The remote for the Nintendo Wii is an innovative controller that puts a lot of technology into a small wireless device. Unfortunately, that wireless device eats up batteries like nobody's business. You can pick up a set of rechargeable nickel-metal-hydride batteries and a charger, but it still requires regular battery swaps. Fortunately, Nyko offers another choice in the Charge Station, a $30 accessory kit that offers the promise of never changing the batteries on your Wii remote (or Wiimote) ever again.
The Charge Station Wii consists of two battery packs, two rubberized battery covers, and a charging dock on which to rest up to two Wiimotes. (A similar Charge Station for the Xbox 360 juices up two batteries for that console's controllers.) Each battery pack snaps snugly into a Wiimote battery compartment, which is then covered by one of the included battery covers. The battery covers have a square hole through which the battery packs' electrical contacts can be accessed. When a Wiimote rests on the charging station itself, the battery packs charge through those exposed contacts.
The entire setup works just like a docking charger should. Keep the Wiimote on the base to charge the battery packs and pick it up whenever you want to play. The battery packs last several hours at a time, and the charging station gives you a convenient place to put your Wiimotes when they're not in use. As an added bonus, the rubberized grips on the battery covers help prevent screen-destroying Wii disasters.
Unfortunately, the design isn't perfect. Wiimote wrist straps, a necessity for safe Wii playing, have to hang limply off the sides of the charging station. If you drop your Wiimote into the charging station heedlessly, the wrist strap tends to get bunched up under the Wiimote and prevent the battery packs from making contact with the charger. Besides that, the charging station makes it almost impossible to use silicone Wiimote sleeves, which many players use to further improve their grip. The remote sleeves lack the hole necessary for the battery pack to reach the charger, and the silicone is simply too thick to let the remote rest in the dock. Thankfully, the Charge Station's rubberized battery covers make silicone sleeves far less necessary than the annoyingly slippery battery covers that come with Wiimotes.
The design also fails to take into account marathon game sessions. The battery packs must be inside the Wiimote to charge, meaning once you go through your battery packs, you'll be forced to either break out the AA batteries once again or put your Wiimote back on the charger for a while. Nyko claims that the battery packs can last up to 25 hours. They didn't die when we were playing, though we didn't play for 25 hours at a time. Of course, even if they can last 25 hours, I know some of you want to play 26 straight hours of Wii, and won't be happy when you have to pop in the old AA batteries. And while we're nitpicking, the Charge Station Wii isn't going to win any beauty contests--it won't be as welcome in the living room as the small and stylish Wii console itself.
Those issues notwithstanding, the Nyko Charge Station is still a must-have peripheral for the Wii. It powers two Wiimotes, gives them a nice rubber grip, and even offers a place to keep them so you don't lose them. Not bad for a $30 kit.