Seems that the Ramblings concept hit a chord among the readers, as feedback was some 95% positive. It's so nice not to get tons of flame mail over an article that I think a second article is in order.
Speaking of positive responses, I had a chance to get my hands on the Japanese version of the Xbox controller, and I have to say, it blows away the US version. Check out the pics below to get an idea of the size and layout of the Japanese version:
Face To Face
Side By Side
The first image shows the controller in all its glory. Each thumb-stick has a large indentation with four rubber bumps to help ensure a good grip. They work very well and are more comfortable than the smaller indentations on the US controller, and it felt like the rubber on the Japanese controller was more supple and as a result fingers were less sore.
The D-pad on the Japanese controller felt much more comfortable than the US version, particularly during heavy use, and the diamond orientation of the four primary buttons on the right side of the pad was much easier to get used to and made gaming more error-free.
The odd white and black buttons on the US controller are still on the Japanese controller, but they have been moved down to the right of the analog stick. Frankly, I don't even see the need for these extra buttons, but if you have to have them, the Japanese controller does have a much better placement. The same goes for the start and back buttons on the Japanese controllers.
Thanks to the shape of the grips, the Japanese pad feels more comfortable and secure, particularly when accessing the triggers on the underside of the controller. I still think Fusion Frenzy is a garbage game, but at least when using the Japanese controller, you can walk away without your hands feeling cramped and pained.
The connection wires seemed about the same, and there were still two slots for cards on the back of the unit, so the Japanese controller looks to be on par with the US version in terms of functionality. I think if Microsoft opted to make this controller available in the US, it would be a smash-hit. Kids could get a better grip on things, and adults would have less change of goofing up their "remote control-friendly" fingers and thumbs. The US version may look cooler and play better for some, but I honestly think if you tried both side by side, the Japanese release would come out ahead.