Performance Design Products, which is simply known as PDP, recently licensed the Energizer brand to slap on its line of Power & Play Charging Systems for the Sony PS3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii. Indeed, the Energizer brand should give these chargers some added visibility in the market place. The model reviewed here, the Power & Play for Wii, lets you juice up two Wii Remotes at a time. It's available for between $35 and $40.
The system consists of a plastic charging base in which one or two Wiimotes stand vertically. The base's rubber feet keep it from sliding around, and it connects to a compact AC adapter that plugs into any wall outlet. Before you can juice up your controllers, though, you'll need to swap in the included custom NiMH battery packs, and the matching battery covers. The covers include a square hole through which the battery-charging leads peek through. They, in turn, line up with the electrical contacts in the base. (Additional battery packs with matching covers are available for $11 each.)
While you'll need to remove the Wiimote's silicone sleeves when charging, the Energizer Power & Play's base has a small space that accommodates the wrist strap while it's docked.
It took us about 4 hours to charge two controllers, but there were a couple of snags. While the controllers sit fairly tightly in their cradles, there's just enough play that you might need to nudge each one back and forth a bit to make sure the charging connectors meet up. The other problem was the indicator lights underneath each charger. The lights are supposed to show red for charging and green when topped off. But the lights seem to give us several false positives--unmounting and remounting a supposedly charged (green) controller back into charging (red) mode, and vice versa. If you left them in for long enough, they'd eventually even up--but that obviates the whole reason for the lights to begin with.
The Energizer Power & Play Charging System isn't particularly fancy or well-built (by that, we mean it has a budget made-in-China feel to it), but it's more than adequate for its mission. Unlike its PS3 counterpart, there are no USB ports, so you can't use it to charge other devices, such as a cell phone.
If the Power & Play Charging System looks familiar, that's because it's very reminiscent of the Nyko Nintendo Wii Charge Station. That unit offers a remarkably similar design, but its battery covers are rubberized, providing a firmer grip (if you aren't using the sleeves). The Nyko version also retails for $5 to $10 less than the Energizer-branded model reviewed here. Alternately, the Penguin 4x Quad Charger is more expensive, but it can charge up to four Wii controllers at once. It's also worth noting that--because the Wiimote takes standard AA batteries--you could just invest in a rechargeable battery setup, from Energizer or one of its competitors.
And that, at the end of the day, is pretty much the score. The Energizer Power & Play Charging System for Wii doesn't really offer anything that other, more affordable Wii controller chargers don't also. It's more expensive and seemingly less reliable than the competition, as well. We'd pass on this one, and go with the Nyko instead.