby Samsung 50-inch TV, wirelessly via Samsung Smart View. I then booted up Street Fighter 4 Championship Edition for Android, and of course connected the SteelSeries Stratus Duo. I even turned off special move assist for the closest to natural Street Fighter 4 experience. With the Stratus Duo connected to my S10, running Street Fighter 4 and streaming it to a TV, I was pretty impressed with how my little ad-hoc mobile gaming scenario played out.
Not only did the game stream well, but I was able to pull of some of my favorite Dudley combos with ease, using the Stratus Duo. Hard to show with still images, but I pulled off my favorite meter-burner as if I was playing on the Xbox One (jumping HK to standing HK to EX Machine Gun Blow into crouching HK into Dudley’s Ultra).
Sadly, I did not have access at the time to use the Stratus Duo in a VR scenario, but I cannot image how different the experience would be as compared with using the controller in a first-person-shooter. You connect the controller to your VR device via Bluetooth and simply have at it.
In the end, the SteelSeries Stratus Duo is nothing short of a success story as far as wireless gaming controllers go. The Status Duo’s build is solid and comfortable to use, regardless of the genre of game you are playing. I would have liked the controller to come with a phone grip, but at least SteelSeries sells their Stratus-compatible SmartGrip for a reasonable 10 bucks. I imagine that this allows them to sell the Stratus Duo at a competitive price for PC gamers while leaving the door open to mobile gamers that prefer to play on the go. You do not have to buy what you will not use, so to speak.
Coming in a price that is on par with many current gen console controllers, at $59.99 the SteelSeries Stratus Duo is a solid purchase that I would suggest for any PC gamer. The 2.4GHz connectivity promotes excellent response times within 40 feet of distance. The controller then spoils you in mobile gaming, where you just may never want to play serious games using touch controls again. Looking to do some wireless gaming on your PC or favorite mobile device? Check out the SteelSeries Stratus Duo for yourself here.
† SteelSeries Stratus Duo review unit provided by SteelSeries PR for review purposes.