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Hands-on with the new PlayStation 3 controller

Tuesday 9 May 2006
It was the moment all of videogaming-dom has been waiting for since last E3: Sony president Ken Kutaragi on the stage of Sony's pre-E3 press conference officially announced that the boomerang-shaped PS3 controller revealed last year was officially dead.

Not only that, but the new controller design wasn't actually very new at all. When he trotted it out and said, "This is the final PlayStation 3 controller," the audience actually laughed. It turns out the PS3 controller looks incredibly like the same DualShock controller we've known and loved for years, only with a big PlayStation-logo button in the middle.

However, it packs in some new tricks and to demonstrate Sony Computer Entertainment chief Phil Harrison took the stage and started up a demo. On screen, a box labelled "Do not open until E3" shook and fell apart, revealing a 3D version of the controller.



Above: The new PS3 controller will be motion-sensitive, but it won't vibrate

Harrison lifted up the real one and the on-screen one rose as well. Harrison tilted his controller, and the one on-screen tilted. That's right: thanks to a six-axis internal gyroscope, the PS3 pad is motion-sensitive, not entirely unlike the two-piece wand that makes Nintendo's Wii such an unusual duck.

The controller also boasts a USB port on top, which we're guessing is used to recharge the internal batteries that power the Bluetooth-powered wireless connectivity.

As for the mysterious PlayStation button that sits between the analogue sticks, although its purpose is still to be officially confirmed by Sony, insiders told us that it would indeed be used to access Sony's online service in the same way as the guide button on the Xbox 360 controller.

The lower shoulder buttons, R2 and L2, look almost as if they've been turned into triggers - they clearly have a bit more give. Sony didn't address this during the conference, and we actually didn't notice much of a difference when we held it ourselves. We're hoping for at least some analogue sensitivity, though we would definitely have preferred a full-blown trigger.

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