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ups: Nice sharp screen; rubberized grips; works fairly well with all genres; high
downs: Bad sound; stiff buttons; dangerous rumble feature; high price tag; not very practical.

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Hip Screen Pad Review (PS2)
game: Hip Screen Pad
three star
posted by: Eric Qualls
publisher: Hip Interactive
date posted: 09:10 AM Sat Feb 1st, 2003
last revision: 05:30 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

In case you haven\'t seen this monstrosity before, the Hip Screen Pad is a game controller with a monitor built into it that allows you to play games without a TV. It is available for the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube now for the price of $100. This review is for the Playstation 2 version of the Hip Screen Pad, and I\'m sure the Xbox and GC versions will handle a bit differently, so don\'t think what I\'m saying about the PS2 version represents all of them. Got it? Good.

Now I\'m no big city peripheral designer, but it seems to me that if you are going to add anything to a game controller, the controller itself had better be worth owning. A controller has to be comfortable and it has to perform its function well. Once you\'ve got that, then adding robot arms or a foosball table or a little TV screen or whatever you want is easy to pull off. Sadly, that is the biggest problem with the Hip Screen Pad: It isn\'t a very good PS2 controller.

The Hip Screen Pad is shaped exactly like a Dual Shock 2 controller save a few key differences. It is slightly larger and quite a bit heavier, but these things don\'t really hurt it. The buttons are in the same positions as a Dual Shock except the Start and Select buttons have been moved slightly and there are turbo fire buttons as well. The buttons themselves are the problem here. The buttons are stiff and do not offer precise enough analog control for my liking. You have to literally press the buttons all the way down before anything happens, unlike the Dual Shock where light button presses are enough to get the job done. You get used to it after a while, but even then it doesn\'t offer precise enough analog control. Playing Metal Gear Solid 2 or Gran Turismo 3 or any game that relies heavily on analog control is extremely difficult with this controller. Another major problem with the Hip Screen Pad is the directional pad. Like all of the other buttons, the d-pad is extremely stiff. To put it simply, it is just plain uncomfortable to use. The analog sticks perform well, though, but are hard to press down just like all of the other buttons.

Like all controllers these days, the Hip Screen Pad has a rumble feature. However, for the first time in my life, I was actually afraid the controller was going to explode in my hands because of it. I was playing Tony Hawk\'s Pro Skater 4, a game that has quite a lot of rumbling going on in it, and the controller started making horrible noises. The motors inside the controller are extremely loud and aside from the buzzing, there were also a lot of clicky noises as the controller rattled around. The vibration was so severe that it nearly shook the controller out of my hands. After that, I made sure to turn the vibration feature off before I used the unit.

The real star of the show on the Hip Screen Pad, though, is the 2.6\" screen that allows you to play games or watch DVDs without a TV. The screen is mounted on a pivot that allows you to position the screen at whatever angle you want and then you can lock it in place. You can adjust the color, brightness, and contrast of the screen and once you have everything set the way you want it, the screen is actually pretty good. It produces a surprisingly clear and sharp picture that makes almost any game easy to see. It is sometimes hard to read text on the screen, so RPGs or any other games with a lot of text aren\'t the best games to use with the Hip Screen Pad. Every other genre I tried worked great, though. DVD movies also look pretty good on the tiny screen. Don\'t expect a crystal clear picture, but for the size of the unit, the picture that the Hip Screen Pad does produce is rather impressive.

There are also speakers mounted on either side of the screen along with a headphone jack, but the sound it produces doesn\'t come close to matching the high quality video. The sound that the speakers produce is muddy and is downright awful. It manages to capture most of the bass and some of the higher pitched tones, but everything else is drowned out. Plugging headphones into the unit helps out quite a bit, but everything still sounds a bit tinny and, quite simply, bad.

Hooking the controller up to your PS2 is more complicated than just slapping it into one of the controller ports, but it is still pretty easy. There is one cord going out from the controller itself that splits into three separate cables. One hooks into a controller port, one hooks directly do the A/V output on the back of the PS2 (with a pass-through connector so you can hook more than one Hip Screen Pad to one PS2) and the third cable goes to an AC adapter that you have to plug into a wall outlet. Once it is all hooked up, all you have to do is turn the screen on and boot up your PS2 game or DVD of choice.

The final, and most damning, blow to the Hip Screen Pad comes from a lack of practicality. You can buy adapters that allow you to plug your PS2 and the Hip Screen Pad into the cigarette lighter in your car so you can play it on the road, but I\'m not too sure how well the PS2 would perform on bumpy roads. The PSOne might do all right, though. If you are dead set on taking your PS2 with you on the road, then you would probably be better off getting one of the bigger screens available that hook directly to the back of the system. They cost about the same amount of money and would provide a much better experience than the Hip Screen Pad can provide. If you are absolutely desperate, it will get the job done, but there are other ways to keep yourself entertained on the way to (or at) the next family reunion.

Overall, the Hip Screen Pad features a nice screen with crappy sound all mounted on a junky controller. If you are absolutely desperate, you can get used to it\'s faults and learn to like it. There are a lot of other options out there, though, so unless it drops down in price, the Hip Screen Pad isn\'t really worth your money. The high price is entirely due to the high quality video screen, but the rest of the package doesn\'t meet that same high standard and that is what is the downfall of the unit. I do like the rubberized grips on the back of the controller, and the cool factor of it is very high, but as a video game controller, the Hip Screen Pad is only average. If you\'re desperate, and can afford the $100 price tag (and can\'t find one of the bigger screens), then check it out.