Hardware Review: Nyko UBoost accessory for Wii U

The Wii U has been under fire on a number of issues.  Not enough games, not enough third-party support, not enough memory, and the list goes on and one.  It isn't an unfamiliar position for Nintendo and criticism of this sort tends to roll off of its back like water does a duck's.  However, that doesn't mean someone won't set up to the plate to address an issue if they can.  Enter Nyko and the UBoost batter extender.

Shortly after the Wii U was released reports began appearing that indicate the battery life of a fully charged Gamepad lasted about 2.5 to 3 hours.  For many anxious to experience Mario in beautiful HD for the first time, that simply wasn't long enough and the idea of being tethered to the charging cable was distasteful.  The Nyko UBoost claims to double the amount of gameplay one could get.  But does it live up to the claim and at what cost in added weight.  We broke out our stopwatch and ran the UBoost through the paces to see how it performed.

First we established a baseline of battery life.  Starting with a fully charged Gamepad we set out playing Zen Pinball 2.  At 3 hours mark the red led on the Gamepad finally lit and 15 minutes later started to blink.  Finally at 3 hours 30 minutes the Gamepad screen went blank as the battery drew its last breath.  So this is our baseline.  Could we expect to get double that amount of time with the UBoost connected?

First a little bit about the product.  The UBoost is fairly light weight, adding an additional 6 ounces to the 17.6 ounce Gamepad.  The added weight isn't massive, but it is noticeable.  The UBoost takes about 3 seconds to install, simply fitting onto the Gamepad and securing itself in place with a thumb screw.  I audibly said, "Well, that was easy." when I put it on.  Once mounted onto the Gamepad you can place it directly onto the charging cradle and both the Gamepad and UBoost lights will glow red indicating a charging state.  When the batteries have reached their full charge the UBoost light turns to a very bright green.

Nyko has included a few additional features on the UBoost.  Because the extender fits onto the back, the sync button is covered.  Nyko realized that and designed in an external sync button so the Gamepad can be synced without requiring the UBoost to be removed.  Nyko also built in a retractable and adjustable kickstand so the Gamepad can be securely supported for off screen play or during charging sessions.  Now, on to the real reason the UBoost exists, extending the battery life of the Gamepad.

With the green light indicating a full charge I again set out to try and overtake a friend's high score on the V12 table and enjoy all the other features the Wii U has to offer.  It took 7 hours and 20 minutes to drain the battery to the point the Gamepad turned itself off.  That provided me with a 108.6% increase, or 2.086 times the battery life.  So I can say that the Nyko UBoost lives up to its claim of providing up to twice the battery life.

There were very little instructions provided in the packaging on how to use the UBoost.  The installation is almost self explanatory, but there is a button and a light that nothing is really said about.  Do I turn the UBoost on whenever I turn on the Gamepad or do I wait until the Gamepad light comes on and then activate the UBoost to provide a charge?  There is no direction either way, and perhaps it doesn't matter as I ended up having about the same results with each method.

In conclusion - If you find yourself getting the red low battery light more often that you want, the UBoost is a great investment.  The product has a retail price of $24.99 and is offered in both Black and White so it will match the color of your Gamepad, but the operational aspect of the device is identical either way.  + Scott Everly

7/10 - An accessory that for most will fall into the luxury category as opposed to a necessity.  However, for long term gameplay, it lives up to its claim of doubling the time you can play without worrying about where the nearest power source is.

Review product provided by Nyko

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