It wasn’t until recently that I realized my Xbox 360 S, a handsome 250 GB model that I purchased shortly after last year’s launch, was still horribly under-accessorized. Thankfully the team at Nyko stepped in to help me gussy up my system with a pair of peripherals engineered to complement the new 360′s smaller, sleeker form.
The first and certainly most practical accessory is the Charge Base S battery station. Designed to mimic the system’s distinct curves and glossy finish, it forgoes the wired approach of Microsoft’s own Play & Charge kit in favor of a handsome and functional drop-in design. It uses the same battery style as Nyko’s previous Charge Base, and each of the two included battery packs boasts an interesting angular shape with a defining exposed contact point. With the controller still attached these are lowered onto the respective charging areas of the base unit to which they effortlessly attach.
The controllers simply rest on the Charge Base S soaking up juice until you again get the urge for some more gaming. A three-LED system on the front of the base provides an approximation of cell power as the units recharge, and this bit of visual flash really adds to the device’s charm. The price also hits the sweet spot at around $25 USD, meaning that a Charge Base S with two battery packs costs only a few bucks more than a single controller first-party solution. Admittedly the Nyko cells only provide around 25 hours of playtime as compared to the comparable Microsoft model’s 30, but I’d say that’s more than a fair deal.
The only drawback to the Charge Base S is its reliance on regular old AC power. Unlike the Play & Charge the system does not draw power from the 360′s USB port. This means you’ll need an open wall socket or an additional place on your surge protector in order to accommodate it. This does afford it the ability to charge batteries faster than most USB-based methods, but in a perfect world the Charge Base S would support both options. In an odd twist the base does feature a USB port of its own, so you can conceivably charge your phone or iPod or, if you’re a student of the absurd, yet another 360 controller via something like a Play & Charge while you’re gassing up your Nyko rechargeables.
WIRED: sleek styling, functional design, affordable price
TIRED: relies purely on a traditional power source
My care package from Nyko also included their new Intercooler STS, yet another update on a previous design. Just like the Charge Base S, the Intercooler STS sports a nice black-and-chrome color scheme that complements the 360 S perfectly. Yet, unlike the battery solution, I wasn’t quite sure if I needed a cooling system for my console.
On the one hand the 360 S seems much less prone to heat-related demise than its predecessor, but on the other my system does reside in a closed area within my entertainment center where heat buildup is inevitable. On a lark I opened the product simply to get a feel for its design and I was taken with its effortless installation.
The Intercooler STS slides easily into the exhaust vent on the side of the 360 S, with a little extra security afforded by a rubberized runner that clips to the back alongside its USB power supply. Its finish actually makes it look like an original part of the system’s design, but this isn’t exactly the kind of thing you buy just for show.
Admittedly, the Intercooler S functions as advertised. It moves hot air (not to mention dust) away from the system, and does an excellent job of keeping your 360 S cool. Unfortunately it does so by forcing all that heat through its additional blower, which makes the Intercooler itself heat up very quickly.
I had doubts about how long the Intercooler S could function at such extreme temperatures, but in the weeks since my demo unit arrived it has yet to falter. An internal sensor – branded as TempSmart™ technology – cues the device as to when to turn itself on and off. This means it typically doesn’t spin up until a few minutes into a play session and often continues to cool for several more after the 360 has been powered down. Still, aside from the added noise of running a second system fan, the Intercooler S works like a charm. Hell, even with this added hum it’s whisper quiet compared to the jet engine that was the original 360 fan!
Though its list price is a mere $20 the Intercooler S is far from a necessity, but it’s a nice piece of tech for those looking to dissipate a bit of the heat produced during marathon gaming.
WIRED: eliminates heat buildup within and immediately around the 360 S, easy installation, nicely styled and well designed
TIRED: absorbs a great deal of heat itself, adds additional noise
Review materials provided by: Nyko