If there’s a theme of the last two years it’s that mobility is king. People want to take what they’ve bought on the road, and they want to play where they want to play and not be tied down to a console at home. Valve agrees, giving us the Steamdeck. Sony agrees, gearing up to launch the Portal to take your PlayStation 5 on the go. Working through their Kickstarter, ELO Gaming Sports has announced the ELO Vagabond — a control device that lets you use your phone as your display device, letting you tap into all of the native and streaming services with a device you already have in your pocket. But wait…we’ve already got those kinds of devices, right? Well, ELO it aiming to push to the next level.
If there’s one problem from every other phone controller on the market, it’s that they’re as clunky as they are inaccurate. ELO Gaming is aiming to solve for both with the ELO Vagabond. The Vagabond eschews the thick wing shape that most of these devices have, instead effectively cracking a real controller in half. This should eliminate the hand cramping so common with mobile gaming platforms over long gaming sessions.
In addition, the team is pushing to eliminate some other common sources of frustration. Focusing on a few problems you’ve likely heard of such as stick drift, latency, Bluetooth instability, mushy bumpers, poor triggers, and poor compatibility, the team has pulled in top-tier hardware for each. Microswitch bumpers, full-sized hall effect sensor joysticks and triggers, 3 million cycle microswitch buttons, and a direct physical cable connection to eliminate responsiveness issues and Bluetooth drops, plus a hyper-flexible system for what seems like every phone on the market should tick every single box all of us have rolled our eyes at in recent memory. Couple that with thousands of hours of testing and it seems that ELO is aiming their sights very high with the ELO Vagabond.
The second half of the challenge with these sorts of devices is overall software compatibility. To help players connect with their content, they’ve also built an app called Unleashed. We’ll have to see how well that works in practice, but if it’s anything like my Steamdeck, it’s going to get a whole lot of use with things like the Xbox and PlayStation Remote Play stores, GeForce Now, and Steam Link. Couple that with an unheard of LIFETIME WARRANTY and I’m pretty floored by this device already.
The best news is that you don’t have to wait long. The team is well into production and will be ready to ship in January of 2024. The Austin-based team seems to be onto something, so look for our review soon, and don’t miss out on the Early Bird opportunities on Kickstarter!
Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.
Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.
Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 27 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).