Bottom line: With its ergonomic shape, long cable, extra buttons, and colorful lighting, the PowerA Spectra is a perfect controller for any Nintendo Switch owner.
Wakes Switch up
8 color lighting
Extra back buttons
No motion control or rumble
Lighting isn't equal everywhere
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There are so many Nintendo Switch controllers out there to choose from that it can be a daunting task to choose one. However, some brands, like PowerA, are officially licensed and stand out above the rest.
I recently had the chance to test the PowerA Spectra Enhanced Wired Controller for Nintendo Switch and I was very pleased with it. It offers fun lighting which sets it apart from many other controllers and it works incredibly well too.
PowerA Spectra Enhanced Wired Controller for Nintendo Switch: Price and availability
The PowerA Spectra Enhanced Wired Controller has an MSRP of $34.99; however, it is often found selling for less on Amazon. For instance, it was selling for 20% off on Amazon at the time of this review. It only comes in the one casing color, but the RGB lighting offers eight different colors to spice things up: red, green, yellow, orange, red, pink, blue, and purple. All in all, it sells for a very good price when you take into consideration all the features it offers.
PowerA Spectra Enhanced Wired Controller for Nintendo Switch: What's good
From the moment I held the Spectra in my hands, I knew I wasn't going to have any problems with my hands cramping up or gripping the controller. The soft-touch finish on the top casing gives it a really nice feel while the ergonomic shape offers a sturdy hold. It really is one of the best Nintendo Switch controllers you can get if you like wired options.
|Category||PowerA Spectra Enhanced Wired Controller for Nintendo Switch|
|Connectivity||Wired, 10ft cable|
To test the responsiveness of the buttons and joysticks, I played Metroid Dread, which relies heavily on quick reactions. Everything responded beautifully and the buttons pressed in just as I expected them to. It should be noted that like many other third-party controllers, this one doesn't offer rumble or motion controls, so if you plan on playing games that rely on those functions, this controller won't be as useful.
This being a wired controller, there is no internal battery. The included cable must be plugged into the Switch dock's USB port in order for the gamepad to function. My couch is a decent distance away from my TV, but the 10-foot cable the Spectra comes with more than long enough to accommodate me. Strangely enough, the end of the cable that connects to the controller is the older micro USB connection rather than a USB-C, but it still works well. The only real problem I faced while using this wired controller was keeping my kitten from attacking the cord as it stretched across the room.
In addition to the normal joysticks and buttons, this controller features four additional buttons on the backside. For starters, there are the AGR and AGL buttons which can be remapped to any other buttons on the controller for easy access. By default they don't have any functions out of the box, so you don't have to worry about them doing anything unless you specifically assign them to a function. To do that, all I had to do was hold down the Program button on the back for a few seconds, select one of the normal buttons on the front, and then tap in the AGL or AGR button to assign it.
There's also an LED button on the back which, when pressed, cycles through the controller's eight different lighting colors. If you press it again after that, the controller filters through all of the colors instead of just sticking to one. I was happy to find that I could also turn the lighting off if I didn't want it on.
One unique thing about the Spectra is that it has a headphone jack on the bottom, which allowed me to plug a wired headset into it. The sounds came through well and I didn't have any issues while using my headset.
PowerA Spectra Enhanced Wired Controller for Nintendo Switch: What's not good
There's really only one thing that I didn't like as much about the Spectra. The lighting around the buttons and joysticks shows up really well, but the lighting running around the outline of the controller comes through weakly in certain areas and doesn't give an equal experience the whole way around. Otherwise, this controller worked beautifully and as you'd expect from a controller made by PowerA.
PowerA Spectra Enhanced Wired Controller for Nintendo Switch: Competition
Would you rather have a colorful RGB Nintendo Switch controller that has an internal battery for wireless use? If so, you'll want to check out the PDP Afterglow Wireless Deluxe Controller. Its clear case shows off the controller's inner workings. Plus, it's officially licensed by Nintendo and has a great weight and layout, perfect for adult hands.
If you like the look of the PowerA Spectra but don't necessarily need the colorful lighting, then there are plenty of other controllers to choose from. I highly recommend the PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller since it feels great in your hands and comes in a number of Nintendo designs, including themes for Zelda, Pokémon, Mario, and more.
PowerA Spectra Enhanced Wired Controller for Nintendo Switch: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want a controller with colorful lighting
- You want something that is responsive and reliable
- You're looking for an inexpensive official Switch controller
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You want a wireless controller with an internal battery
- You're looking for something with motion controls and rumble
- You'd rather have something with Nintendo designs on it
As far as wired Nintendo Switch controllers go, the PowerA Spectra is a fantastic choice. The fun colorful lighting gives it some extra spice while the wired connection prevents it from becoming too expensive. I especially appreciate the extra-long 10-foot cable, which provides plenty of room for most TV to couch setups.
The only thing that I didn't like as much was that the colorful lighting didn't have the same presence in all areas around the controller, but this is hardly a deal-breaker. Of course, if you don't want to deal with cables, you'll be better off grabbing a wireless controller with an internal battery.
Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.
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