Gaming review: Well-built PS4 controller needs better connection

Razer Raiju Ultimate controller
Razer Raiju Ultimate controller

The Razer Raiju Ultimate controller for the Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) improves on its predecessor, the Razer Raiju, in various ways. But its key new feature is wireless Bluetooth connectivity.

Unfortunately, it is this feature that lets me down. At a crucial moment while I was laying down tetrominoes in Tetris Effect, the Ultimate was disconnected from my PlayStation 4 console, which made me lose my game.

Now, this may sound somewhat shocking because being disconnected from a paired Bluetooth accessory like headphones is not uncommon, but I have never had that happen with the standard PS4 DualShock 4 controller.

For a premium game controller targeted at hardcore gamers, it is almost an unforgivable flaw, even if it only happened once in my testing.

In addition, I felt that the controller is a fraction slow to respond to my input, leading to more mistakes than usual. Thankfully, you can fall back on a wired USB connection with the included 3m long braided cable.

Like the original Raiju that was reviewed last year, the Ultimate is closer in size to the Xbox One controller and offers gamers a more meaty feel compared with the DualShock 4.

However, the layout of the joysticks and the buttons follows Sony's lead, with its two thumbsticks at the same level. The Xbox One controller has the left thumbstick positioned higher than the right one.

Personally, I found the Ultimate to be too hefty and uncomfortable to hold for an extended gaming session. Those with larger hands, though, may find its size and shape a better fit than the smaller DualShock 4.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $359.90

    CONNECTIVITY: USB, Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 370g

    RATING

    FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

    OVERALL: 3.5/5

However, there is no denying its build quality. It has textured grips and a soft-touch body that feels premium. The controller buttons feel clicky and tactile, almost like the keys on a mechanical keyboard.

Two extra thumbstick tops and a tilting directional pad (for fighting games) are found in the box. Switching to these spares is easy as they are attached to the controller via magnets.

Razer is not one to turn down an opportunity to add LED lights to its gaming gear, so naturally, the Ultimate has Razer's distinctive Chroma LEDs around its touchpad. They look pretty, though you cannot synchronise its lighting effects with other Razer Chroma products.

These LEDs can be configured using the Razer Raiju mobile app (for Android and iOS). This app is also used to map game controls for the Ultimate's four extra buttons, two shoulder buttons at the top and two rear buttons.

The extra two shoulder buttons are useful, but the rear ones are prone to accidental key presses, so I disabled them in the app.

The app also lets you create custom profiles (four can be stored in the controller) with different vibration strength, Chroma LED settings and thumbstick sensitivity. A minor grouse: At times, the app seems to have difficulty connecting to the controller, which is annoying.

The Ultimate can also work with computers via USB or Bluetooth, though a driver is required when playing PC games outside of the Steam interface. You will also first need to toggle to the desired connection (PC, USB or PS4) using a switch at the back of the controller

Ultimately, the biggest sticking point is its price. For the cost of one Raiju Ultimate ($360), one could purchase five DualShock 4 controllers with change to spare.

•Verdict: Excellent build quality and premium features are not enough to justify its high price and sometimes-wonky Bluetooth connectivity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2019, with the headline 'Well-built PS4 controller needs better connection'. Print Edition | Subscribe