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Charge Block Solo
Score: 80%
Developer: Nyko
Device Type: Power


Function:

Wireless controllers. They're great for keeping controllers and consoles from getting knocked down when someone walks between you and your game. Any time you reduce the chance of tripping and falling is a good thing. However, when that controller's battery runs out, you're now holding a stylish plastic brick. Long story made short: Keep your controllers charged.

That's great, except that most people set up their consoles so that they're next to their televisions, across the room from where they want to sit when they play.

Nyko's Charge Block Solo is a charger for your controller than you can set up right next to your couch, so your controller is waiting for you where you will be when you want it, not sitting awkwardly tethered to your console on a three foot cord.

Further, it's designed to work with Charge Block Solo chargers for other consoles, combining into a single bay of controller charging.


Performance:

Keeping your controller charged? Check. The Charge Block Solo will do just that, allowing you to leave your controller close within reach on a stylish charger, to be topped off and waiting to be used. It can be plugged into a standard wall outlet, using the included USB adapter, or it can be plugged into a USB port.

Connecting multiple units into a single (even multi-platform) charger? Check. If you like, you can connect the Xbox One version to this one and have different controllers on the same charger. Or, you can connect multiple PS4 units to charge more controllers for your PS4. (Note that each Charge Block Solo works for a single controller type and is sold separately.) If you power it with a USB 3.0 connector, you can link up to four Charge Block units together. If using the AC adapter, only two can be connected together. (This is from the instructions booklet; we only have two in-house to test with, so we couldn't test the performance for over two connected together.)

Another aspect of the Charge Block Solo that's pretty nice is how it connect to the charging cradle. There is an adapter that you plug into the USB port on the controller and it reroutes the contacts to the back of the controller. These contacts allow you to simply set the controller down on the Charge Block Solo and it easily rests into place and allows it to start charging. This makes it truly easy to put the controllers on the charger properly, whereas some other chargers on the market are more difficult to use.


Features:
  • Can be Connected to other Charge Block Solo Units - Even For Different Platforms
  • Easy to Use Charging Cradle
  • LED Light Bars that Indicate Charging Status
  • Can Be Powered With USB or AC/USB Adapter (Included)
  • Low-Profile Design

Drawbacks & Problems::

The first thing that I found disappointing about the Charge Block Solo is that you're limited to connecting just two units if you're using the included AC adapter. The controllers can be charged using a cable and the console, without the need for a separate charger. The charger becomes useful in that it allows you to charge your controller away from the console and with the console turned off. I would expect that most people's usage would be with the AC adapter, which limits you to two units chained together. If you have a computer nearby, you could make use of a USB 3.0 port to chain up to four Charge Block Solo units, but not all USB ports are USB 3.0; you'd have to make sure you were using the correct one and, even then, there are additional warnings not to charge a completely dead controller until the other three have reached at least 10%. This would be difficult to gauge, since neither the controllers nor the Charge Block Solo have anything that indicates the power level on the controllers. You would have to have your console turned on and power on the controllers to check. I would suggest only considering the possibility of connecting two units together, but that seems quite limiting. On the upside, if you have an end table on either side of your couch, you could use two units connected to each other on one side and another two on the other, each pair plugged into an AC adapter.

The second complaint I have is an inexcusable flaw, in my opinion. This is a product for using with your PS4. The PS4 is capable of beautiful graphics and televisions often have issue with glare if there are bright lights in the room. The Charge Block Solo has tall, bright white LED lights that flash frenetically while a controller is charging and stay on once the controller is fully charged. You'll have to be careful where you place them, or the rapid flashing could cause glare on your screen and can be quite annoying. The brightness is over-the-top and unnecessary, but the rapid flash rate is simply bewildering. They should have taken a cue from the PS4 controller; when it's charging, the large LED panel slowly goes from black to a medium brightness yellow and then fades back to black in an animated lighting effect that is usually referred to as a "breathing" effect or a slow pulse. The Charge Block Solo flashes about 10 times in the time it takes the PS4 controller to complete a single "breathing" cycle. Actually, since this version of the Charge Block Solo is specifically designed for use with PS4 controllers, which already have this lighting effect to indicate that they are charging or are fully charged, the LED lights could have been done away with altogether. In an attempt to "solve" the issue on my test unit, I took a black Sharpie and darkened the LED bars. The result was that they were merely slightly dimmer. I may try masking off around them and painting them black, which I expect would still leave a slim bit of light coming from around the edges of the LED bars, which would be enough indication since, as I mentioned, with the PS4 controller this lighting effect is redundant; I could tell the charging status by looking at the LED bar on the controller.

I love the ideas behind the Charge Block Solo, but I wish it had been implemented a bit better, at least with regards to the bright, frenetic LED bar. If there had just been a button to turn that off, it would have been better. As it is, keep this in mind when contemplating your charging options, especially if your gaming center is more on the "media room" side.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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