You want to get more out of the stuff you already have, these days. For video gamers, accessories are the quickest way to make that console feel out-of-the-box new. A controller that fits the hands better will make you play better, and that will breathe fresh life even into old games. So, don't sneer at accessories.
The main rule of buying a video game add-on: Do it only if you can't imagine gaming without it. We found three such gamechangers, plus a bonus aimed at you guitar heroes.
• PlayStation 3 Wireless QWERTY keypad is the best of the bunch, even with its forgivable faults. If you use your PlayStation 3's Web browser a lot, you'll appreciate this fine addition. It snaps onto the top of your PS3 controller, providing a scroll wheel and a handy keypad for zipping up to the address bar and typing in the URL you want to visit.
If you've ever used the PS3 and its controller to surf the Web (something you can't do on the Xbox 360), you know it can be a hit-and-miss-affair. Moving the cursor with your thumb and tap-tap-tapping search phrases and Web addresses one character at a time is just trifling. The QWERTY keypad lets you fly around like a seasoned texter, letting you type/talk trash to your online competitors without putting down your controller and reaching for a full-size keyboard. If only the scroll rate were a little more controllable (at first, my cursor whizzed maniacally across my TV screen until I became a practiced user) and the ke ypads spaced a little farther apart (again, practice helped eliminate typing mistakes), it would be a total winner.
As it is, the clip-on keypad makes the PS3 feel whole. $45; amazon.com
• Nyko quad charge station for the Wii - It hurts to have your wireless remote run out of juice in the middle of a game. The Nyko Charge Station Quad comes with four rechargeable batteries to keep up to four remotes ready to go at a moment's notice.
Each charge provides up to 25 hours of play time, in case you forget to slip the remote back into its charging cradle. $50; nyko.com
• Xbox 360 hard drive - If you bought a $200 Xbox 360, you might notice that it doesn't have enough room to store the Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned chapter downloadable to the 360 from Xbox Live. A 60-gigabyte hard drive can fix that right up.
Now you have plenty of room to download games, videos, even store your CDs to listen to while you play. $100; bestbuy.com
• Logitech Wireless Guitar Controller Premiere Edition" Just for guitar heroes, the Premiere is made partly of wood and has the heft of a real guitar. If you're playing every song on expert level, honor your skills with a guitar controller worthy of your talents. $250; logitech.com
(c) 2009, Chicago Tribune.
Visit the Chicago Tribune on the Internet at www.chicagotribune.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Explore further: Five features an Amazon phone might offer (Update)