REVIEW – The more time I spend at my desk, whether for work or play, the more I appreciate stylish accessories that not only look cool but also add functionality to my setup. Whether it’s a sleek new mouse with tons of extra buttons or a retro-looking mechanical keyboard with extended media controls, as long as it fits in with my desk’s current aesthetic, I’ll happily ‘add to cart.’ The Cololight Colo Play desktop controller checked all the boxes for me, including its affordable price of $111.99. While its instructions are pretty abysmal, and not all of its features are particularly useful, the Colo Play fulfills a need I didn’t even know I had, and it looks pretty cool too.
What is it?
The Cololight Colo Play is a cyberpunk-themed desktop controller with RGB LEDs, four large programmable buttons, an oversized clickable dial, and a small LCD screen capable of displaying useful information such as your computer’s CPU, GPU, and RAM usage. The controller can access WiFi on its own, without being connected to a PC, to download updates and new apps. While the Colo Play is compatible with both Macs and PCs, some features, like computer monitoring, are not supported on Macs.
The Colo Play is packaged in a brightly illustrated box detailed with photos of the device along with technical specifications.
Custom molded plastic and foam inserts fit snugly over the Colo Play, keeping it safe during shipping.
What’s in the box?
- Colo Play Desktop Controller
- USB-A to USB-C charging cable
- User Manual
- Cololight Stickers
- Power: DC 5V 2A
- Interface: USB- C
- Operating Temperature: -5~45°C
- Operating Humidity: 5~95%
- Audio: Internal microphone and speaker
- Communication Protocol: Built-in Wi-Fi 2.4GHz
- Dimensions: 143 x 112 x 98mm
- Weight: 870g
- Color: Black
- Material: ABS, Zinc alloy
- Screen size: 1.28 inches TFT LCD
- Screen resolution: 240 x 240
- LED: 16 million RGB
- Compatibility: Mac and PC
Design and features
The Colo Play controller has a sleek, futuristic design that would fit in well on any gamer’s or office worker’s desktop. The body is composed of matte black ABS plastic with a smooth slightly textured feel.
The main feature of the Colo Play is the large, round TFT LCD screen set into the oversized clickable dial. The dial has big ridges that make it easy to adjust, and a nice clicky feel when pressed. A thin, multicolor LED strip encircles the dial.
The four large buttons on the corners of the Colo Play are easy to operate and have the same satisfying clicky feel as the dial. Each button has a small multicolor LED hash on the front.
The top of the Colo Play has smooth round edges and a small port for the internal microphone.
Both sides of the controller are identical with more smooth, rounding curves and matte plastic casing.
On the front of the Colo Play just under the lower two buttons are six small ports for the internal speaker output.
On the rear of the controller, there’s a single USB-C port for connecting the Colo Play to a computer or power source, a small button to restart the unit, and a tiny pinhole for factory resetting the Colo Play. There are also large air vents along the upper edge.
The single USB-A to USB-C cable that comes with Colo Play works fine for connecting the unit to a Mac, PC, or power brick.
When powered up, the LED lights and small TFT LCD screen really add to the aesthetic value of the Colo Play. The LEDs can be set to varying modes, colors, and brightness while the LCD screen can do everything from playing retro video games to displaying the CPU status of your connected PC.
Setting up the Colo Play first involves connecting the unit to a power source with the USB-A to USB-C cable. The controller then guides you through setting the correct language, time zone, and WiFi access point. You can make selections and enter text, such as a WiFi password, using the dial.
After the initial set up, it’s time to download the Colo Play desktop app. The app is available for Mac or PC and enables some integration with the Colo Play, such as using the unit to power on your PC via the Wake-on-Lan function, or displaying info like CPU usage.
All prompts and progress will appear on the Colo Play’s LCD screen. The font choices are a bit odd, but it’s generally easy to navigate menus using the tiny screen.
Once the app is installed, you can configure the Colo Play as much or as little as you like, diving deep into setting up macros or leaving everything on the default settings.
The Colo Play controller has a bunch of different functions of varying usefulness. One feature I wasn’t able to test is the Colo Controller, which allows the Colo Play to control other Cololight products.
If you have Cololight panels or LED strips, the Colo Play can be used as a microphone for sound-responsive lighting or act as a switch to change lighting effects and turn the Cololights on and off.
The Colo Play at its most basic works best for me as a simple clock and volume control. The LCD screen has five built-in clock faces which are okay; I tend to use one that reacts to sound picked up by the internal microphone.
Long-pressing on the upper left button brings up the Colo Play’s settings, where you can switch between the installed “apps,” change the brightness, or connect to a different WiFi point. You can also make most of these changes, as well as program the Colo Play’s buttons via the desktop app, which is a bit easier to use.
Features like the built-in replica of the Google Chrome Dino Jump game are neat, I guess, but in reality, with so many other ways to play games readily available, there’s no point in playing one on my desktop controller.
The Colo Inspire feature displays random inspirational quotes, some of them culled from popular video games.
The one feature I have absolutely no clue about is the Cyber Stove. Along with most of the other Colo Play apps, there’s no documentation of the feature to be found, and all it seems to do is display the name of different foods when you click the dial.
Other features like displaying the number of YouTube followers for a given channel or providing CPU stats for a connected PC border on the edge of usefulness but don’t provide any benefits for my use.
Overall, the Colo Play is a bit of a question mark for me. Some of the features are interesting, but a few of them, like the Cyber Stove, are real head-scratchers. While I love having it on my desktop, I rarely find myself actually using it for anything aside from the occasional volume adjustment.
What I like
- Works well as a simple volume and media controller
- Looks great on a desktop
What I’d change
- Instructions unclear and difficult to understand
- Majority of apps aren’t very useful
- Large and bulky for the amount of features it has