Just because you want the best accessories for your Xbox One, doesn't mean you need to settle for a high price tag. With a growing number of third-party manufacturers of Xbox controllers, headsets, and other accompaniments, if you know where to look, you can fully kit out your console on a budget.
Amazon is one of the big names now jumping into the Xbox One accessories space, with a range of branded hardware officially licensed by Microsoft. Falling under its "AmazonBasics" line, these promise a low-cost solution, without comprising functionality or build quality. I took a look at its latest line of Xbox One charging accessories, to see whether these cheap alternatives deserve a spot in your gaming setup.
Plug and play
At the entry-level of the AmazonBasics Xbox One line is the "Play & Charge kit," offering a rechargeable solution for your controller. As the name suggests, this bundle helps ditch disposable batteries, while keeping your controller topped off without interrupting your gaming. Microsoft already offers an official Play & Charge kit retailing at $24.99, yet Amazon's own solution promises a similar feature set for about $15.
Installing the AmazonBasics Play & Charge kit is relatively simple – a standalone pack sits in the battery tray, sealed with a special-made battery door. Protruding through this battery door is a secondary Micro-USB port for wired charging and contacts for use with Amazon's wireless charging stand.
Using the included USB Type A to Micro-USB cable, the battery pack can be charged directly off your console's onboard USB port. However, unlike Microsoft's solution where power is delivered via the controller's integrated charging port, Amazon's low-budget pack charges directly with a port on the pack itself. This forces your controller to connect wirelessly, leading to battery drain that could be otherwise avoided if Amazon had utilized a traditional wired connection. It might be frustrating, but at least it means the battery pack can be charged outside of the controller.
The unit presents some welcome improvements on Microsoft's offering, too, such as an LED indicator on the battery that shifts between red and green states to show current charge. Amazon's included Micro-USB cable also comes in around three meters, providing an additional 30 centimeters of length to work with.
Amazon's Play & Charge kits utilize 1100mAh nickel–metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, designed specifically for Xbox One controllers. This is in contrast to the 1400mAh lithium battery in Microsoft's kit, meaning inferior capacity and battery technology. Although battery life and recharge times haven't hugely differed from the Microsoft-branded alternative in personal testing, I have concerns in the long-term. Differences in battery technology may lead to reduced durability for Amazon, with some users already reporting sharp capacity drops after extended use.
This kit isn't exactly pretty, either, with the battery requiring its own branded door for projecting ports and connectors. This creates a needless lump on the rear that offsets the controller's streamlined design, which can be felt by those with bigger hands. And that's not touching on the cheap-feeling plastic colored in a different tone to the official Microsoft black controller.
While the AmazonBasics Play & Charge kit may be cheap, there are clear tradeoffs. Between build quality, battery quality and general ease of use, you'll be seeing shortcuts, but it's a budget solution that gets the job done.
Cutting out the wires
If you're willing to spend a little more, Amazon also sells a charging station for Xbox One controllers under its AmazonBasics range. This promises a much simpler solution without wires, that lets you drop a controller on the charging cradle between gaming sessions.
The AmazonBasics wireless charging station requires controllers to use similar batteries and battery doors as seen in the Play & Charge kit. To use the stand, you'll need to push a controller into the cradle, exposing three metal pins. When these pins lay against the metal contacts on the battery door, the controller will begin charging. LEDs can also be found underneath the two charging pads, shifting from red to green when charging is complete.
In terms of its design, the wireless charging stand may not be anything inspiring – a black stand with AmazonBasics branding on either side. Composed of a plastic hollow casing around its internals, it's a no-frills solution but it works as expected. The four rubberized feet are a neat touch, keeping it grounded on glossy surfaces.
Unfortunately, the wireless charging station from Amazon shares shortcomings with the Play & Charge kit. Amazon is distributing the same 1100mAh NiMH batteries with this stand, meaning you'll see smaller capacity and possible battery degradation. The same battery door designs are also used, minus the heavy branding.
Wrapping things up
Amazon's Xbox One charging products might not sport the premium feel of official Microsoft accessories, but thanks to the low price tag they could be a great buy for the budget-conscious gamer. The AmazonBasics Dual Charging Station is available exclusively from Amazon at $24.99. While usually priced at $14.99 via Amazon, the Play & Charge Kit is unfortunately out of stock at the time of this publication.
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