The pad fits well in your hands and for the most part it's the equal of the pack-in pad. The shiny surface is lightly textured and painted and it feels more metallic than the Microsoft pad. The only thing that doesn't feel right are the shoulder triggers: they're smaller and don't have as much movement as the original. It's not a huge problem and I've never felt like my analogue accuracy was suffering, but you never really forget that they're weird. The original 360 pad has a strangely complicated mechanism connecting the shoulder to the potentiometers inside, and this pad doesn't.
I've been playing with this pad a lot, and I find it every bit the equal of the original, but for one fairly serious problem: the triggers do not respond to sharp taps. They're perfectly happy being slammed around, and punching the throttle in Hydro Thunder is reliable, but they will not respond at all if you smack them and release them quickly. Now you might wonder when you'll be smacking the shoulders like this, 'cause it sounds silly.
But that's how you launch smartbombs in Geometry Wars.
The shoulders completely fail to function if you pull 'em all the way in and release 'em immediately, and it's not really common to need a bomb when you've got lots of time to just sit and hold the triggers and wait for the boom. The first time it happened I doubted my reflexes. The second time I furrowed my brow, but the third time I knew something was up. They just don't work that way.
Once I found the A button stopped working. After much screaming and ranting I realized I'd nudged the turbo switch and it was between positions, resulting in nothing at all. Annoying once, but it won't happen again.
For 2D games you can't really go wrong. XBLA Lode Runner was actually fun instead of intensely annoying. Bionic Commando felt perfect and I really appreciated the accuracy of a well-built pad.
But you cannot count on the shoulder buttons for sharp tapping actions. For throttle and brake, no problem. No lag, no miss, no worries, buy with confidence. I use it for almost all my gaming now, and it's nice having a cable instead of constantly finding the batteries need charging again.
When it comes to Geometry Wars though I use the normal pad. A sad failure in an otherwise excellent pad.
More images here in the NFGcontrols gallery.
This pad works fine under Windows (Win7 tested).
Hori US page
Check out Otacracy's review of the Hori EX2 six-button pad