When the Xbox 360 first shipped in November 2005, it was accompanied by a wide variety of add-ons and peripherals, including various controllers, remotes, faceplates, and so on (see part 9 of my Xbox 360 review for more information). Because Microsoft opted to use wireless controllers with the Xbox 360, it shouldn't come as a surprise that a few of the launch accessories were related to battery charging. The Xbox 360 Play & Charge Kit (Figure) provides a USB-based charging cable which lets you keep your controller charged when not in use (or during use if you're into cables). Also, the Xbox 360 Rechargeable Battery Pack provides an additional rechargeable controller battery, if you should need such a thing.

We've been using the Play & Charge Kit ever since the Xbox 360 arrived, and it's worked pretty well. We play wirelessly, of course, and when it's time to shut down the console, we plug it into the cable and turn off the console: The console maintains a small charge until the controller is charged, and then it turns off completely. It's a pretty decent set up.

This week, Microsoft finally released the charging peripheral we've really been waiting for, however. The Quick Recharge Kit (Figure) includes a handy dock for simultaneously charging two rechargeable Xbox 360 controller batteries, a standard two prong AC cord, and, in a nice touch, an additional rechargeable battery. That last bit will prove handy if you need to charge a battery you want to keep playing.

Compared to the Play & Charge Kit, the Quick Recharge Kit is a bit of a trade-off. On the plus side, using the Quick Recharge Kit frees a USB port on the console, and it provides a way to charge two batteries simultaneously. On the other hand, the Play & Charge Kit lets you play while you charge, which can be quite handy. We haven't really run into too many circumstances where a controller battery has run out of juice during game play, but it has happened. Either of these solutions will help keep you in the game.

The Quick Recharge Kit for Xbox 360 is $29.99, which is a great price considering the extra battery you get. Highly recommended.

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