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Videos / 8BitDo Zero Controller Review

Whilst it might not look so distinctive in photos, the 8Bitdo Zero (not to be confused with the Pi Zero of course) is possibly the most unique of them all, and that’s because it’s actually incredibly tiny. It’s a diminutive 16mm long and 12.8mm high, and it weighs 50g. 50 GRAMS! So anyway, let’s take a look at some of the specs, and then I’ll tell you what I think.

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Hello, how are you going my name is Sam from Core Electronics and today I'm taking a look at the new controller a newish from 8BitDo, and it's the 8BitDo Zero controller and it's really cool so I'm going to take a look at some of the specs what my thoughts on it are and what things make it unique from the rest of 8-bitdo's line up almost dropped it not quite. So 8BitDo if you haven't heard of them before there are company who make recreations of really classic vintage gaming controllers, so they've already got controllers based on the NES and SNES controller systems, the Nintendo 64, and they have bought our controller of the NES and SNES, not just the NES controllers, which have analog thumb sticks on which is pretty cool too completely analog thumb sticks so you get that you know that analog movement and then feeling rather than just a binary tap on a d-pad which is pretty cool pretty cool stuff. And they've also got this little guy and I say little in the truest sense of the word it is the 8-bit do zero let's take a look can you see that my hands I have fairly normal sized hands maybe a little large but it really is quite small and it's very cool and that's the first thing you notice about it. So before we get stuck into it let's take a look at what's under the hood some of the specs, so we've got a Bluetooth connectivity as with all the 8BitDo controllers it is 16 millimeters by 12.8 millimeters by 2.7 high so it's incredibly small, there's a picture here of it compared to a 20 cent piece, really really tight. Cool stuff, so it's 50 grams weighs next to nothing 180 milliamp hour rechargeable battery so rather than different size controllers having different battery life, 8BitDo have gone for a really streamlined approach where I think pretty much every controller has an 18-hour 18-20 hour battery life and it guys no exception 180 milliamp hours very small battery get to that 18 hours of pretty much consistent playtime, it's only a one to two hours charge time, so really really nifty and it just got a micro USB port for charging there and a 180 milliamps if you've got a portable power bank portable battery it's during next to no juice something like that so it just goes and over and over and over. It's really cool. It's compatible with Windows Android and Mac OS one of the biggest barriers for some of the 8BitDo gear is that they're not MFI made for iOS or you know Apple line of portable electronics it's not MFI certified which means it doesn't act like I guess a native Bluetooth controller you'd expect because of the really strict and you know close loop methods that Apple has for its devices which work in some cases in some cases it doesn't and here 8BitDo sort of got the wrong end of the stick where their controllers want to work with all of the iOS games like their will in Android bit of a bummer there there's a series called iCade which is you know sort of like a self-contained title of various games, a collection, that it is designed to work with but that sort of slid by particular to come to the new iOS updates I'm not sure if it's still available in our store it may be but it's not super popular so support for iOS isn't great but can't have everything.

So it operates as an X input or D input, direct input for the various windows API's and you know standards that are out there, so, for example, an Xbox 360 controller works as an X input device, which has all these different features, vibration and separate joysticks, things like that whereas direct input which I think is an older platform, a few different standards it'll work with both so no worries there and then a Mac controller mode. The other cool thing is it's got a shutter mode so you can connect it up much like those Bluetooth remotes on the awful selfies sticks, ok , they are sort of cool but same concept you can use it to control the shutter on the camera on your phone which is really really nifty we've got a d-pad directional pad their start and select buttons and they're not actually labelled, just a bit annoying that starts on the right select on the left A B X Y, doesn't follow the SNES layout, follows that you know an Xbox 360 layout or if you convert the letters so the shapes into letters then it would follow a PlayStation layout as well and then you've got the two left and right buttons on the top there.

I guess the first thing I want to take a look at is the usability of it how how usable is a controller that is this small the answer is surprisingly, very, it's pretty dang it useful now as I said I've got a somewhat large hands, but I nothing too out of the ordinary and it fits quite comfortably the biggest thing you've got to get used to is that it doesn't fit into the palm of your hand like you would you know another full-size controller that you used to, instead do you hold it with your fingers so I found holding it on my arm my fore fingers there and using the index fingers there for the bumpers and you get your thumbs there for everything else works out pretty well if you keep nice and relaxed I didn't find my hands were cramping up after you know a bit of decent gameplay is quite useable which is really cool, I like that. It works exactly the way it should and they've got in the box this is the box here so one thing you know when I got stuck into what I saw it they didn't have that same you know nice, matte, laminated super nice looking packaging that the rest of 8BitDo lineup has, it's just got this plastic wrapper with a cardboard insert on the inside so you know it's designed to be super affordable and the actual controller does what it does so well so a little bit off putting perhaps of use to the standard 8BitDo stuff but not a deal-breaker so it comes with a little cloth one in which I placed with the metal key chains putting my keys because it is so small I can click this guy on it and it fits comfortably in your pocket, really neat. And comes with they call it a micro USB cable, it's a micro-micro USB cable probably more of a dongle if anything okay it's good for connecting up to to computer and again not to nitpick it's a really small detail but you plug it into the USB port and the controller actually faces down, in hindsight, could have been better if it was rotated 180 degrees them because he is a flat cable it doesn't rotate as easily as a standard, I guess circular diameter cable but again not a huge deal I'm just so usability, check, very usable although it's not going to be as comfortable as a full-sized controller it's designed that if you're on the train or on a bus you can grab it out play something on your phone just you know grab a couple places and friends on a computer that sort of thing not so serious gaming of course, but again super cool.

The build quality again I mentioned the packaging or sort of is this going to be as good as their other wants to build quality 8BitDo it generally is fantastic really nicely designed you know buttons that are responsive feel like the genuine you know vintage control like you've just unboxed it, so really really cool there and stoked to say it is as good it feels as good there's no sponging here in the buttons were sort of sound when you're pressing them but then responsively have got a really nice tactile click to them the d-pad responds really well no matter where you press, so you press right on the edge versus in a bit more you still get a really nice clicky response, bumpers, audible click there, start and select standard buttons so works really well nothing soft about the controls on this guys they're not rubberized if you're in you know if that's your thing they're just the same plastic as the shell, and hey you can't have everything. And I think they're pretty cool and the build quality is quite good as I said you know there's no flex probably because it's such a small device with no flex that way and if you're pressing it on the back, the shell doesn't it doesn't really bend or give that all so it's nice, nice thick casing on that which is good spite the diminutive proportions just cool.

So connecting it is as easy as any other 8BitDo device you know you hold start for 2 seconds and will turn on so press that there and you can see there's a blue light that will come on and it will just blink slowly when it's not connected to anything that it's on and as you saw there for a moment it will blink rapidly when it's in pairing mode looking for a device and I've got this connected up to the laptop at the moment here, I had it on a Raspberry Pi running RetroPie before and it goes a solid blue when it is connected and will stay on there and then turn it off you just press and hold the start button again for 2 seconds, it'll blink green to let you know that it's powering off and then the light turns on and then to put it in the pairing mode you are press and hold select, so yeah it's pretty cool, very very cool very easy to connect, and we'll have a separate tutorial up for all of the different connection modes you know what button combinations you need to press to get into this mode and that mode for all the 8BitDo controllers so check that out if you if you're looking for that and if you want to know a bit more about the 8BitDo controllers in general, how to pair them with RetroPi, how to configure the controller mapping in a Retroarch system, everything like that then check out those specific tutorials I'll put a link in there which goes to our RetroPi category with all the 8BitDo stuff in there I put a some stuff up here on the led status mode so just as a quick reminders when it's flashing red the battery below when it's flashing green it'll be charging some and so forth.

So my final thoughts are it is awesome, I got one as a review, sat down had 10 minutes with it and bought this one made of my own put on my keychain because it's super handy it's sort of like fun to have just such a little game controller even as I'm speaking kind of comes to playing around with it because it's really neat and 8BitDo are updating, they are updating the firmware all the time for these guys so there's the support I believe now for the Nintendo switch all sorts of different platforms because they just do use Bluetooth, so upgradeable firmware, again there's a tutorial for that so check that out if you get one of these they'll be up on the website really soon if not now then let us know your thoughts I'd love to hear you know what you guys are using them for if you want you can definitely hook this up to you know an Arduino, or an Raspberry Pi or something like that and use it to control robot or a platform some sort of project you got on so heaps of possibilities beyond just game pad. That's all, for now, guys check out some of our other 8BitDo Retropie tutorials and see you later