Update: May 21, 2018
The gamepad is working fine, playing games both on android and on PC without any issue. Although I’m not sure sometimes it feels like the left stick sticks to going right for less than a second, it’s subtle enough not to ruin the gaming experience. It’s just that the cars sometimes takes a right when it’s not supposed to.
Vibration: Nope still not working. I’m planning to disassemble the pad and check if the motors are working fine. Will definitely update this article if I do so.
Gaming is in my blood. Starting from Sega to Nintendo to Gameboys and Game Gears I’ve been playing video games since my early childhood. I still remember how I loved my Sega. I used to wake up middle of the night to play new games I just bought. Then came personal computer. Started playing games on the keyboards. Tell you what, I never liked playing games on keyboard although I must say some games are just better with keyboards but I always missed a good old Gamepad.
So I was out, shopping for a new monitor and thought hey why don’t I get a new Gamepad as well? The tech shop had several gamepads both wired and wireless. I didn’t want to bother with wires so I’ve found myself looking at Microsoft Xbox 360 Gamepad and Astrum Wireless Gamepad. Xbox Gamepad was almost double the price of Astrum and I wasn’t sure if Xbox is PC compatible. Hell I was wrong! About that later, let’s get back to where we were.
So I decided to go with Astrum GW500 Wireless Gamepad not because it was on sale for $13.75 (regular price: $20+) but because how it looked. The Gamepad has a nice rubbery and smooth finish to it. Feels great to hold and to look at. The Gamepad feels sturdy and kinda give impressions it won’t break during heavy gaming. Bringing it back home I immediately plugged the USB module in my PC. The Gamepad needs 3 AA batteries. One thing I don’t like about this gamepad is the on/off switch as it’s very tiny and oddly placed in between the D-pads. If you have big fingers you’ll find it tough to use the switch.
The good news is it gets on standby mode after 5-10 minutes of idle time, I don’t know the exact time. Switching it off and on will wake the device again. You do have to install the driver or windows won’t recognize the Gamepad. Check all the buttons and D-pads to see if all are working. Open up Gamepad settings from start menu and check if the vibration works.
All my buttons and controls were working fine but it wasn’t vibrating. I couldn’t find any vibration option in settings. So I sent Astrum support an email letting them know about the gamepad not vibrating. They sent me 2 different drivers both of which failed to make it vibrate. So I decided the take it back for warranty. The replacement unit worked right from the bat. Both the vibration motors worked like charm.
Once setup has been completed ran GTA V with Astrum GW500 Gamepad on hand and I was amazed how good this Gamepad works. You accelerate from zero and the pad vibrates, you go off the road into the mud and the Gamepad vibrates. You hit another car it vibrates. There was this mission where Trevor was beating up a guy who was taken hostage by FIB and with every heart bit of the hostage the gamepad would vibrate. I felt his heart, literally lol!
I sometimes notice when you drive straight the car not always but sometimes turns a little left. Same goes with when you’re on foot. You stop the walk and the player turns left. Turning off and on the Gamepad solves the problem for me as of yet. Not sure what future holds for me. But so far so good.
Xbox 360 Gamepad
Since I have had 2 faulty units of the same brand, I thought I would give another gamepad a try so I was looking online for solutions and I figured Windows 10 is perfectly optimized for Xbox 360 gamepads. It works right of the bat and works with most of the games without any issue! God I wish I knew that before! So if you’re looking for a cheaper Gamepad and thinking about buying Astrum, I’d say save up and get a Xbox Gamepad but if you can’t save and need to decided now, sure take the Astrum. I mean after all it’s not a bad gamepad plus the support is good. So far my Astrum GW500 is working fine so yeah it’s alright I guess.
I look forward to getting a Xbox Gamepad soon. Although I don’t like the fact that the battery chamber is placed under the controller and with usage the battery cover gets lose and shuts off the gamepad during gameplay (happened with me couple of times while gaming on my friends xbox 360 controller). Not sure if they have the same problem still. Or maybe I’ll get a Xbox one controller, not sure until I break my GW500 😛
My next target is to get a good racing wheel, I have my eyes on a Logitech racing wheel and Pie virtual reality headset. I can’t imagine how would It feel to play GTA V or Project cars with a VR headset on and racing wheel!
Update August 7, 2017 Controller is Dead!
My replacement unit died under a month of low to moderate amount of gaming. Low to moderate meaning 2-3 hours of gaming every 2-3 days with almost no abuse. I like to take care of my gadgets. Not because they are bought using my hard earned cash but I like keeping things in Shape. So back to where I was, I took the unit back to the customer support and they promised me a replacement within 3-4 days so I have reached them again around 10 days later. The customer support people are very friendly, gave me a brand new unit.
Problem solved? Hell NO!
The new unit had a faulty D-pad, it wouldn’t touch 17-175 degrees. The rest of the buttons work just fine but no vibration at all! Again! So I took it back to them again. that customer support guy was a real help, he had given me another brand new unit and tried to check if vibration works but unfortunately the support computer wasn’t equipped with testing softwares. So I came back home and plugged in. IT’S THE SAME! No vibration with this unit as well! I can’t believe I just got my 3rd non vibrating unit! I know if I go back to customer support they would replace the damn thing immediately but I’m just too tired of running around for a controller unit that should do what it promises to do! I can’t believe only 1 controller unit out of 4 brand new units had vibration in them! I tried everything on my knowledge but the ones don’t vibrate, won’t vibrate no matter what. That’s a 75% malfunction rate! Also two out of four controller units had defected D-pads.
Yes the controller looks good, yes it’s virtually painless plug and play controller (once you have it configured and windows controller program recognizes it), yes it works great when it works and yes the customer service is top notch but the damn vibration failure kills the product for me! I wouldn’t recommend Astrum GW500 unless they fix that and the D-pad issue. Right now I’m too tired and not sure if I’d take the unit back, I have it packed and stored safely so that in case I return the unit they can fix it and resell it as refurbished.
Update September 28, 2017
I did go back to their support for the last time, the support guy looked frustrated and said ‘what more can I do for you’ out of frustration. I get it I mean how many times would you go back? It’s just not worth it. So instead of giving it back I asked if there’s anyone who could take it apart and see if the units had motors disconnected? I mean it can’t be the fact that 1 out of 4 had vibration working, there must be something else going on here. In reply to which he said the tech guy isn’t office today and asked if I could come back another day around 10am? I agreed but never felt the urge to go back again. I did play GTA V a few times and apart from the fact that the device lacks vibration its working pretty good so far, not sure how long will it work though lol.
Do I recommend Astrum GW500? Definitely no! (unless you don’t need vibration and you live in a desert where you can only find GW500!)
And don’t forget to check the D-pads using windows gamepad utility. But definitely get a better gamepad with good reviews, save a ton of headache!