Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tech Tip: Batteries

 Date: June 1st, 2011
Author: Nate

Let's talk about batteries. Why?  Because all of the current consoles rely on controllers that use rechargable batteries. This is no surprise; they need a power source if there's no cord.  Ultimately, game systems are money-pits if you want to get the most from them, but there are a few ways to save some cash in the long run.

The first is to not buy the rechargable battery packs. Yeah, I know, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony swear by them. However, what MS, Nintendo and Sony don't tell you is that a bad dashboard update can mess with the charging cycle, which can ultimately screw up the battery.

Further - and this came as a shock to me - my Nickel Metal Hydrate (NiMH) AA rechargables are lasting more than 50% longer than the Lithium Ion (LIon) batteries for my 360 remotes. I call shenanigans on that. Why? LIon is more stable and longer-lasting than NiMH. And yet I've never gotten the same performance. That means the batteries are low-quality, and you pay a heck of a lot for them.

Admittedly, there are different battery qualities, and I use high-quality NiMH batteries. But for 8 batteries and a charger, I paid a little less than the cost of 2 XBox 360 battery packs, so you get twice the bang for the buck.

The batteries that I recommend are The Source brand batteries and charger. Partly because that's what I use, and also because I generally found their batteries to be better overall – at least in high-demand devices. And, their rechargables have so far been the most reliable. Reliability of rechargable batteries has two-fold accountability – the first is the quality of the batteries. The second is the quality of the charger.

If the charger sucks, you're going to get fewer charges and you won't get the same life between charges as you would with a good one. And price does not dictate quality here. Crap batteries, same thing, so these are both very important factors.

Another thing to take into consideration is the rating of the battery, which is MAh, or Milli-Amp hours. The AA batteries I currently use are 2 pairs of 2000 and 2600 MAh rated batteries respectively, and the 2600's do get better life, but only by a day or so. Mind you, I'm usually 2 - 3 weeks between charges for each pair, so it's fairly moot. I maybe get 7 to 10 days with the 360 battery pack. I also play quite a bit, 2 to 4 hours a day, so both accounts reflect a lot of hours, but the time between recharges makes the difference.

Your best bet would be to get a charger that comes with two pairs of batteries. A good one is usually $30 - $40 CDN. Bear in mind that the 360 battery pack is $30 on its own, is good for 7 – 10 days – and there's only one of them.

To add more value to the whole idea, buying more batteries is fairly inexpensive, what with the better pairs coming in at only $20 for two pairs. Again, MS, Sony and Nintendo can't compete with that.
It all comes down to dollars and cents. Or is that sense?

But hey, you're the gamer, it's your call. Regardless of whether or not you get a battery pack or rechargeables, it's still cheaper than buying non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. But the rechargeable batteries are cheaper than a battery pack by over 60%, and the charger isn't attached to the system, which means it can't be affected by screwy updates.

And it goes without saying that you can use the batteries in more than just your controllers.


Dawson (Clawson) said...

I've always used rechargeables since buying the Logitech 2.4 GHz controller for my PS2 and my Wavebird. With my Wii and 360, I just bought more batteries and an extra 2 chargers. All of my remotes work and I have backup batteries already in the charger waiting to be used.

TheMacUser said...

Looking forward to reading some reviews of iPad/iPhone games. Where is the love for us mac users?