February 13, 2007 - As most Wii owners know, Nintendo's Wiimotes bomb though batteries like it's their job. Since the Wii launch, Bozon and Casamassina have run through so many AAs that we have to order more by the case practically every month. It's also possible people are pilfering them to take home. Regardless, the mass consumption of batteries caused by the Wiimote's hunger is both expensive and probably the root cause of global warming.

Rechargeable is the green way to roll, and Nyko wants to help you help the world. The peripheral maker is the first to market with a rechargeable solution just for the Wii, the aptly titled Charge Station. The kit consists of two rechargeable NiMH battery packs, silicon enhanced battery covers, and a wall powered charging cradle. The battery packs install simply and are secured by replacement covers with contact points for recharging the batteries. The covers sport a thin layer of ribbed silicon which feels good in hand and adds some grip to the slippery Wiimote.

The cradle is styled in smooth white plastic that matches the Wiimotes pretty well. LED indicator lights below each seat indicate the status: blue for charging and green for charged. Nyko states that a single empty battery will recharge in 1.5 to 2 hours, while two empty Wiimotes will require 3.5 to 4 hours. Our review units arrived close to fully charged and we had green lights across the board after about 30-minutes of charging. In our experience using the battery packs thus far we've had no problems. Nyko doesn't provide info on how long the battery packs will keep a Wiimote running from a full to empty charge, but we'd suspect close to as long as a set of regular AAs. The issue isn't exactly critical as in most cases users will return the Wiimotes to the cradle after each use, ensuring they will be topped up between sessions.

The only downside to the Charge Station is the fact that the Wiimote straps must dangle to either side of the cradle, marring what would otherwise be a rather statuesque display of Wiimotes in recline. Tucking the straps behind the Wiimote vertically blocks the contact points for recharging, so there is no other option than allowing the straps to stick out the sides. A little groove on either side of the charging cradle seats helps keep the strap out of the way when a Wiimote is dropped in. Ensuring a proper connection for recharging takes a slightly firm push to seat the Wiimote in the cradle completely. It would have been really cool to be able to just drop them in, but we can understand how this could be difficult to engineer.

Nyko's Charge Station for the Wii is the first rechargeable solution for the battery hungry Wiimotes, and now that we have some we're glad we won't have to burn through quite as many AAs. Though it might take a little while to recoup the $29.99 MSRP of the Charge Station via savings in batteries, the convenience of being able to count on fully charged Wiimotes is considerable, and limiting the number of used batteries you send to the landfill gives you good environmental karma. The Charge Station should be available at retail by the end of Q1.

Thanks to http://gear.ign.com/articles/764/764273p1.html for sharing the news with us!