updated 06:15 pm EDT, Tue June 7, 2011
We test OnLive's wireless gamepad at E3
We had the opportunity at E3 to try OnLive's new Universal Wireless Controller well before it ships. The gamepad, although it's meant for anything ranging from an iPad through to a Mac or PC, feels very much like an Xbox 360 controller in the hand -- that's a good thing, as it's very comfortable. Buttons and sticks all fall easily within reach, and we liked the media controls for Brag Clips (replay videos) as a way of keeping it keyboard-free.
Our tester was plugged in through USB to one of OnLive's MicroConsoles and so didn't face lag. We're told the Bluetooth should still be lag-free from the user's end, though. We did have some issues with Just Cause 2 being slightly twitchy in response to movements, although that may be the game more than the controller.
Games themselves were very responsive even with the large amount of bandwidth and possible lag from 720p, 30FPS live streaming needed to make OnLive work. That said, the setup was what you'd probably call ideal: the server was just a few hours' drive away, so lag was virtually a non-factor.
We've heard also that OnLive isn't using dedicated graphics cards to render video but instead a very parallel, virtualized equivalent that helps it make more use of its space. A company engineer wouldn't confirm it for us, though.
Our takeaway was that the UWC should be an ideal fit, especially for iPads and other devices where a lack of physical controls is sometimes considered a dealbreaker. OnLive won't ship it until the fall, and the price is due to arrive closer to that point.