Xbox 360 Play and Charge Kit Review

X360 Play Charge Kit
X360 Play and Charge Kit. Microsoft

If you have an Xbox 360 wireless controller it pretty much requires some sort of rechargeable battery solution.  Here's our review of the Xbox 360 Play and Charge Kit, which is just one option.

What It Is

The Xbox 360 wireless controller is a hungry little critter. It eats AA batteries like nothing else I have ever seen. I understand that there is quite a bit more going on than with other wireless controllers, but having to change the batteries every three weeks or so is pretty ridiculous. My Nintendo Wavebird has been going strong for about 18 months and my Logitech ​PS2 and Xbox controllers lasted about a year before they needed new batteries and I used them a ton. So, after three battery changes since I got the Xbox 360 in mid-November, it became apparent that Microsoft’s rechargeable battery pack was the way to go in order to save money in the long term.

For a mere $20 you can get you hands on a play and charge kit that should last you a good couple of years before the battery finally can’t take another charge and you end up buying a new one. Buying $20 worth or regular AA batteries will only last you about six months, so it is clearly a pretty good deal to get the play and charge kit.

How It Works

You get a rechargeable battery pack and a USB recharge cable in the kit and when you first get it you have to charge it for a good 5-6 hours. At first, it will lose its charge fairly quickly, but the more you use it and the more you charge it you will eventually get up to the 20-25 hours of use per charge range that is advertised on the box. That is par for the course for rechargeable batteries.

The way it recharges is by plugging the USB cable into either your Xbox 360 or into your PC’s USB port. Your 360 has to be on to charge the battery (and with all of the reports of overheating and what not I would rather not just leave it on for hours at a time if I’m not using it …) so I’m much more fond of using my PC to recharge. I spend several hours a day on my PC working so just plugging my controller in while I work when I know it is getting low is a good way to make sure it is ready for me when I need it, methinks. If you recharge with your 360, you can play and charge at the same time (hence the name). It draws more power than it uses so you’ll still be recharging while you are using it. It’ll just take longer.

Bottom Line

Basically, if you plan on using your 360 a lot the play and charge kit is a must have accessory. The wireless controller eats batteries and in the long run you are much better off with a rechargeable battery set up. It is easy to use and charges fairly quickly and you can use your PC rather than your Xbox 360 to recharge which is a great feature in my book. The play and charge kit (which includes the USB cable and battery pack) is $20 and extra battery packs are about $12. It is pretty cheap and does its job well so the play and charge kit is highly recommended.

Update: An even better option, and the one I recommend now, is the Xbox 360 Quick Charge Kit. The Quick Charge Kit plugs into a standard wall outlet (instead of USB) and can charge two battery packs at once. You might also consider normal "AA" rechargeable batteries.  We recommend Eneloop.