30
Aug
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Last Updated: September 29th, 2014

When we first reported on the iMpulse controller, I was excited. A super-portable Bluetooth controller that strives to capture the near-perfect control scheme of the Super NES and only adds a few ounces to my pocket? Sign me up! And that's exactly what I did, almost a year ago.

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Now, eleven months later and six months after the controller was supposed to ship, I've got it in my hands. And it is a bitter, bitter disappointment. Not because of any lack in hardware capability, but because the software is so wretchedly poor that getting anything except an emulator app to work with the iMpulse is an exercise in head-banging frustration. A huge chunk of the controller's selling points are just plain non-functional, and those parts that do work require so much tedious, time-consuming setup that I'm tempted to chuck it straight in the garbage and kick myself every time I'm tempted to back another Kickstarter project.

The iMpulse controller is a bad product and you shouldn't buy it. Allow me to count the reasons why.

Hardware

The iMpulse itself looks like a slightly oversized version of the wireless car lock that dangles from your keychain. It's a black slab of plastic that's 74x35x11 millimeters, not including the plastic sleeve/stand - small enough to go on your keys or in your pocket without adding an unreasonable amount of bulk. It's essentially a Mini Me-sized copy of the Super Nintendo controller: D-pad on the left, four cardinal action buttons on the right. The shoulder buttons have been moved to the back of the device, but they're still within easy reach of your index fingers. There are no start or select buttons, but the triangular button on the front is for Bluetooth pairing. A tiny, single-note speaker hangs out on the back, forming the dot in "impulsecontroller.com."

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I'll say this much for iMpulse: there's some thoughtful and skilled engineering on display in the hardware design. While it would be almost impossible for a controller this tiny to be as comfortable as a full-sized gamepad, it's a lot more usable than you'd think. Moving the shoulder buttons to the back was a smart move, as trying to hold it like a conventional controller (or a Game Boy Advance) would result in a claw-like grip that would be almost instantly uncomfortable. Instead, your thumbs and forefingers rest in roughly the same spots on opposite sides, holding the gadget comfortably while you press buttons.

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The sleeve serves to both protect your controller and prop up a phone on a table or desk. It works well enough for the latter: slide the edge of your device into the groove and you've got a low-tech stand, assuming that you don't use a case and your phone is as thin or thinner than the iPhone 4. But the small piece of plastic wasn't up to the challenge of holding even my relatively small RAZR M in portrait mode without tipping over, and forget about tablets. The sleeve even fails at protection: I started to notice unsightly scratched grooves on the iMpulse housing after sliding the sleeve off just a few times, something that I'm sure will worsen over time.

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The package also includes a tiny strap for attaching to your keys and a standard MicroUSB cord for charging. One last thing: it's made in the USA, which is proudly emblazoned on the back of the device.

Apps And Software

iMpulse has released two apps on Google Play: iMpulsify for setting up the controller itself, and Find My Impulse for the much-touted keyfinder capability. They are both embarrassingly bad examples of design and function, or lack thereof.

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iMpulsify is a series of static screens masquerading as an interface. The primary screen is an overly complex and jumbled explanation of how to apply the various settings and modes to the device. Normally I don't let a poor UI get me down, especially for something that doesn't actually need it most of the time, but iMpulsify reminds me of the terrible computer DVD player programs from 2001. It's also fullscreen and landscape-only, which is a real downer when you're trying to connect a Bluetooth device. Oh, and the Android app uses drawings of an iPhone to illustrate how you connect. Way to go the extra mile, guys.

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Are you kidding me?

Once you connect iMpulse via the standard Bluetooth menu (which doesn't actually need the app), you can use iMpulsify to change modes, check function, and find games that "work" with the controller. Four basic modes are supported: universal (Bluetooth keyboard), media controller (A2DP Bluetooth mode), iOS controller, and Apple TV controller. Obviously only two of those are going to appeal to Android Police readers.

But here's the problem with the app, and really the main problem with iMpulsify itself: the device uses a Bluetooth keyboard setting for software instead of a generic game controller setup. Those A/W/V/M markings on the buttons aren't just for easy orientation, they're the actual key mappings. Connect the iMpulse to your phone, and what you've got is a tiny keyboard with four arrow keys, A, W, V, M, U, and N keys. Open up any text field and you can actually type, assuming that all you want to type is "WAVUMN."

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The problem is that there are zero games that default to this configuration for actual play. With the iMpulse reading as a keyboard instead of a gamepad, you will be hard-pressed to find anything - anything at all - that works with iMpulse out of the box. I'll explore this more in the game section of this review.

The media/presentation mode is the only part of iMpulse that worked flawlessly. When in this mode you can use the D-pad or back buttons to control your media volume, and use the W, A, and M keys for back, pause/play, and forward, respectively. It works in any music or video app. It's nice. If this thing was called the "iMpulse music and video remote," it might have fared a lot better.

On to the second app: Find My Impulse. It's a single screen that you tap to trigger an alarm on the controller. No buttons, no instructions, just tap it and the phone will find your iMpulse via Bluetooth, whether it's connected or not, and make it sing out.

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Liar.

Or not. Because it doesn't work. At all. I tried a dozen times on two separate devices and got nothing. The iMpulse did beep once... when I reconnected about eight hours later. I don't know if that was the alarm or not. I've got no frame of reference for what the alarm sounds like, because it doesn't work.

Games

Let's get the good part out of the way first: iMpulse functions as advertised with all the emulators I tested, including Gameboid and its various cousins and the excellent DraStric Nintendo DS emulator. Connect the controller, dive into the settings of the emulator app, map the keys, and you're off - you don't even need the iMpulsify app (which is honestly kind of a blessing). Of course this is damning the hardware with faint praise: Android emulator developers are used to users who play games on anything and everything. I'm pretty sure you could get a Bluetooth headset to play Mario if you tinkered with it long enough.

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I could easily recommend iMpulse to someone who spends a lot of time playing emulated games on Android. But only if they never played anything else. Because iMpulse doesn't work with any other games. The keys that are bound to A, W, V, M, and U aren't compatible with anything out of the box - not even the games that are linked in the iMpulsify app, many of which don't even use controls that are analogous to buttons.

It's impossible to overstate the failure here: iMpulsify doesn't work with 99% of Android games. The gadget apparently ignores the HID controller standard in favor of pretending to be a keyboard. That means that even games that include specific support for external controllers won't work. You can't play Grand Theft Auto. You can't play Crazy Taxi. You can't even play Skiing Fred. Some games respond to the directional pad, but only the directional pad. Which is better than nothing, but it still leaves Sonic the Hedgehog in big trouble if he ever wants to do anything complex, like jump.

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"The Y button isn't doing anything. Whelp, guess I'll just walk around Liberty City and try to kill people by slowly invading their personal space."

Why Black Powder Media would choose to make a controller this way is baffling. I managed to find a couple of games that supported the iMpulse when it was in iOS mode (mostly from OrangePixel), but if the creators had the presence of mind to use the go-to standard for iOS controllers, why in blue blazes did they switch to a keyboard input for Android?

I have a hard time believing that they tested it for anything more than emulation, despite the long list of games posted on the Kickstarter page. Black Powder Media has a mulligan, however: they recommend the $3 GameKeyboard app as a go-between for the iMpulse and touchscreen (read: non-emulated) games. This app was designed to enable Bluetooth keyboards and other input devices to control touchscreen games. By dint of much effort, not to mention root privileges, it is technically possible to manually configure iMpulse to work with most games.

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But this is not an acceptable solution. For one thing, it requires a $3 purchase from a third party that has no duty to support iMpulse users. What happens to iMpulse if the developer simply decides to stop updating, which they're more than free to do? For another, it requires a ridiculous amount of setup and customization of the GameKeyboard app to get everything working with the controller - so much so that I was tempted to just chuck it and deal with the on-screen controls. And for yet another, it requires root to get everything working at an acceptable level, which is not OK for a product that's awaiting a retail release. And all this is before you realize that you'll need a separate profile for every game, and you'll have to switch back to a standard virtual keyboard every time you finish playing. It's an incredibly tedious, frustrating process.

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Consider the following: the iMpulse controller Kickstarter campaign began in September of last year. It was originally set for delivery in February. Disregarding the tales of difficulty and setbacks in development (because frankly I'm tired of hearing them from Kickstarter creators), Black Powder Media had eleven months to get the software right. Would it be unreasonable to expect them to develop their own key mapping app for Android which doesn't rely on a third party? Or perhaps considering the generally poor quality of the iMpulsify app and the fact that the project earned nearly three times its monetary goal, couldn't we expect them to pay someone else to make the app for them?

Conclusion

The iMpulse controller has some good hardware and genuinely thoughtful design. It would have been very easy for a controller this tiny to feel uncomfortable or cheap, and it is neither. There's a lot of potential in the physical device (issues with the plastic sleeve notwithstanding) and a definite niche for a pocket-friendly gamepad, which is no doubt why the project was so well-funded and highly anticipated.

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But as a finished piece of hardware, the iMpulse falls at nearly every single hurdle, at least for Android users. The horrible decision to use the keyboard standard instead of a controller HID setup means that it only works as a media remote, an emulation gamepad, and with a very, very slim collection of games that support controllers intended for iOS devices. I can't express how disappointed I am. iMpulse has caused me to grow cold on the whole idea of Kickstarter, along with the Wallee M, Star Command, and all the other projects that over promise and under deliver far too late.

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It's possible that a firmware update could address some of the issues listed above, and better apps or game developer support might improve things. But I'm not going to hold my breath. Black Powder Media is taking pre-orders for the non-backer versions of the iMpulse controller starting at $25. I would advise anyone except dedicated emulator users to avoid it at any price.

Update: Black Powder Media left a comment on this review to state that they plan to introduce Android HID controls (you know, the thing I spent about a thousand words up there harping on) in a firmware update. I applaud this dedication to post-sale service and I look forward to trying it out. Based on the initial delivery estimate and actual shipping date for iMpulse, I'm going to tentatively pencil that in for February of next year.

Editor's note: Android HID support has since been added, and the controller's firmware can be updated with desktop computer. Head to this website o download the firmware tool. 

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • rphillipps16

    Oh well. I backed this, still waiting for mine. Software can be fixed, though, right?

    • squiddy20

      It indeed can be, but the question is: will it be? As Jeremiah points out, they had effectively 11 months to do the hardware and software, and it seems they only focused on the hardware.

  • wjrandon

    Works for what I purchased it for. Game on!

  • kindrudekid

    did anyone get this email?

    ----------------
    We're happy to inform you that your controller/s will be shipping within the next 30-45 days, depending on your pledge or re-order number and date.

    Due to a system error with our pre-order payment portal service, we see that your card was NOT charged for the following transaction made at http://store.impulsecontroller.com/. This happened to about 25 of our first 100 transactions, and we addressed it as soon as we discovered this issue. We regret the inconvenience, and now that we are close to shipping your controller/s we are following up to inform you about the non-charge and offer 3 suggestions as to how we may proceed.

    ----------------

    I emailed them, twice, no reply at all? I was a kickstarter backer but my card expired before the project funded and since i setup filters on gmail, i never realised i coulnt successfully back it up...

  • DoctorRabbitfoot

    This makes me very sad. I've already been frustrated that I still haven't received mine (Last email I got was something of a "shipping some now, some later") and of course I've been frustrated at all the setbacks.

    This had a lot of potential. Hopefully the company will stand behind their product and fix the software issues.

    • Matthew Fry

      Well, if you're one of the people who got metal, the metalwork is really nice. No complaints on the metal finish at all (other than I wish I could have whole thing in metal).

  • http://creativezane.sg Zane Lee

    Hey Jeremiah, I think the one that you're reviewing isn't the final finish and form. I'm one of their preview testers and these preview sets are unpolished plastic. Now getting that out of the way, I agree with you how much this controller sucks on the software side.

    As a preview tester, I thought that my feedback would meant something to them. I told them that the controller couldn't switch pairing from my iMac (now I did that just to test whether it switches between paired devices) and to my Nexus 7 or Android phone.

    On top of that, their app really sucks badly and the keyfinder feature didn't work at all. I tried many times over in different situations but couldn't get the keyfinder beep, and it only did once or twice which I wasn't able to reliably replicate. So that's a bummer.

    Secondly, the battery life sucks on standby and dies pretty quickly despite being fully charged. There's no indicator to how much juice you have left except when it starts flashing white light on the buttons and the creators claim that it will be 2 days before it will run out of juice. I observed and it seems like the white flash will come on at intervals throughout the day or week. There's no way of turning it completely off.

    Also, there's no charge indicator to this thing. I suggested that they buy RGB LEDs instead of White LEDs so that the backlight itself could flash red or green or blue to indicate whatever. But guess what, they think that I shouldn't be stirring up all these ideas on their Kickstarter comments because they were getting ready to ship and they have sort of exhausted their budget and this is the best they can do.

    Well, and I never ever did put the controller to use because of what you said, it emulates a keyboard and not a gamepad. The media control features are nothing more than gimmicks because my iMac's bluetooth keyboard has media buttons, while it's ridiculous for me to connect it to my phone or tablet just to pause shows.

    I ever wanted to go the extra mile and see if I could get it working on XBMC on my Raspberry Pi with a bluetooth adapter and use it as a remote, but I didn't since my phone acts as a great XBMC remote with Yatse. So at the end of the day, this is really pretty much a useless device. Even the aesthetics wise, the initial prototypes had printed black symbols on the buttons, but the final version was just underwhelming with it's plain look and not so fantastic feeling buttons.

    • http://creativezane.sg Zane Lee
    • Jeremiah Rice

      This isn't a review unit: I was a regular Kickstarter backer and I got this basic black model in the mail. I assume that this is the same version that's intended for retail release at some point.

      • http://creativezane.sg Zane Lee

        I'm pretty sure it's a review unit because it's the same packaging as the preview unit I got in the mail (on 12th July). The retail packaging looks different as per their latest Kickstarter update: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/852638998/impulse-game-controller-and-key-finder-pocket-acce/posts/551477

        • Jeremiah Rice

          Hmm, that does look different. All I can say is that I haven't had any contact with Black Powder Media as anything other than a Kickstarter backer. This unit was shipped out as a regular backer device for the $30 support tier.

          • http://creativezane.sg Zane Lee

            That sounds pretty whacked up. They shouldn't be shipping the preview units to backers unless they signed up to be preview testers. When did you receive your controller? Just within the last 2 weeks? I hope they'll get in touch with you and clarify anything. But it still doesn't change the facts that they incorporate tons of modes into the controller, but forgetting the most important part of it -- the gamepad mode (we don't want keyboard emulation).

            Also, many important features were not well thought out as things such as battery indicator (honestly flashing a white led that isn't noticed a day before the battery dies isn't effective), and specifications on the capacity of the battery and how long it can last on a single charge (and how long it takes to charge) are not stated.

        • Steve Wells

          I just got my "final" unit and it looks exactly as pictured. It feels like something that would've been picked up for $5 at a market.

        • DoctorRabbitfoot

          I received mine last night and it looks the same, packaging and all, as the one pictured.

          • Steven Anthony Scott

            Ditto on mine looking like the above pictured in this article. Black, unpolished plastic.It does feel cheap, but I was surprised that my HTC One running 4.3 showed a gamestick when it discovered this BT device.

  • Dave Harrison

    I never received an email, but I received the controller.

    • H3xTo

      Me too. A month ago they told me via Twitter that the estimated date of shipping was 2wks. They missed that by two weeks.

  • DarrenR

    Dang, I was hoping mine wasnt working because something I was doing wrong... I think I am done with Kickstarter for good, Ive been burned too many times now.

    • http://mercurypdx.tumblr.com/ MercuryPDX

      I didn't get mine yet, but based on this and the comments this will be my first (and last) burn. :/

      • DarrenR

        The creators saw this review and said they would make a firmware update.

        • http://mercurypdx.tumblr.com/ MercuryPDX

          We'll see what gets here first. ;)

  • Stuberty

    The fact that it doesn't work with most games is more the fault of the game developers than Black Powder Media. The cooperation of the devs will be required to make their games iMpulse-friendly. That said, smart phone games are trash. I can't wait to get my iMpulse and play some roms.

    • squiddy20

      Ummm... no. As Jeremiah said in the article, if Black Powder Media had used the controller HID setup instead of that f*cked up keyboard configuration, it probably would have worked on a ton more games.

    • Joshua Hill

      Did you read what the author said in the article or are you being paid by Black Powder Media?

    • Matthew Fry

      Uh. But... the apps it says it's compatible with natively DO NOT WORK.

    • H3xTo

      It's 2nd rate development and cheap plastic. Unfixable

      • Joris Griffioen

        Oh come on, it's a cheap device at $25. The plastic is probably fine.

        • H3xTo

          You're probably right but if it worked like advertised I wouldn't even care cause eventually it's gonna get scratched anyway but so far it doesn't. Missing the delivery date by 6mo doesn't help either

          • Joris Griffioen

            I'm with you on the other stuff. The way people (including the Black Powder) guys accept delays is crazy and the software is just not up to scratch, but let's not start making stuff up.

            Either way, I'd rather have botched software than botched hardware, and it seems so far that the hardware is totally fine, software can be updated. (that does not make it ok, but it's just less of a critical situation)

  • kpjimmy

    All right, that's it. I'm about done with Kickstarter as well. With 99% of the creators and countless delays, I am just going to Kickstarter to back pens, wallets, and bottle openers. Well the Lace Anchors 2.0, and the Big Woody bamboo watch, Ti pens, and Allegory pens went through without a terrible delay.

    I got my Pebble eventually, which was the most painful. I am still awaiting news on the Cleartouch keyboard I backed years ago, my first KS. Now they are going through legal issues which pretty much places a gag order on the creator....smh...

    • DarrenR

      The first kickstarter I backed was supposed to ship in September 2012. Still waiting.

    • light487

      I honestly don't get this mentality.. a couple of failed projects doesn't make the entirety of KS bad. I've backed a lot of projects and received all things on schedule except for this, which has now arrived. All other projects have future "estimated" dates. Sure, the project creators are at fault.. but not KS.

  • Eric J. Peterson

    I have to agree with the review. I was very dissappointed with mine. There a few non-emulator games out there that will let you map buttons, but very few that I've been able to find.

  • Dave Harrison

    Quick tip to get the keyfinder to work. When you are done not using the controller as a controller, hit the triangle once. This will put it into keyfinder mode. Keyfinder doesn't work when in other modes. At least this works for me part of the time.

    • coolsilver

      yea messing more with it, it locks the buttons but who really is going to remember to do that every time

      • iMpulse Controller

        @coolsilver:disqus - the iMpulse auto-locks after an hour of non-use. The tap-lock feature is great if you want to slip it into your pocket and not trigger the phone. Also, turning off/on bluetooth on ur Android will lock the iMpulse.

  • Sir_Brizz

    I'm pretty sure that Android has bluetooth jailed out of the HID driver. Even the MOGA controllers don't technically use HID unless you use the Universal Driver in System mode. The MOGA pivot app loads an HID driver when a supported game runs that makes the game think the controller is running in HID mode when it is actually just emulating it.

    That being said, that approach is much more user friendly than forcing keyboard emulation mode. Keyboard mode forces you to damage one of the features of your phone (the ability to type) in order to support the buttons on the controller.

    HEre's hoping that Android 5 unlocks the HID mode for bluetooth controllers. Or, perhaps, an update to the Play Games API.

  • YipYap

    I've been burned by Kickstarter three times. Three different projects I sponsored all delivered and all sucked. No more Kickstarter for me.

  • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

    How sad. I was eagerly awaiting mine. Now I'll be awaiting it with a mild sense of dread.

  • Floss

    While I can undestand your complaint, the only thing I would want this for is for emulators, so for me the rest of it sounds good to go! Now if only I could actually buy the dang thing...

    • Matthew Fry

      Oh you can pretty much buy it now and it only costs $25 + $6 shipping. You saved yourself 10 months of waiting and it only cost you shipping and you'll get it next month. Congratulations.

      http://www.impulsecontroller.com/storefront.php#!/~/product/category=0&id=17596202

      • Joris Griffioen

        Yep, that part is very strange. What (besides the gratification of supporting a project) is the added value for backers?

        • Max

          Interestingly enough, exceedingly few project owners feel like backers merit any particular favors in this sense. Usually they just promise to list your name in somewhere, throw you a few wallpapers or something, and maybe list a sharply limited number of "early bird" discounted units. That's it. Amazingly, even digital goods that have no per-unit production costs often fail to list for much any discount at all - which is the least of what would be fair (assuming the goal can be secured) towards the people who made the project possiblr in the first place. Oh well, it's just the nature of the beast, like the compulsory "add six months to a year to the estimated delivery date" thing...

  • iMpulse Controller

    Hi Jeremiah - one of our backers brought your review to our attention and sought clarification. The following is our reply to him - hope that it address the key questions and issues you had with the iMpulse Controller....

    "The reviewer's primary issue is the absence of gamepad support on Android. Team iMpulse is already working on a user-upgradeable firmware update for Androiders. Fact is, gamepad support did not exist on Android OS until ver.4.0.x (even now it is not a required part of Android OS). We are of course committed to adapting to the android protocols as it continues to search for a standard.

    The second aspect to keyboard HID: there is no agreed-upon protocol among developers as yet, however it is incredibly straightforward to add support for the iMpulse. So we're going to keep this simple option available to developers, in addition to bringing the gamepad mode to iMpulse firmware ver.1.01.

    In the meantime, using an app like Gamekeyboard is a very good idea primarily because it allows you to play games with the iMpulse that you cannot normally play in either gamepad OR HID keyboard mode. And we're in regular contact with the developer, so the comment from the reviewer that they would withdraw support doesn't make much sense (also, there are SEVERAL remapper apps out there, you don't need to use just Gamekeyboard - we just like it because it is powerful even though a little hard to master).

    The reviewer's perception that we would never come out with a gamepad-inclusive software update is simply wrong and misleading. He made no attempt to contact us or ask for clarification on our software update plans, so there's no way he could have reached this conclusion logically.

    2nd issue brought up in the review - The review erroneously reported that "...the phone will fond your iMpulse via Bluetooth, whether it's connected or not…". The key finder is designed to activate only when the iMpulse is NOT connected, so it is not surprising that it didn't work for him. If there are any other issues working the key finder, please let us know at tech_at_impulsecontroller_dot_com.

    • arathkone

      Whilst it's great that you guys have replied and are obviously looking to improve on the issues that have been brought up I can't help but think these are issues that you should make backers/buyers aware of prior to purchase?

      The fact you're working on a firmware update to fix the biggest issue with the gamepad, i.e. it doesn't work with most games, is fine but it doesn't make his points any less valid at this time and promised firmware is great assuming you deliver on it.

      The terrible apps which I assume are just ports from iOS are not a good look, it's not 2 years ago, Android is a HUGE platform with a lot of users and deserves a bit of a attention paid to it. Your example of how to connect a bluetooth device is iOS specific, are there Android specific instructions?

      With the issues that appear with the item the fact that your keyfinder mode couldn't be made to work seems like it's probably that there are no instructions to actually explain this?

      I LOVE the idea of this controller and if the issues are fixed i'm very tempted to pick one up, I came very close to backing it but I'm now glad I didn't, it's not what I expected it would be at the time.

      • iMpulse Controller

        Thanks for your feedback arathkone - you might see from our KS pages that we have been incredibly responsive to our backers over the entire development cycle of the iMpulse Controller, from design to engineering to materials to UI.

        The comment about "it doesn't work with most games" is somewhat misleading. This is not a limitation of the iMpulse Controller - as it stands there currently is no universal protocol adopted by mobile developers. As the gamepad protocol makes its way into common use, we will have a firmware that supports it too - at no charge of course. That's the best that can be done to address the issue of universal compatibility, and staying current with the rest of the industry.

        The iMpulse is a brand new product, and as it catches the attention of developers (as well, we are actively working to gain more developer support) we hope to see widening native iMpulse support among Android games. since there is no clear standard to go by, we have incorporated user-upgradeable firmware into the iMpulse.

        The software apps may not suit everyone's aesthetic, however they are NOT ported from iOS nor was any less time and attention put into them (save for the phone silhouette we used on one tab). This is a stylistic and subjective aesthetic issue - as long as they function and serve their purpose, that's what matters most wouldn't you agree?

        We do have instructions for use on our website at the my.impulsecontroller.com portal which we update regularly in response to customer feedback.

        • arathkone

          Thank you for your reply, I appreciate you guys are working hard on this and I really look forward to seeing where this goes, currently using my PS3 controller connected by USB is an inelegant solution and only good for home use. An affordable alternative would be great, hopefully iMpulse can be that alternative.

          Regarding the Apps, I'm not entirely convinced to be honest *but* it's an annoyance for me not a dealbreaker

        • 8Charlie

          You guys just lost all credibility with this post.

          It's not misleading, it's a fact. It's not your fault, maybe. But it's reality. The controller doesn't work with most games. Even the games you guys link to yourself. You know this and you knew this from the start. (If anything you are misleading.)

          And you use iOS pics to explain how to pair the device via Bluetooth. iPhone silhouette? That's a pic of the iPhone complete with the full iOS UI and everything.

        • Oink

          Simply change your device to send the correct key events and everything will be fine. There are some devices out there already doing this. And these devices works great without issues and everything on stock.

          • iMpulse Controller

            @8Charlie:disqus @f2f57f1387c61884ba00d1eb3c4778c9:disqus

            We're working on a gamepad HID implementation. This is easier said than done, as we want our firmware to be widely compatible, however there are no firm standards yet on gamepad key events.

            Team iMpulse has ALWAYS been firm in our commitment to freely provide firmware upgrades and enhancements for the iMpulse Controller. The best evidence for this is that we engineered user-upgradeable firmware into the core design of our controller!

            We truly want the iMpulse to be a widely compatible and indispensable accessory, any indication to the contrary makes no sense. Nor do we have any intention to mislead our backers - it may well be that developers that previously supported HID keyboard mode have migrated to HID gamepad. No worries, we intend to provide support for BOTH protocols and give everybody maximum choice :)

            If anyone wishes to stay updated on the iMpulse gamepad HID firmware, kindly email gamepad@impulsecontroller.com to be added to an email list to receive a notification when it is ready for download.

            Thank you!

    • Matthew Fry

      Fact is, Android 4.0 came out a month before your Kickstarter campaign.

      • http://www.stevenmattera.com Steven Mattera

        In fact it was Android 3.1 that came with support for USB and Bluetooth controllers. That was released on May 10th 2011. Their project was funded on November 4th, 2012.

        No excuses. I didn't help fund this Kickstarter project. (Kind of glad I didn't...)

        • Sir_Brizz

          Honeycomb only had support via OTG, for native controllers anyway. In fact, I don't think Android currently supports native controllers via Bluetooth, either. Certain ROMs enable this, but stock Android blocks the bluetooth controller from accessing the controller driver last time I checked.

          • Oink

            Nope, android 4 have native support. Using my n4 and creedroid gamepad with many games like gta, riptide and the new asphalt. Everything great, no root required!!!

      • iMpulse Controller

        Thanks for your feedback Matthew.

        As a backer, you already know the following - we have made available at sub-$30 price point, a Bluetooth remote device for your smartphone and computer that controls your media player, plays games, runs your powerpoint/keynote presentations and your AppleTV, and can itself be located from your smartphone! It was entirely made in the US, by a team of 8 people, on a shoestring budget and a LOT of hard work, overcoming obstacles that would shock and stun the listener, if we told the story. Only the tips of these have been related on our Kickstarter pages.

        Further, the iMpulse already plays your emulators as well as games like Gunman Clive or Dynamite Jack which support HID keyboard. We have already committed to adding HID gamepad mode for those of you who want it.

        We ALSO have gone through the research to find apps and tools that will make your iMpulse even more functional. This is NOT the same as "admitting there's a deficiency in your product you identified and did not rectify". Apps like Gamekeyboard will give you access to games that even gamepad HID will not, that's just a fact. Likewise - the remote camera shutter will work with ANY app that activates the camera shutter by pressing the Vol+ button on your smartphone. All you have to do is go the Google Play Store and find one you like. We have recommended VolShutter, which is free, highly reviewed, and works fine with the iMpulse. If we had the resources, we'd code an app exactly like it and give it away with the iMpulse.

    • Nian

      Give me a promise that you will implement a HID function soon (this year) and I will buy several for christmas presents.
      Thinking of getting one now for testing. (Better work with the Amiga emulators)...
      Also will you be implementing Bluetooth LE for Android 4.3? Would is need a new device or can it be firmware?
      Lastly, I think perhaps you need to iron out your current implementation for 2.x and then fork out to a android 4.x firmware. Let people flash the firmware best suited for their device.

      • iMpulse Controller

        No promises until it's ready for download @Nian - but that's certainly the intention!

  • Matthew Fry

    I got my unit yesterday. I received my shipping email yesterday. It had been in transit for 3 weeks but I had no idea until it was literally on my door step. An interesting approach to shipping notification.

    The packaging was very pretty and I thought it was cool they went the extra mile and put my and my wife's name on the packages. The app was incomprehensible. I downloaded it weeks ago when they announced it was up and I just assumed that it would make much more sense when I had it in my hands. It didn't. It took me longer than I'd like to admit to figure out what was going on. I was seriously confused about what was going on until I figured out it was emulating a physical keyboard.The build quality is subpar. The metal finish looks fantastic but the plastics sides were rough and sharp.

    The first thing I tried to do was use it on the only game I had that happened to be on their very short list of Android apps that used it natively. It didn't work. They went to the trouble of adding it to a list and link the app but never once tried it? Disappointing.

    The second thing I tried to do was use it for media stuff. The media remote part works as advertised but unfortunate for BPM, Android sucks at bluetooth remote control. It loses track of what was playing last and will often call up the music app after it's rebooted, despite the fact I was using youtube. Again, this is Android sucking it up, not the impulse.

    The third thing I tried to do was get it working with RetroArch, admittedly a relatively new addition to Android (like 6 months), but I was disappointed to see it not natively support it. It supposedly supports iCade but the iCade controller setups that RetroArch have do not work with it. I finally found the physical keyboard section and got it mapping and it worked relatively well. The few roms I play will work fantastically I think.

    Not having OS level game controller support for Android is completely inexcusable. According to NVIDIA, "Game controller support was added in Honeycomb 3.1, which is API Level 12." Here's a bit of interesting info, Honeycomb 3.1 was released in May 2011. If you aren't keeping track, that's 6 months *BEFORE* the impulse kickstarter campaign. Granted, that's before Android was unified. So it is technically true that it was added for phones in Android 4.0, which was released a month *BEFORE* the impulse kickstarter campaign.

    The sleeve is just mm's short of holding my One, with case, and since none of the controls work with the sleeve on, I'll either put it on and take it off constantly, lose it, or just never put it on again.

    This was the first Kickstarter I supported and several campaigns have started with longer projected schedules and finished before BPM finished theirs. Unfortunately, this may be because manufacturing in the US is shoddy and unpredictable. All I know was that I was so excited to see it finally arrive and my excitement slowly waned to disappointment and complete unhappiness over the next several hours of trying to make it work as advertised. I can already tell my wife will never take it out of the box.

    Speaking of advertised functionality, what happened to the remote camera shutter functionality they announced?

    • Matthew Fry

      I will say that, as lazy as this makes me sound, having the media controller beats messing with the play music controls. Even with the phone right next to me and my keys right next that, I'm actually enjoying using the remote.

      • Steven Anthony Scott

        Ditto on the media remote. I use my phone on a mount in my car and I don't always want to jack around with the screen to get back to Spotify while driving. Being able to change tracks is a nice addition.

  • Leonardo Baez

    all the problems listed as negative, can be solved with software/firmware updates

    • H3xTo

      Not the cheap plastic

      • iMpulse Controller

        The plastic/finish may not be to your preference, however please be assured that we have used A-grade ABS plastic on the iMpulse Controller.

  • coolsilver

    Just got mine today and every point I found in first 5 minutes. I already had the poor iMpulsify app which I overlooked. I had Sonic installed already.... fail can not jump. Seriousky wtf. So ok maybe it is mapping. No customization for it and exactly that wamvnu bull. I hope that firmware update comes soon. MANY MANY people got on them about true android support and got oh it will have it don't worry. Ha. Least it wasnt 80 for a bluetooth device and hardware is pretty well designed.

  • jeffmd

    All issues here I see has to do with software support. Since the group managing this kickstarter has no where near the funds or vision that say, the oculus rift has, with support from valve and epic megagames and oh yea, the worlds largest developer team with working units, we will have to let the hardware come first and hope software follows. The hardware looks great, I want one!

  • CaibreGreyblade

    So, as long as I use it with an emulator, it works? If yes, then the controller is worth it's price for me.

  • H3xTo

    Got mine today and its complete garbage. It's already scratched by its own sleeve and even the games in its app that it supposedly work for don't work. I can't believe Kickstarter hasn't done anything about these guys' outright lies about their product on top of missing the delivery date by 6+months. I was so excited about it that I forgave the constant delays which in retrospect sounded like the things scammers tell their victims to keep taking their money. Not sure if I'm more disappointed in the lousy product or in myself for believing their lies.

    • iMpulse Controller

      Sorry that you're not enjoying your iMpulse Controller.

      Please view our comments on our KS page as well as on this page - we are continuing to add game / gamepad compatibility to the iMpulse Controller.
      Kickstarter is not a pre-order site, it is an environment for new product development. Even Sony or Microsoft or Apple cannot 100% guarantee their ship dates - on the plus side, we are one of the tech products that made it to completion!

      We do appreciate your support and feedback, and are constantly working to enhance the iMpulse Controller experience. Thank you.

  • GrammarPolice

    "[...] and the excellent DraStric Nintendo DS emulator."

    GrammarPolice alert: you got an extra 'r' in there.

  • Philip Dangler

    The controller that I was sent had an issue--it got locked up and wouldn't stop beeping--but want to say that the Impulse team responded immediately to my complaint emails and I am now a happy customer. I just wanted to be able to play emulators (GBC.emu, mostly) and for that it works quite well. I sometimes have my phone plugged in for music at work and it's very nice to be able to hit the "mute" button I have mapped on the controller to quiet the music immediately without fumbling with my phone.

    I agree that the construction feels a bit cheapish, but I've bought worse controllers. (The Atari 5200 ones come to mind!) I absolutely loathe the onscreen controls and this is a reasonably inexpensive upgrade from that. Map the keys, get playing. Nice and simple.

    I know this is an old review, but it comes at the top of any search for the Impulse and I wanted to offer something positive here. I was a KS backer but am otherwise unaffiliated with the company.

  • Ruben House L.L.C.

    We got our iMpulse today and we've already updated Nimble Spark on Google Play to support it, it wasn't hard. It worked on iOS out of the box.

  • Chris Gio

    Good honest review. I waited months and was excited to finally get it so I could use it on my ipad but the thing is a pile of sh*t