The ultimate in geek batteries, USB powered AA cells, meets the Nintendo Wiimote head on.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out USB Cell Batteries then take a second to have a look. Essentially they’re rechargeable batteries that you can plug into a standard NiMH charger or a free USB port. They run a little light at 1300mah and a little pricey at $20 for a two pack, but can’t be beat for the cool factor. I received 4 of them as presents, so I’m pleased as punch at my out of pocket cost.
Operation is simple, plug it into any powered USB port and the battery will glow green while charging, will flash at 90% and will stop flashing when filled. Directions say batteries take 5 hours to charge but personal experience makes it seem more like 2-3. Like every other battery on the planet, usage will vary depending on device.
I tested one set out on Madden 07 for the Wii. It utilizes both the accelerometer and pointer functions, so it’ll drain the batteries as fast as possible. After about 5.5 hours of gameplay I still have 2 bars remaining on my Wiimote (assuming 5 bars = 100%, I should have about 40% remaining). We could probably roughly extrapolate the numbers to about 10 hours of average usage, 7 of power intense usage. Just about what you’d expect from a good set of batteries.
Now, top that off with the fact that you can easily recharge overnight in any USB port and you have, basically, all of your battery troubles cleared up. What’s that you say? There’s USB ports on the Wii? Right you are! However, the batteries are just a little too big to fit both in there. A trip to the neighborhood $1 store nets you USB extension cords and now you have a Wii that will charge Wiimote batteries.
The only real problems are the price. 4 sets of batteries will cost you $80, which is a tough hit to take considering you can buy a mountain of standard rechargeable batteries for the same amount. Top that off with not always having 8 free USB ports, might make you have to go pick up a USB hub for another $20. So is $100 worth not having to buy batteries for your Wiimote ever (hopefully) again? Not the optimal solution, but a very cool one. Hopefully USB cells will be dropping in price soon so they can compete as a best option. Still, being able to charge Wiimote batteries wherever you are with the system (friend’s house, vacation, etc) without having to drag along a battery charger is a fantastic thing. For now, only technophiles need apply.