The D-pad does however take a step back with the hat style - that plastic cap with the cross cut into it, losing some of the precision of the 4 independent buttons. The other buttons have a great feel for the most part. They have a weighty push and snappy spring back, with the only exception being the L1 and R1 bumpers which are a little mushy. They just sink into the controller and don't provide the best feedback that you've depressed the button fully. The push back on the triggers is a marked improvement though, especially if you enjoy playing any shooters on your PS3.
The controller housing itself has fattened up and it is elongated compared to the regular DualShock. Where the controller rests in your hands is going to vary based on hand size. On the SC-1, I found my thumbs and index fingers naturally fell across the shoulder and face buttons. This lead to a much more comfortable feeling, and playing games with lots of repetitive button presses, like God of War, was a less tiresome and hand cramping endeavor. There's also a rubberized coating added to the whole surface, rather than the smooth plastic feel. I found it slightly softer and easier to grip.
In addition to all the standards, there are a few expanded features to the SC-1. I ended up liking the controller more for its overall feel, but the right gamer might appreciate these extras. There's a turbo button and a pair of programmable buttons to give you an edge in certain genres, for instance programming in a finishing move or special attack for your favorite fighter. You can even adjust the thumbstick sensitivity on the fly, which could be useful for making long distance sniping a bit easier. Also, while not necessarily a special feature, the battery stood up well to repeated long play sessions without the need for charging.
The only real problem with the controller was the lack of support for Sixaxis Motion Controls. Not every game requires it, but fellow editor Josh Vanderwall shared a funny story about not being able to shake his flashlight back to action during a tense situation in The Last of Us. The controller also does require the use of a USB dongle, so that will be an issue if you're otherwise using all the USB ports on your PS3.
Bottomline: A solid improvement to the DualShock 3.
Recommendation: If you plan to continue to playing games on the PlayStation 3 into the next-gen and would like a more comfortable controller, then give Gioteck's SC-1 a look.