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PowerA’s new Xbox controller has an IR blaster for some reason

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Accessory maker PowerA seems to know that RGB gamer lights are all the rage, but its new Xbox controller and LED strips have very strong “We have gamer lights at home!” vibes.

PowerA’s new RGB-infused peripheral is the Advantage Wired Controller for Xbox Series X / S with Lumectra. It’s a $44.99 wired gamepad available in black or white with some nice sounding features, like hair triggers, two customizable rear buttons, four-zone RGB lighting with three preprogrammed modes, and a detachable USB-C cable (a nice upgrade over PowerA’s cheaper models still plagued by Micro USB ports).

That all sounds well and good, but the new wired Advantage also has some wireless tech — no, it doesn’t have any official Xbox wireless connectivity like PowerA put into its MOGA XP-Ultra mobile controller — but instead, it has a friggin’ IR blaster. “Why?” you ask? Well, isn’t it obvious that it’s for controlling a new range of non-smart LED strips called Lumectra?

If you look at this and think “needs more RGB,” PowerA is here for you.
Image: PowerA

PowerA’s Lumectra LED strips launching alongside the controller come in two flavors: one is a four-foot RGB LED strip you can get bundled with the Advantage for $54.99, and the other is a standalone 18-foot RGB LED strip PowerA is selling for $19.99. Both strips can be controlled by the Advantage’s IR blaster, while the 18-foot model also comes with its own generic-looking IR remote control.

I’ve tested many PowerA game controllers, and I’ve found most of them to be capital-F Fine. The company typically offers more than competent products, excellent customer service (bordering on being a little Extra), and even some premium features trickled down to cheaper models for a better value. But these Lumectra light strips, frankly, look like cheap-o generic LED strips from no-name brands found on Amazon or AliExpress.

Come on, what are we doing here?
Image: PowerA

I’ve already started testing the existing non-RGB version of the Advantage Controller for a future update to our Xbox controller buying guide, sans IR blaster. It’s a very competent wired controller for Xbox and PC, offering a low price for a gamepad with additional rear buttons and three-stage trigger lockouts for firing off faster shots in FPS games. But I never once thought while using it, “You know what I really need to be doing right now? Controlling some dumb lights.”

There may be folks out there who find $55 for a controller and some simple strip lights worthwhile for a basic gamer-y setup (and we all know they’ll go on get discounts soon enough), but my esteemed colleague Umar Shakir has a simple alternative for his own generic LEDs that’s cheaper and even more wireless:

You can even use the fancy washi tape of your own choosing.
Photo by Umar Shakir / The Verge

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