News Article

Hardware Review: MaxPlay Wii U In-Car Adapter

Posted by Damien McFerran

Take your gaming on the road

A few eyebrows were raised when we reported on the existence of the MaxPlay adapter, a newfangled contraption which allows you to power your Wii U console from your car's standard 12V cigarette lighter socket.

However, we can now report that this unique item is in fact the real deal, having tried it for ourselves. The MaxPlay allows you to play games on the GamePad from the comfort of the passenger seat — or anywhere else in the car, for that matter.

The MaxPlay not only provides juice to the console, but also comes with a USB charging cable so you can top-up the GamePad at the same time as well. Heck, there's even a standard mini-USB lead so you can replenish your mobile phone's battery if need be.

It's such a simple concept that it's amazing that it has taken this long to appear; after all, the Wii U GamePad is designed with portability in mind, and as long as the game you're playing supports off-TV play, it works a treat. We didn't get chance to ride our car over any massive potholes so we can't comment on how the Wii U's disc drive copes when things get bumpy, but you could always stick with eShop titles stored on the console's internal flash memory if you're worried about road conditions impacting performance.

The only real issue we experienced with the MaxPlay is that the Wii U doesn't fit all that snugly into a typical glove compartment; the one in our roomy European people carrier wasn't really big enough. Even if you do possess a large glove box, it's going to be tricky to ensure that the console doesn't come flying out when you slam on the brakes, because the power cable probably won't allow the glove compartment door to secure fully. It's possible that we'll see some kind of solution for this appearing in the future — perhaps a caddy which resides under your seat and keeps the console in place.

Those of you old enough to have spawned children will probably be eyeing this product with a massive smile on your face — what better solution for long, boring road trips than a Wii U console to keep your little one occupied? As you can see from our short video review below, our willing test subject was suitably impressed with the concept.

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The MaxPlay adapter is available for around $25-$30, and is certainly worth a look if you find yourself travelling a lot with your parents or you're a parent yourself and want to keep your offspring silent for long journeys.

Thanks to Supreme Factory for supplying the unit used in this review.


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User Comments (62)



Lin1876 said:

It's like a better implementation of the PSOne screen, really. A good idea with some issues.

Good point about the pot-holes, too. The roads around where I live could do some serious damage!



TwilightV said:

Were these photos taken near some kind of Internet connection? The Mii icon in the upper left is still blue.



Damo said:

@TwilightV That's because I had pending notifications, I think. It could have been connected to my home WiFi, but I doubt it would reach?



Damo said:

@gingerbeardman Er, that's mentioned in this review, too...

The MaxPlay not only provides juice to the console, but also comes with a USB charging cable so you can top-up the GamePad at the same time as well. Heck, there's even a standard mini-USB lead so you can replenish your mobile phone's battery if need be.



Kifa said:

Interesting, but what worries me is the total power draw of WiiU being quite high for standard 12V car socket. It's near 40W with the console alone, and charging anything via USB is bound to add a few watts to it, which in turn begs the question - will all car alternators be able to power it? Not to mention external hard drives, which will draw another few watts off USB (for thumbdrives/2,5" drives, as powering anything in the 3,5" form factor is rather out of the question)...

Also - yeah, road bumps would kill the optical drive soonner than later, as they would impact some hard drives. I don't know, I'm just sceptical about it...



erv said:

And this is why nintendo has fused the portable and console divisions.

The next nintendo console will probably be one device, sporting on tv play and portable gaming all at once.

When at home, you'll be plugging it into your tv seamlessly, on the road, you'll be playing a portable console.



Savino said:

You and your wheels on the wrong side!
Took me a second to understand what was happening!



TreesenHauser said:

Looks awesome! I'll probably get one as soon as I can. Ya never know, if I gotta go on a car trip and I know it'll be a long, boring ride I'll have my Wii U ready to go!



Zyph said:

I just noticed that the GamePad has some pretty damn nice speakers! Not to mention loud! xD



Savino said:

@Damo you should told me it before I was in your country and almost get hitted by a car coming on the wrong (or right) side of the road!!!!!!!XD



FiveDigitLP said:

This reminds me of when we were kids. My parents bought a small TV from Sam's Club that we could stick in between the front seats in our mini-van and then we'd hook up our N64 (or later Gamecube) to it. It'd make the trips to visiting relatives fly by!
And similar to what @rjejr mentioned, we just used a standard cigarette lighter converter that allowed us to power our TV and console. Quite handy. Still, the nice thing about this device is that it's probably a bit cheaper and you save on some space since it plugs directly into the Wii U.



aaronsullivan said:

@erv About that next system being both a console and a portable. Probably not. First, I'm pretty sure someone at Nintendo said specifically that it DIDN'T mean that. I'm glad, too. They have different needs. There WILL be a great benefit however. The hardware and software platforms will merge, even if the hardware specifications will be different.

In other words, developers will be able to make a game for BOTH with ease. If we had that advantage THIS time, for instance, Luigi's Mansion 2 would have been made for BOTH the 3DS and the Wii U. The portable version will lack some visual fidelity and some features won't match exactly, but the game engine, the program the source assets would all be the same.

Sadly, Nintendo needed this to happen this round. Just think, Star Fox and Ocarina of Time remakes would have been on the Wii U day one... Fire Emblem... Kind of painful to imagine actually.



MadAdam81 said:

Voltage from a car battery isn't constant enough for me to be confident about the potential for damage to the console. Power fluctuations can be quite large in a car when running.



HawkeyeWii said:

I have actually been thinking about doing this for my Rocky Mountains trip this summer!



GamerJunkie said:

This is why we have tablets and phones already.

Who would want to be using the Wii U outside............. very, very few people would get this.



Marioman64 said:

you know, there's a cool thing called a car plug to AC outlet that lets you plug in ANYTHING to a car. why people by these specific cables is beyond me



element187 said:

@GamerJunkie games on the iOS and Android shop are of terrible quality... I tried to switch over to a mobile only gamer and the games really feel empty.



Marioman64 said:

btw, I have already played my wii u on car rides, its awesome. the thing about the wii U is not that its like a giant ds and why would you get an oversized ds. it's the fact that you can hold TONS of processing power in a nearly weightless controller without the need for an external video display. it's the first step toward cloud computer as a gaming method and it's pretty cool



Williaint said:

I just can't see myself ever doing this...
But it's kinda a good idea, as the G-Pad is semi-portable.



Kirbybrawl said:

I have a screen for my wii and that was so awesome playing windwaker or other gc and vc titles on those long trips.



AVahne said:

Tablet and phone battery die incredibly quickly when gaming. Besides, when on a road trip with no interesting scenery around, would you rather play a phone game for 5 minutes and then fall asleep, or play a fleshed out console-level game?
Of course there's 3DS and Vita, but having this as a choice expands your options of games to play on the go.



shinesprite said:

I think I might give this a pass, it's not like I don't already have a car inverter lying around.



adrenochrome said:

what's the must-buy feature of this adapter ?

  • cigarette lighter socket outputs 12v
  • WiiU take 12v in input
    ( WiiU provide 4 usb ports and do the convertion from from 12 to 5v for the usb )
    2 wires between the plugs arn't enough ?


NESguy94 said:

I wish I was a kid again, I got so much more time to game when I didn't have to drive myself anywhere. Nah, just kidding, driving is awesome.

I live in Michigan and because of the extreme temperature flux the roads have horrible potholes everywhere. We officially have the second worst roads in the US (Alaska is #1), so I could see this ending poorly for either the hard drive or disk drive. Great idea though.



FabioSMASH said:

Aside from TV-required games, is a television even needed for all other games and features of the Wii U?



banacheck said:

The Wii U wasn't designed to be portable other than your house, hence the sort range & being a console, otherwise the gamepad would have been fully portable, people own 3DS, PSVitas, Mobiles, and tablets for portable gaming. With Nintendo's 3DS doing so well, i wouldn't be surprised if Nintendo fully becomes a portable gaming company in the near future.



k8sMum said:

there will be screaming when someone forgets to put their Wii U in the boot and their windows get smashed as it is being stolen.



QuickSilver88 said:

Ok let me clarify a few things....Your car can easilt handle 100-150w no problem so those worried about your car battery don't. Even alternators in small cars put out 80amp 12v which is plenty. The other issue about voltage regulation is also wrong. Your cars devices and lighters outlets run from the battery and the alternator charges the battery so iits just like a UPS in your house meaning you get fairly stable amperage. The device likely uses a capicitor circuit to comoensate for any spikes or dips. Go study a little electronics and DC power if U don't beleive me. Those sayinh why not use an AC invertor.....well anytime you shift from ac to dc you bleed or waste power so going dc to ac to dc is senslees plus you will have to take you invertor and your wii power supply. I know lots of U in Europe drive dinky cars but here in the good old USA most people with kids have vans, suvs, cross overs which have more than enough space. Also the RV market here is huge and people often have mid sized LCD screens in their rigs...I know many people that configure them with game consoles. Now about the optical drive....I would avoid using it unless you give the wii-u a proper mountng. We had CD players in cars for decades and they worked fine when mounted properly. Still if U have a 32gb model you can have a fair amount of contrent and 2.5 inch Usb drives to have some rubber around them in the case and also use very low power so that would be the best option. What we really need to put this over the top is a decent video player app for Wii-u that supports mp4,avi,mpg, and mkv and then you could put movies on a big usb stick or sd card and use this as both a game player and portable video last thought is here is a better idea I had and that is gamepad tcp it would talk to the U like your gamepad and direct the signal thru your home router then you would have a palm sized module you take with you that talks to your game pad and connects to wifi which is readily available at so many places for free and essentially your gamepad has true remote play...kind of like vita with ps4.....this would be possible if someone canjust figure out the radio the gamepad uses and the protocol it talks on.



Dogeymon said:

Nintendo are complete gits for not marketing their wii u like this. The best of the world of Nintendo on the long car rides??? Why doesn't Wii U have tv commercials showing this ability of car play and why doesn't nintendo have their own brand car adapter?



amiiboacid said:

@Damo Correct side of the road? The only thing that's correct is that our army was half the side of yours and we still won.



amiiboacid said:

@Damo No. There was a link to this article in a recent one. Also, from what I recall, the automobile was created in America.



amiiboacid said:

@Damo Though it is true Carl Benz of Germany invented one of the first models of an automotive, cars didn't gain widespread popularity until 22 years later with the creation of the Model-T in my home state of Michigan. Though this argument is more about the 'correct' side of the road. With the creation of the Model-T, the birth of the modern highway also happened. As Americans quickly supported cars as the primary form of transportation, Europeans were less quick to adapt and left there roads unfit for automobiles to drive on. They created car-friendly roads significantly later than America. In fact Britain started to create regulations for cars and highways years later in 1949. Even if Germany created the car, it doesn't matter since they drive on the right side. All countries except ones who used to be under country of the power-hungry Britains plus Japan drive on the right side of the road. Looks the right side is right after all.

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