Microsoft has said that it’s getting its act together in PC gaming on no less than three separate occasions. The third time, no one believed them. Really, after the disaster that was Games for Windows Live, I’m not sure they believed it themselves. If Microsoft wanted to be taken seriously in console game it had to actually deliver on its promises to treat the PC like a first-class citizen in its ecosystem. It’s with that in mind that you can truly appreciate the small wonder that is the Xbox Wireless Adapter. I know, I never thought Microsoft would do the obvious and provide accessory support for gaming on Windows.
The Xbox Wireless Adapter is for the smart shopper in us all. The $24 accessory allows you to take many of the add-ons you’ve purchased for your Xbox One and connect them to your Windows PC wirelessly. With the device plugged in you can turn your Windows 10 equipped device into an unofficial Xbox One.
So far, I’m enamored with the Xbox Wireless Adapter. I’m also a bit perplexed by some of the decisions Microsoft made with it.
Xbox Wireless Adapter Review: Design & Durability
Design & Durability
The adapter almost looks like an oversized USB flash drive from a less than tech savvy department stores. It’s blocky and black, with only a USB port, Xbox logo and glowing white indicator light to break up its charcoal black exterior. The shell of the accessory is made of matte plastic. This plastic doesn’t feel like it can take a beating, but it does match the Xbox One console. Certainly, folks should be able to break it under normal circumstances.
I don’t much care for the way this thing looks, but that’s ok. I do worry a little about how much space the device takes up. Microsoft must worry about that too, it includes a USB extension cable with the device so that you don’t end up with three USB ports blocked because you’ve plugged them with the adapter.
Xbox Wireless Adapter Review: How it Works
The Xbox Wireless Adapter is an accessory made necessary by Microsoft’s refusal to embrace Bluetooth for its controllers and accessories. The Xbox One is a really a gaming PC, but Microsoft wants to control how accessories interact with it. The theory is, better control over what’s out there lets them keep the experience great. That’s thinking I can get behind, but this policy made an adapter to use your Xbox One Wireless Controller with your PC a requirement. No one really wants to plug their controller into their computer with a micro-USB cable. This is 2015 not 1864.
Plug the Xbox Wireless Adapter into a port and your PC does the rest. Really, I should be more specific; your Windows 10 PC does the rest. Microsoft limits this adapter to devices running its latest operating system. The accessory works hand-in-hand with the Xbox app for Windows that we thought we’d never get.
A tiny black pairing button sits on top of the Xbox Wireless Adapter so that you can pair it with your wireless Xbox One accessories. Press that button and the matching button on your accessory to get going. Xbox One controllers simply work with the accessory without any extra software updates. Microsoft says that users can connect up to eight different controllers or 4 Xbox One Wireless Controllers with Chat Headsets. The adapter only supports two stereo headset connections at a time.
You can’t navigate Windows 10 with the controller, meaning you’ll still need to use your mouse to navigate to the game you’ll want to play. Microsoft hasn’t added any shortcuts for accessing the Xbox app either. Instead, pushing the glowing orb on the Xbox One controller brings up the Gamesbar, a dedicated add-on for recording video and capturing screenshots while inside the game.
When in a game, the Xbox One Wireless Controller performs just as well as it does connected to an Xbox One. An app in the Xbox One store called Xbox Accessories, provides updates for your wireless controller, which have to be done with a USB cable on Windows PCs it seems. Microsoft actually blocks you from using this same app to monitor customize your controller layout on anything but the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller. A lack of customization software means you may be stuck using third-party software to get your controller working, which isn’t ideal at all.
Reception on the Xbox Wireless Adapter is pretty great, easily it’s enough for an entire room’s length. I didn’t notice big drops in responsiveness farther away.
Xbox Wireless Adapter Review: The Verdict
It’s pretty hard to not recommend the Xbox Wireless Adapter. It’s ugly and way too big. Less than optimal girth and aesthetics aside, it’s a functional adapter that delivers exactly what it’s supposed to. You can take your Xbox One accessories into your office as well as your living room.
Don’t look now, but Microsoft might actually be serious about PC gaming.