February 14, 2007 - The floodgates for Wii accessories have finally opened and the options for third party Wii Gear are expanding quickly. Wireless sensor bars have been on many people's lists of needed accessories. The first available was a homebrew design from wirelesssensorbar.com (review) that worked pretty well but didn't blend in to high-tech décor. Last week we got our hands on Nyko's Wireless Sensor Bar (review), which we liked both for it's superior range (compared to the Nintendo sensor bar) and nicely styled exterior. Today we've got yet another wireless sensor bar option, this time from Nextronics.
The Nextronics model bridges a gap between the garage factory style of the wirelesssensorbar.com option and Nyko's professionally designed model. Though it couldn't be mistaken for a product from a major manufacturer, Nextronics distinguishes its offering from its two competitors by offering both battery and AC-wall power options.
The Nextronics sensor bar itself is somewhat shorter than the official Nintendo sensor bar and significantly smaller than the Nyko sensor bar due to the fact that it stores its 3 AA-battery power supply in an external pack roughly the size of a credit card and about three-quarters of an inch thick. Double sided sticky tape placed on the bottom of the sensor bar allows for secure mounting, but it doesn't nest well in the Nintendo supplied sensor bar mounting bracket.
The wall power option is what most distinguishes the Nextronics wireless sensor bar from its competition. Though it obviously requires running a wire somewhere, the wall power option solves the problem of needing to remember to turn off a battery powered sensor bar after every play. If used with the battery pack the unit has neither warning reminders like the Nyko sensor bar nor indicator light to remind that it is on.
Expanded range is also one of the things we hope for in third party sensor bars and we figured the Nextronic's model might feature greater range thanks to the ample current wall power provides. After testing we discovered that the Nextronics sensor bar is, in fact, the most powerful we've yet tested, yet not because of wall power. We were surprised to discover that when running on battery power, the Nextronics was able to give us a completely stable cursor even at 30-feet, and even when we turned the Wiimote upside-down. That's something neither the Nyko, nor Nintendo, nor homebrew sensor bars are capable of. Strangely, when running on wall power, the Nextronics' range was reduced to around 20-feet, almost exactly the range we are able to maintain via the standard Nintendo sensor bar.
There are some downsides to the Nextronics sensor bar. The wires on the battery pack are only 6-inches long. Coupled with the six inches of wire fixed to the sensor bar itself, the rather short total wire length makes it difficult to mount the Nextronics bar above a display (especially if its an LCD or plasma) since there's nowhere to place the battery pack. The wire on the included AC adapter is a bit more than six feet long, which might be enough to reach the TV's power outlet.
We're also bummed that the Nextronics sensor bar only seems to be more powerful than others when running on batteries. If it featured similar performance with wall power it could be a solid turn-on-and-forget solution for users that need an extra long throw. With range on wall power only 20-feet, the Nextronics model is basically equivalent to the other options. Total price with shipping to the USA is $25.99 (available here), which puts the Nextronics roughly in line with the Nyko model.