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Old 09-10-2017, 02:01 PM   #1
momaka
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Post GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller review

Last year, I bought two of these AfterGlow Pro controllers (blue and green). At the time of buying, however, I couldn’t find a coherent review anywhere on the Internet, much less an in-depth one. Thus, now that I’ve used them a bit (I played the entire game, The Last of Us with these), I think writing a review on these – even a non-professional one like mine - may be helpful to someone that is wondering if they should buy one of these or not. So here goes that.

I’ll start with the good aspects. Starting with visuals, the see-through plastic used for the top part of these controllers makes them look attractive. The buttons have a smooth finish while the palm grips and analog joysticks have a matte, rubber-like coating. Here are two pictures of the top and bottom:



In terms of ergonomics, these controllers felt comfortable in my hands during testing. Moreover, since they are wired (thus lacking a battery) and also don’t have Shock motors/vibrators, they are quite light-weight. And because they are wired, there is no need to worry about a battery running out during your game sessions.

But unfortunately, that is about all there is to the good aspects. Now for the bad ones… I don’t even know where to start here. But let’s continue with the visual aspects for now. While these controllers look very cool during the day with their bright LED lights, they are an eye-sore to use at night or in a dark room – quite literally! The LEDs inside these controllers are not angled very well (if at all), and so both of my controllers were emitting strong light through the see-through case in all sorts of random directions. With the internal reflections of the clear case, there were quite a few angles where the LED light was directly beamed towards my eyes. I was using the green controller at first, as I thought it would be less annoying, but both were equally irritating. After playing through the The Last of Us for a couple of hours late one night, I quickly got fed up with these controllers and resorted to removing pretty much all of the LEDs in the green controller before I deemed it acceptable. With all of the LEDs in it originally, it was just too bright. Worth noting here (at least for the technical folks) is that each LED is connected to the 5V USB power bus individually through a 200-Ohm series resistor. This is why the LEDs were so bright. Technically, I could make the LEDs dimmer if I change the resistors. But in the end, I didn’t feel like bothering with that and just removed them altogether.

So here is how the green controller looked like in the dark originally before I removed its LEDs:

https://www.badcaps.net/forum/attach...1&d=1505073453
https://www.badcaps.net/forum/attach...1&d=1505073453
https://www.badcaps.net/forum/attach...1&d=1505073453

Moving away from visuals, I would like to add as a final note on that matter, that while the controller case looks nice, one can tell it is a cheap controller if looked upon closely. In particular, the plastics of the top and bottom parts of the case don’t line up too well, thus giving the controller a “rough” feel. The USB cable that connects the controller to the PS3 also feels cheap, as it is very stiff and will remain in an ugly shape.

And now for the most important part: the mechanics/ergonomics.

I’ll start with the analog joysticks, as they are probably the most notable aspect in regards to the quality (or lack thereof) of this controller. The analog joysticks feel cheap (and they are!), as one might expect from a cheap controller. In particular, their “analog” range is quite narrow, meaning there is a very small zone where the controller distinguishes the joystick as “slightly pushed” to “fully pushed”. Thus, aiming in shooting games like The Last of Us was not easy at all, as I couldn’t do any precise aiming. When I started the game, I decided to try it out on the Normal setting. But after struggling for an hour of gameplay (especially when I had to aim a weapon), it was obvious that I needed to switch the game to Easy mode, as there was no other way I would have finished it. (On Easy mode, the game has enemy aim-lock, so the PS3 pretty much does all the aiming for you once you point in the direction you want to aim.) However, I will also admit that I have never played a shooting game on a console before this, so my “noob” joystick skills made the issue even more aggravating. That said, even by the end of the game (when I got much more comfortable with the PS3 joystick), I still struggled with auto-aim off when I tried it a few times, as I still couldn’t do any fine aiming. So to sum up what I said about the analog joysticks: they are cheap. They may be okay for more basic games, but certainly don’t expect to get an enjoyable experience in shooter games.

Next item on the list are the L2 and R2 buttons. The L2 and R2 buttons on these AfterGlow controllers have a very rough travel and I could easily hear the springs grinding against the plastics inside the button. Moreover, it was possible to make the L2 and R2 buttons get stuck if not pressing them the right way. Fortunately, I was able to correct this issue by rubbing some machine oil on the springs and button plastics where they slid in the case. This completely dealt away with the L2 and R2 travel issues and the springs did not make loud clacking noises anymore. Of course for people that don’t feel comfortable with opening/servicing their stuff, the rough L2 and R2 buttons would be another issue they have to deal with.

But apart from the analog joysticks and L/R2 buttons, the rest of the buttons on the controller are alright, especially for the price range of these controllers. All of the regular buttons on the controller use rubber-dome switches. The rubber domes are a bit stiff and also a bit loud when being de-pressed and released. But they work reliably, so I can’t complain here.

Finally, here are several pictures of the controller disassembled.
https://www.badcaps.net/forum/attach...1&d=1505073453
https://www.badcaps.net/forum/attach...1&d=1505073453
https://www.badcaps.net/forum/attach...1&d=1505073453
https://www.badcaps.net/forum/attach...1&d=1505073453
https://www.badcaps.net/forum/attach...1&d=1505073475

In terms of electrical/internal built quality, these controllers are, again, not bad for the price they go for. The good thing is that both PCBs inside the controller are single-layer, thus making it easy to trace things and perhaps even do some mods (in my case, desolder the LEDs with ease). On that note, the controller’s plastic case does have provisions for two vibration motors. So if one could figure where to connect the motors on the PCB, the controllers could be modded to have dual-Shock technology. However, with the main controller chip being a COB (chip-on-board) encased in black epoxy, this would probably make user-modding much harder (if not nearly impossible).

So all in all, these GameStop AfterGlow Pro controllers are okay for the money. While they may not be suitable for playing sophisticated games (especially shooter games), they are certainly alright for basic games and/or just to have as a spare for testing PS3 consoles. On that note, and perhaps this may not be important to all games, but I forgot to mention that both of the AfterGlow Pro controllers I got did not come equipped with motion-sensing technology that the genuine PS3 controllers have. So one may have trouble playing certain games if they are dependent on that feature. Thus, if one can get a genuine PS3 controller for a decent price, I would certainly recommend going with that over buying one of these cheap aftermarket controllers. But other than that, I can’t say that my purchase of the AfterGlow Pro controllers was a bad idea. They worked okay and I was able to finish The Last of Us, so overall I am very happy.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller [green] (1).jpg (228.4 KB, 31 views)
File Type: jpg GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller [green] (2).jpg (227.7 KB, 30 views)
File Type: jpg GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller [green] - glowing (1).jpg (87.2 KB, 30 views)
File Type: jpg GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller [green] - glowing (4).jpg (104.1 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller [green] - glowing (3).jpg (125.5 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller [green] - glowing (8).jpg (105.5 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller [green] - inside (1).jpg (340.8 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller [green] - inside (2).jpg (274.6 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller [green] - inside (3).jpg (93.9 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller [green] - inside (4).jpg (101.1 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller [green] - inside (5).jpg (101.2 KB, 0 views)
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Old 09-10-2017, 02:12 PM   #2
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Talking GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller review - the back story

The back story behind my controllers...

So back in late August / early Semptember last year, I found a free PlayStation 3 gaming console on the side of the street. This was probably one of the most thrilling finds for that year, as I’ve always wanted to play the game, The Last of Us, but didn’t really want to buy a PS3/PS4 just for that (I’m not a fan of gaming consoles). So when I got that PS3 and found that it is working, I was super excited. But the not-so-exciting part was that it didn’t come with any controllers, or at least I couldn’t find them late that night when I picked it up from the street.

I went online (eBay) and started looking for PS3 controllers. Sure enough, there was quite a bit of a selection to choose from. The most popular were by far the fake/knockoff PS3 wireless/wired controllers. But reading the reviews and comments for those made me steer clear of them, as they seemed to have lots of problems and didn’t always work out of the box – a major show-stopper for me, as I bought The Last of Us used, and it got shipped to me in just a few days. I couldn’t be arsed to wait a month for a knockoff controller to show up from China only to find out that it may not work.

Thus, I began searching for other controller options. Found quite a few broken/as-is PS3 controllers, but they were going for around $20.
My thoughts: $20??? For a controller that may (extremely very likely) not even work? Unacceptable!

Further research reveled that $30 was about the cheapest I could find at the time for a used genuine PS3 controller, and that’s if I was lucky. While $30 is not bad, it’s still a bit high considering I got the PS3 for free and the game for around $13 shipped to my door. Not only that, but for $30, you can get a pretty darn good PC keyboard and mouse combo. Or even better: an Eagle Eye or similar adapter that lets you connect a regular USB keyboard and mouse to the PS3 – they were going for that much used anyways… if you could find one that didn’t sell out within 24-hours of the auction getting posted.

Thus, I went to my local GameStop and looked there. The guy at the counter asked me if I needed anything, and I explained. He replied, yes, we have PS3 controllers – you can get a “gently” pre-owned one for $60.


Me, like: !?!?!?! $60 for a USED controller????
Counter Guy: Yes. Unfortunately, they are in high demand due to Sony not manufacturing them anymore and etc…. Bla. Bla. Bla….
Me, again: Are you shittin’ me? (Okay, I didn’t actually say it like that )

So I went back home empty handed again. Then I started looking online once more. After some searching, I found several wired 3rd party controllers, all for less than $20. Unfortunately, most of them got bought out, so all that was left was a pair of used GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controllers for a suspiciously-cheap price of $4. With nothing else popping up, I decided to take a bite and get them. For $11 shipped to my door, it seemed worth the risk, even if they didn’t work. To my surprise, however, both of them turned out to be working fine. Actually, one of the controllers was pretty much brand new (if not completely new), judging by its cleanness and lack of fingerprints (the other controller was clearly used, though).

So, that's pretty much how I got the controllers above.

Last edited by momaka; 09-10-2017 at 02:19 PM..
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Old 09-10-2017, 06:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller review

Nice write up, momaka! I've enjoyed that read!

Just a little tip for regulating LED's better: look up NSI45030 or similar devices. Much better than a voltage dropping resistor.
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Old 09-11-2017, 06:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller review

Quote:
Originally Posted by CapLeaker View Post
Nice write up, momaka! I've enjoyed that read!
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CapLeaker View Post
Just a little tip for regulating LED's better: look up NSI45030 or similar devices. Much better than a voltage dropping resistor.
Oh cool, I didn't even know such simple 2-terminal devices existed before.
I think that may be out of the specifications for my circuit, though, as I only have 5V available to work with.

Also, with the current resistors in the controller, each LED is given approx. 10 mA of current ([5V USB BUS] - [3V BLUE LED DROP] = [2V across resistor]... so 2V / 200 Ohm resistor = 10 mA of current). Now imagine if I drove 30 mA through each LED instead of 10 - that would make the LEDs even brighter, and they were already scorching my eyes, lol.

I also have A LOT of SMD resistors (up until about two years ago, I still used to collect boards from CRT TVs, and those always have lots of useful components, including SMD resistors from the newer sets). So changing the value of the original resistors wouldn't have been an issue. But I like simple solutions: remove the LEDs and be done.

That said, I think I am going to try and mod the analog joysticks next (well, I don't know when, but it's in the plans). Most likely will try some resistors in parallel with the pots to see if that will give a less linear curve to the joysticks - i.e. one where the joystick has a wider analog control zone instead of acting more like a on/off button as it does now.

Another thing I would like to mention is that I tried connecting these controllers to my PC, and it recognized them just fine. In fact, I was able to play a few oldschool racing games like Need For Speed Porsche Unleashed with it and it wasn't that bad at all. Still, I prefer to use keyboard, as I am a die-hard PC gamer. Consoles, not so much.
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Old 09-12-2017, 06:12 PM   #5
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Default Re: GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller review

momaka, there are different led drivers available, different voltages and different current handling. These NSI's are already older and there are newer ones available. Look at the NSI50010, exact that what you need.

Go here: https://www.onsemi.com/pub/Collateral/BRD8034-D.PDF

and have a look at the fixed linear LED drivers.

I liked gaming consoles, but when the PlayStation came out with all 50 buttons on one controller, I gave up. Personally I liked playing on the PC with the keyboard and mouse. Having kids, kinda put gaming in the "off" position. Now it is more like: I am working and the kids are gaming. lol
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Old 09-18-2017, 10:03 AM   #6
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Default Re: GameStop AfterGlow Pro PS3 controller review

Quote:
Originally Posted by CapLeaker View Post
momaka, there are different led drivers available, different voltages and different current handling. These NSI's are already older and there are newer ones available. Look at the NSI50010, exact that what you need.
Yeah, I figured there'd be one for different voltages. But still, I only have 5V to work with, so I can't really do anything too complicated with that in terms of putting LEDs in series strings and whatnot (maybe 2 LEDs in series max, if they are red due to 1.7V drop). Thus in my case, using a resistor is just as easy as using those LED drivers. In fact, it's easier, as I have plenty of different types of resistors and can change them whenever I like.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CapLeaker View Post
I liked gaming consoles, but when the PlayStation came out with all 50 buttons on one controller, I gave up. Personally I liked playing on the PC with the keyboard and mouse.
Me too.
Moreover, with PC, you can remap buttons on your keyboard and mouse to whatever you like. On consoles, many games won't let you do that. And it's dumb that they can't take a mouse and keyboard directly. On the other hand, PCs will work with most console controllers.

So all those limitations are the reasons why I don't have love for consoles like I do for PCs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CapLeaker View Post
Having kids, kinda put gaming in the "off" position. Now it is more like: I am working and the kids are gaming. lol
Yeah, I can understand that. Though I don't have any kids, I can see how with work and kids, you'll only have so much time left for other stuff (that is, not much).

I barely play anything these days too. Often times a week or two will pass before I fire up a game, and even then I will just play for a few minutes to half an hour max. When I was working a few months back, sometimes after having a really tiring day, I'd fire up the occasional game after work just to wind down a bit. Worked great. But then other things in the house stated piling up, so I couldn't do that every day.

Last edited by momaka; 09-18-2017 at 10:04 AM..
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