I think that the few bad attributes of 5200 controllers have been WAY over-exaggerated. I suspect that too many gamers trust what people say on the Internet (or what the AVGN says) and never even allow themselves the opportunity to actually try out Atari 5200 games. I do not doubt the Video Game Critic's gaming knowledge and experience, but I think his 5200 console review too is far too harsh on the controllers. I really respect Atari for trying something new with this console rather than simply aping the enormously successful VCS with its shallow digital controls. The result of their efforts was a very interesting and nuanced albeit flawed input device.
My only real quibble with the 5200 controller is that the buttons are prone to malfunction. If you have a Phillips-head screwdriver and a steady hand, however, they are not difficult to repair.
I do not find the analog stick to be more fragile or prone to breakage than those of other 1st-party controllers of the time. Nor am I at all perturbed by the fact that the joystick does not self-center. In my experience, it has no real impact upon gameplay at all.
I find that the controllers provide a great degree of precision for games which lend themselves to analog controls, such as Missile Command and Defender, making them much more fun to play than their VCS counterparts. Admittedly, I only own 7 5200 games as of now, but I look forward to trying more. Games that lend themselves more to digital controls (such as Berzerk or Pac-Man) aren't really as laborious to play as most people claim. They are certainly easier to play with the 5200 controller than almost any 7800 game using the 7800 controller. The 7800 controller is probably my least favorite controller of all time simply because there is no good way to hold it. The same really applies to the Intellivision controller as well, although I have to appreciate Mattel's innovative implementation of a 16-way digital pad. I have come up with many comfortable ways of holding the 5200 controller. I rarely experience strain (as I always do with the 7800 controller), even when playing intense games like Defender.