TechSpot means tech analysis and advice you can trust. Read our ethics statement.
In context: Turtle Beach is best known for its high-end gaming headsets but has maintained a small line of Xbox/PC gamepads for a couple of years. They are primarily knockoffs of the stock Xbox Series controllers priced between $40 and $80. Their main drawback is that they lack wireless connectivity.
Turtle Beach is ready to change that weakness with a new premium eSports controller called the Stealth Ultra. Unlike the React-R ($40), Recon ($60), and Recon Cloud ($80), the Stealth is priced at $200, with pre-orders already in effect. Its price point puts it in direct competition with other premium pro controllers like the Xbox Elite Series 2 ($180) and DualSense Edge ($200).
Probably the most important selling point for the Stealth is that it is wireless – sort of. It cannot pair directly with Xbox Series consoles. Instead, it uses a USB-A transmitter/charging dock that users plug into their Xbox. For other devices like PCs, Smart TVs, and Android phones or tablets, users can pair it natively through Bluetooth without using the dock. It also comes with a more portable dongle in case you don't want to disconnect your dock.
Another feature that will resonate with customers is its Hall effect analog thumbsticks. To avoid delving into the mechanics of the Hall effect, let's just say the Stealth Ultra's joysticks are virtually drift-proof. Considering all current console gamepads and many first- and third-party controllers, including Sony's and Xbox's premium entries and Nintendo's Joy-Cons, have been plagued with drift issues for years, gamers should rejoice for this feature.
Try not to laugh, but Turtle Beach has thrown in a third feature that is so gimmicky you almost can't call it a gimmick because almost nobody will use the 1.5-inch "social notifications" screen. That's right. Now you don't have to worry about missing that picture of Nana's gorgeous pumpkin pie she made for Christmas dinner because if you pair the Stealth with your phone, all your social media notifications will appear on the tiny controller screen, letting you know you should pause your game and pick up your phone.
However, the screen allows users to control some of the gamepad's functions, like selecting button profiles and lighting effects. So it's not entirely useless.
Kidding aside, the Stealth does have some other redeemable features, including adjustable trigger stops, easy customization with the Turtle Beach Control Center app, a 3.5mm audio jack with audio tuning features, and "vibration feedback."
More importantly, it has four mappable microswitch buttons on the rear for those who prefer having their triggers on the back. They are also ideal for PC players who want four extra buttons for games, like RPGs that have too many skills/spells for a standard controller to handle.
Turtle Beach topped off the design with "intelligent" RGB lighting. The multicolored strips highlight the grips with 16.8 million colors and effects. However, the most intelligent thing about the lighting is turning it off. Extraneous lighting like this inevitably erodes battery life. Plus, your hands obscure the strips while playing. So, most users will probably opt to have the fancy lights turned off, but for those who like the bling factor, it's there.
Lastly, the Stealth Ultra comes with a little perk that most other premium controllers lack – a hard-shell traveling case. The case is durable and ideal for throwing in a suitcase or backpack. Best of all, there is space for the charging dock, cables, and the included spare thumbcaps. It also has a built-in charging slot.
For $200, the Turtle Beach Stealth Ultra is a decent value for what you get – at least on paper. We'll have to see some proper reviews before knowing how good a deal it really is.
That said, Turtle Beach has a solid reputation, so it's likely a safe holiday pick for those itching for a new gamepad. However, Microsoft currently has its Elite marked down to $140, beating the Stealth's undiscounted pre-order price by $60. Stealth Ultra pre-orders ship on December 15.