Top positive review
50 people found this helpful
Worthwhile addition to your Wii accessory
on August 27, 2011
So far, so good. A few notes:
1. Installation is easy. Easier than putting in new AA batteries. It can only go in one way and it's relatively sturdy, so even if you try to put it in the wrong way, you'll probably not break it. You could if you really try, of course, but someone that determined is going to break it anyway. Once installed there's no real reason to take it out again until it eventually dies (as all batteries, mortals and love affairs must) so it shouldn't have a lot of wear & tear problems.
2. Other reviewers have said it didn't hold a charge very long, but I've used mine for 3+ hours at a session without recharging and had no problem. Charging it up did take a while, though. I wonder, did they let it fully charge before trying it? Sometimes the quality control of battery manufacturers can be a bit dicey, so it might be one or both of those things. IMO, given the price of this thing, it's worth rolling the dice on it. AA batteries can be comparably expensive unless you buy in bulk or steal them from the office.
3. Charging is easy: just plug the thing in. The Wii only has two USB ports, which is fine for most users. You can plug this thing into any USB port, though, so if you have a PC with a USB port that charges (sometimes they don't charge electronic devices all that well--the vagaries of USB ports are many...) an AC adapter or some other means you could use that and then you wouldn't have to unplug or Rockstar or whatever device. Once charged the LED turns from red to green.
4. The unit does "stick out" from the bottom of the balance board a bit (as do the rechargable packs for Wii remotes) but not so much as to interfere with the board, and it's shaped so that it doesn't get easily snagged on stuff when putting the board away. Just be aware: it's made to look like that.
5. There is an on/off switch on the battery pack, very near the plug where you put the USB cable. I don't use it, personally, as my board is either leaning next to the Wii charging, or in use. However, I have accidentally turned off the battery and had to spend a little while figuring out why my balance board won't turn on. I don't see the point in having an on/off button on the battery itself, as the balance board already has a power button, so this can sometimes be a little annoying because usually one hits the balance board button with a toe without hardly looking. It's possible (I've only done it once) to accidentally hit that switch while plugging in the USB cord after a workout when you're tired and maybe have shaky hands. The next time you go to use your board, it's easy to just hit the power button without looking, the Wii will search, not find the unpowered board and then error out, and you have a little "Huh? What's the matter? Oh, OK, that's what's wrong" moment. It's not a big deal, and not enough to merit losing one of five stars, but were this a 1-10 scale it'd lose 1 for the design that put that on/off switch where it is, how tiny it is, the fact that it doesn't have a colored "on/off" marking on the switch itself... or for being there at all.
6. There's an exterior button that allows you to push the connection button on the Wii balance board. I've never had to use this button as I put in the battery pack after having already connected the board, but it seems like it should work without any difficulty. It's not a sophisticated connection (just a plastic button pushing down on the plastic button of the board itself) but there's no reason that shouldn't work perfectly well.
So, overall, this gets around 9 out of 10.
EDIT 1: OK, I got almost exactly 3 months of use out of this product before it died. It pretty much completely failed; no slowly losing power and lasting for a shorter and shorter amount of time, which makes me wonder if it was the batteries in the unit or some aspect of its connection. In any case, 3 months seems like not much time for a rechargeable device, so I'm going ahead and knocking a whole star off the review due to the lack of longevity. Still, it's more or less competitive with batteries, and I liked the first one, so I'm going to order a second and see if it lasts longer. Another edit to come if that one lasts more or less than 3 months.
EDIT 2: The second unit that I received is different from the first. It's not the one pictured. It was too cheap to bother complaining to the seller about, though, so I'm going to try it out anyway. The differences:
1. Unlike the previous unit, this one is flat and flush with the balance board.
2. The charging cable is not USB to a power input, but USB to mini-USB. That means the mini-USB power input points straight out, perpendicular to the unit itself. However, the mini-USB connection on the power cable that comes with the unit is set at 90 degrees, so it's still possible to plug it in without it sticking out, bending the cord or anything like that; the balance board can still be plugged in and stored "face up" if you will... unless you lose that cable. There are plenty of standard USB to mini-USB cables out there, but finding one that is angled might be a bit of a problem. Personally, I find mini-USB connections to be flimsier than the power input on the previous version, but we'll see if it becomes a problem.
3. Installation remains easy and idiot-proof for all but the most determined idiots.
4. The LED on this unit turns red when charging. Unlike the previous model, when charged it turns off. There's no green for "charged" on it.
5. The instructions are translated from Chinese apparently, and using horrible software. A sample: "The battery pack can be charged alone for using the Wii Console. Then the Balance Board can be serviced when putting the battery pack with full- electricity [sic] into the battery jar of it. If the Balance Board should be pass through the protocol verification with the Wii Console. [sic] it can via the SYLC hole to connect with Wii Console to play games." Fortunately, unless there's some nuance that I'm missing there, using this thing should be pretty explanatory.
6. Unlike the previous unit, there is no on/off switch. I didn't really care for that "feature" in the first place as I thought it was more annoying than helpful, so that's not a complaint.
I've not used it much yet, so I can't speak to battery life. So far it seems perfectly servicable. I'll post a third edit should anything seem amiss.