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Making a custom Xbox One S controller with Design Lab is painless but pricey

Microsoft is allowing those who want a custom Xbox One S controller the opportunity to do so through its Xbox Design Lab. While the price might be high for a custom controller, the entire experience was easy and completely painless.


It was at E3 2016 where Microsoft announced a new Xbox One controller would allow its owner to customize it any way they like. Microsoft promises over 8 million ways to make each Xbox One S controller unique, which is made possible through its Xbox Design Lab program. And with orders currently being taken and shipping out in September 2016, I was lucky enough to have my order sent early so I could show off  share my experience as well as review the new Xbox One S controller.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

The new Xbox One S controller is more than just a pretty face that I was able to customize from head to toe as Microsoft made a number of improvements to how it feels. One of the first things I noticed when picking up the controller was the slight texture to the rear side of its handles. The texturing begins where the top and rear portion of the controller’s shell connect, and run all the way to the back just short of middle where its batteries are located. While I didn’t lose much grip when playing with the original Xbox One controller, I feel like I have much better handling of the Xbox One S controller thanks to this slight addition.

Some other changes include bumpers that require less effort to tap in a command, a more prominent Wireless Enrollment button, and a more streamlined Xbox One button with a complete plastic enclosure. While the middle of the Xbox button is made to look like the same material as the controller, it’s made of the same plastic as the button itself, which I think looks really slick.

While I found there to be no difference between the Xbox One and the Xbox One S controller’s triggers, face buttons, or analog sticks, I did noticed the D-Pad is slightly easier to press and isn’t as loud when used. Both the Menu and View buttons are easier to press, although those changes aren’t as significant as some of the other changes.

If Looks Could Kill

The process of building a personalized Xbox One S controller was painless through the use of Microsoft’s Xbox Design Lab. Once I decided to design my own controller, I was given complete creative control over how your controller looks. A total of fifteen colors are available to select for the controller’s body, bumpers & triggers, D-Pad, and back. The thumbsticks have eight color options, the ABXY buttons have five color options, and the View & Menu buttons have just four options.

While I was building my custom controller, I was able to view it at all angles as the Xbox Design Lab allowed me to spin it around. This helped me see how my color customization blended together in a way that I thought best. I’m very partial to navy blue, so I decided to slap it onto the body of the controller, while making pretty much everything else white to help make the blue really stand out.

Now that I have my color scheme selected, Microsoft gave me the option to give my Xbox One S controller even more customization by adding a laser engraving for $10 more. I decided to engrave the controller with “The Beebs” which is sort of a nickname of a nickname that I have.

Prior to completing my purchase, the lab gives me an overview of the custom Xbox One S controller. I’m given multiple angles, many of which are closeup, of my controller. Since I was quite pleased with how it came out, I decided to complete my purchase.

The result? Well - see it for yourself:

It’s Alive!

One major complaint most will have in purchasing an Xbox One S controller through the Xbox Design Lab is its price. $79.99 for a custom controller may seem pricey. On the other hand, depending on where you shop around, there are some services that already offer a custom Xbox One controller for the same price or more than what Microsoft is asking for it. Also - those custom controllers will most likely be based on the previous Xbox One model, which doesn’t have all of the slight improvements the Xbox One S controller has.

At the end of the day, it’s completely up to you whether or not you feel comfortable spending that much for a custom controller. But if you are, then I recommend having Microsoft handle it for you considering how painless its Xbox Design Lab was to work with and how premium it felt when I placed it in my hands.

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