The Wii U Gamepad is good and certainly very useful if one wants to play a game “off TV”. But the darn battery just isn’t very good and that’s rather annoying, especially since the thing seems to be required to stay on, even when streaming video using Netflix or other services.
To deal with this issue I purchased a Nyko Uboost extended battery for the Wii U Gamepad, which has significantly improved the total charge of the Gamepad. It’s not a replacement battery – it fits over the existing battery and provides additional power.
Surprisingly, it’s compatible with the original Gamepad charging dock and is very inexpensive at just under $15.
As a backup for longer gaming sessions I also purchased a Gamepad charging cable. It can’t charge the Uboost itself (the Uboost only charges on the dock connections) but the Uboost doesn’t prevent me from being able to easily access the more traditional charging port on the Gamepad. The charging cable also appears to be compatible with a USB extension cable I already had, which works well for a player position farther away from the Wii U or a power outlet. I chose to purchase the additional charging cable so I wouldn’t have to move the existing cable is connected to the Gamepad charging dock.
The Monoprice battery has worked very well since I purchased it but I wanted to have a battery with a greater capacity (and it doesn’t hurt to have an additional battery as well). I always have my iPhone with me and I often carry a mifi and the 3DS as well. In addition, sometimes I’m traveling with others that have a device that could use a recharge.
Functionality of the device is similar to the Monoprice battery so I won’t bother with describing the minor details. Overall, it’s similar but clearly does provide greater battery capacity. It’s been used several times and I haven’t had a problem with the device itself.
I have noticed an odd issue with my portable Powermat charging mat – when the battery is fully charged (or nearly fully charged) the mat will turn the charging on and off repeatedly, which can be very annoying if the charging sound on the mat is enabled and it happens in the middle of the night. However, this isn’t an issue with the battery and I’ve experienced a few oddities with the portable charging mat and other devices.
Updated 05/22/2013: I’ve been using this battery for a while and so far it has worked great. I’ve had the opportunity to use it on several trips and I’m actually using this battery more than I am the Monoprice battery.
Updated 07/06/2014: This battery still works great and is extremely useful when traveling.
The kit is great and so far seems to work without any issues. Placement of the iPhone is a little different. The other charging kit is practically form-fitted so the case fits in easily. On the larger charging mat it takes slightly more work to place the iPhone properly but it doesn’t take long to get used to figuring out the proper alignment to charge.
It does suffer from the same issues the other Powermat has – annoyingly bright LEDs (to indicate charging) and the sounds that it makes when the mat begins to charge a device. Those issues aside it’s excellent. I like the convenience of not having to plug and unplug every time I want to charge – this should help prolong the life of the connectors for when I do need to charge with a cable.
I didn’t find any Black Friday deals that interested me. We just don’t care to fight the crowds for mediocre sales (or cheap equipment being sold at what I consider to be the most appropriate price). In the end, we didn’t hit up any stores until after 6 pm that Friday.
While going through Wal-Mart I did find one item that I ended up purchasing, though it was in the regular clearance isle. At a reduced price was an (unopened) iPhone 4 PowerMat Wireless Charging System. I’ve been considering the PowerMat system for a while but the prices usually put me off. I wasn’t going to assume it was a deal just because it was marked as a clearance item so I whipped out the iPhone and checked the current price on Amazon. The Amazon price was about $8 higher. The Wal-Mart price was $30, which seemed reasonable so I bought it.
This time I chose a solution that I thought would be more elegant in its utility.
Late last week I purchased a Monoprice 5000mAh External Battery Pack. It includes two USB charging ports (one for 1 Amp devices and another for those that need 2.1 Amp) for output and can be recharged via a micro-USB port. The cost was reasonable at just under $30.
Now, I haven’t had any problems with the inexpensive cables I’ve purchased from Monoprice. However, the devices are often hit-and-miss. So far, this one seems to be a winner but having owned this item for less than a week isn’t enough time to really know yet.
The elegance of this package is that I can use it with almost any small device that can be charged via USB. Combined with a few UPS backups, a CPAP battery, and a solar battery at home I now have one more emergency power source in the event that I ever need it.
It also fits easily into my laptop bag. It’s not tiny. It’s larger than the iPhone but it does fit into a pocket well enough that one can connect the charging cable from the iPhone to the battery back and carry it around.
I’ve used it several times this week to keep my phone charged at times when I was using the phone more frequently than usual.
Updated 11/17/2012: This continues to be a good solution for charging my iPhone without having to use a wall charger or when one isn’t available. I’ve used it several times to charge other devices including a couple of different Android devices, my wife’s Sharp FX, and a mifi device.
The Short Version: It’s worth exactly what you pay for it. If you really need a reliable, high-capacity battery case that’s worth the inconvenience of carrying a brick then I don’t recommend this case. Mine has sat unused on a shelf for months. I may just charge it up once a month for emergency use at home. It does a good job of maintaining a charge when unused for a long period of time but unfortunately I started having a problem with the case randomly stop charging and then restart, even when it was sitting on a flat surface. I suspect the dock connector is failing, which is similar to problems others have mentioned in product reviews for this device.
My iPhone 4 battery still works well but I have noticed that it doesn’t last quite as long as it used to, especially if I’m using it for power-hungry tasks such as playing a game or browsing the Web. I think I’ve treated the battery well by making it a habit to not leave it on the charger all night and instead only plug it in until it reaches 100%.
This week I started browsing iPhone battery cases. I perused the reviews for several, but I couldn’t make up my mind. The battery performance drop wasn’t enough to justify spending $60-$80.