The Hori Split Pad Compact is a great portable controller

Hori’s Split Pad Compact is my new favorite controller for handheld gaming on the Nintendo Switch. It has everything you could want in a Joy-Con replacement: great sticks, a real D-pad, loads of triggers, reusable buttons on the back and best of all, some truly sublime ergonomics. After spending the last month using the Split Pad Compact almost daily, I can say that I will never go back to any other handheld controllers or grips that I own.

As a frame of reference, I have quite a few different options, which I have switched between so far. hori is amazing Split Pad Pro was my favorite for a while. Earlier this year I started using NexiGo Gripcon and joystick (both are solid). I have also tried different Switch grips, e.g mounted case handles and larger handles with conventional handles such as ZenGrip Pro from Satisfye.

Hori’s Split Pad Compact takes everything I love about many of the different controllers I’ve tried and puts it into one sleek package.

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The Split Pad Compact is functionally the same as the Split Pad Pro, so if you’re happy with the existing Hori handle, there’s really no need to upgrade. The difference between the two is the size of the controller. The name already tells you this fact, but the Split Pad Compact is a scaled down and slimmed down iteration of the Split Pad Pro. It gives a completely different form factor.

Instead of thick, conventional-looking grips, the Split Pad Compact looks like a larger Joy-Con on the front. The back of each controller is where it gets its wonderful ergonomics, with a curved design that supports your palms and fingers. The main problem with the standard Joy-Cons is that they are flat, which made them uncomfortable for me pretty quickly. The Split Pad Compact completely solves this problem while maintaining a relatively small form factor.

The Split Pad Compact is ideal for those who find other Joy-Con replacements just too bulky. This was my biggest complaint about the Split Pad Pro. It was a bit too bulky.

With the smaller form factor comes some other small changes. Analog sticks, face buttons and triggers are marginally smaller than the Pro version. They’re still taller than the Joy-Con inputs, and you still get better analog controls than short Joy-Con controllers. That said, if you have big thumbs, the Split Pad Pro is probably still the best option. Meanwhile, the Split Pad Compact’s large D-pad looks and feels almost exactly the same as the Split Pad Pro’s.

In addition to the standard inputs, the Split Pad Compact also has a pair of rear triggers (FR and FL). They are conveniently placed where my middle finger rests while holding down the switch, making them feel natural and easy to use. These can be mapped on the fly with the “Assign” button. Like the Pro version, the Compact also has Turbo functionality – automatic tap/shoot at different speeds – which can be assigned to buttons on either side of the controller.

The controller lacks a few features found in Joy-Con controllers. It doesn’t offer rumble, motion control, NFC support or an IR camera. The Split Pad is powered by the Switch console itself, meaning it won’t work when detached from the tablet. The Split Pad Compact is strictly for handheld gaming, but that’s really not a criticism. It does what it sets out to do very well.

The Split Pad Compact is officially licensed by Nintendo and can be ordered now at Best Buy for $50. It will be available at Walmart and Target at a later date. Two color combinations are available: grey/yellow and apricot red.

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