Review: Gamepads

Topic: Review

Gamepads are only for gaming? That's no longer true: Semanux combines the intuitive operation of game controllers with other input devices for better access to the Internet and the computer. No matter if with motoric limitations in the working world or if the computer is used for watching TV on the couch. When the keyboard is not accessible, our software makes it possible to use a gamepad.

Three gamepads on a table.

During the Semanux development process, we were able to test various gamepads as potential input devices. In this article we present the devices we tested, show how to set them up and how to use them with Semanux.

The selection of models on the market is large. We tried and tested the following three models for the development of Semanux. The gamepads differ in the connection to the computer, the processing and the price:

PowerA ControllerCableOfficially licensedSatisfactory34,99 €
Microsoft Xbox ControllerCable or BluetoothBatteries requiredGood59,99 €
Microsoft Xbox Adaptive ControllerCable or BluetoothRechargeable BatteryVery Good89,99 €

Overview of all gamepad models in the comparison.
(* Prices as of October 17, 2022, excluding shipping costs.)

The PowerA controller is the cheapest model in our comparison. The gamepad's workmanship with smooth plastic and the light weight is fine. The pressure points of the buttons are okay. Unfortunately, the gamepad can only be used with a cable. The cable is detachable, 3 meters long and connects to the computer via a USB-A port.

PowerA Controller.

PowerA Controller.

The official Xbox controller from Microsoft is noticeably heavier than the PowerA controller, especially when batteries are inserted. The controller is also made of plastic. However, the workmanship feels distinctly high-end. In particular, the slightly ribbed plastic on the bottom of the gamepad makes it feel good in the hand. The pressure points of the buttons are also excellent. The gamepad can be connected to the computer with a cable as well as with Bluetooth. The latter requires two AA batteries, which are included in the scope of delivery.

Microsoft Xbox Controller.

Microsoft Xbox Controller.

The Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller is designed for alternative game control. For the computer, it behaves like a normal Xbox controller, but looks completely different.

The gamepad itself features two large, circular buttons that act as the A and B buttons, respectively. The large buttons are often misunderstood as touch-sensitive surfaces, but they are really just very large buttons. For both the A and B buttons, as well as all the other usual buttons of an Xbox controller, there is a 3.5 mm jack on the side of the gamepad, also known as a jack plug, to be able to implement the respective button with an alternative switch.

The Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit (99,99 €*) is available to match the gamepad, and contains numerous matching switches including stickers. In addition, the gamepad has two USB-A ports to be able to replace both the left and right stick of an Xbox controller with alternative joysticks.

Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller with the Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit.

Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller with the Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit.

The gamepad is completely made of metal and thus makes the highest quality impression in our comparison. Additionally, it integrates a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and offers a 1/4-inch-20 mounting pattern on the back.

The controllers from our comparison can be connected to the computer via cable or Bluetooth. While additional adapters were necessary for the wireless controllers in the past, the devices can now simply be connected via Bluetooth. This works for both Mac and Windows. You can simply plug in the wired PowerA controller.

To connect an Xbox controller wirelessly to your computer, simply press the Xbox icon on the controller to turn it on. The pairing button (three waves) on the back of the controller must then be pressed for at least 3 seconds. The light of the Xbox icon should start pulsating very fast. Then open the settings on your computer and turn on Bluetooth. In the Bluetooth menu you can add a new device. Choose the Xbox Wireless Controller or the Xbox Adpative Controller.

Once you have connected your device to the computer, the gamepad will be recognized directly by Semanux. After that you can use the stick as well as the buttons to control the computer. We recommend you to deactivate the Xbox-Game-Bar. You can find instructions in our FAQ. By default, an Xbox gamepad can already control some Microsoft apps and parts of the Start menu incompletely. However, this control can interfere with Semanux operation. This control can only be effectively prevented on Windows 11 and after a reboot. The images in the Semanux software support the Xbox controller. However, you can use any controller you like.

If you have any questions about the settings of our software, you can contact Raphael (

All gamepads in this review fulfill their purpose. We recommend the Microsoft Xbox controller or the Microsoft Xbox Adaptive controller in combination with the Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit because of the high-quality workmanship.

You can test Semanux now with or without Xbox controller during our beta phase for free.

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