Gear Review: Pixel Pals USB Adapter

So you’ve amassed a collection of Pixel Pals and proceeded to blow through a bunch of AAA batteries to light the little guys up. I’m right there with you–I recently bought a 16-pack of rechargeable AAAs for the sole purpose of keeping Pixel Pals aglow. But surely there has to be a better way, right? There wasn’t initially, but now there is!

PDP has launched standalone USB adapter packs that can be used to connect Pixel Pals to a standard USB power source, no batteries necessary. Simply remove the existing battery cover that came with your Pixel Pal, remove any installed batteries, and pop the adapter into the empty compartment. The interior side of the adapter has two cylindrical connection points that fit securely into the battery slots, while the outer cover matches the design of the existing battery door, just without the character-specific labeling unique to each figure.

It’s very important to point out that the adapter is not a rechargeable battery pack; it does not hold a charge without being directly connected to a power source. The adapter’s battery door features a Micro USB pass thru port for the included cable to connect to a standard USB power supply, which it must remain connected to in order to be illuminated.

Being tethered to a cable does limit some of the freedom to display your Pixel Pals wherever you want, due to the pull of the wire hanging from the back and the fact that they need to be near a computer or some form of outlet or surge protector device with USB connectivity. Fortunately the cable included with each adapter is over six feet long, providing enough of a leash to place the connected Pixel Pal a reasonable distance away from its power source. For example, I have Kratos and Ratchet figures above my TV, connected to the Accell Powramid Air surge protector and USB charging station my TV and game consoles are hooked up to.

I’ve also got the Skyrim Dragonborn Pixel Pal wired up to a bookshelf corner, with plenty of slack to reach the nearest USB outlet around three to four feet below.

The nice thing about the continuous USB power supply is being able to maintain maximum brightness around the clock. At full capacity, Pixel Pals put out a lot of light–one or two in a completely dark room is enough to create clear ambient visibility. However, I’ve noticed that the brightness tends to begin dimming from its highest luminescence after operating on batteries for only an hour or two at once. Over the holidays, I actually put Pixel Pals in my windows as a geeky decoration alternative to electric candles. On a full charge, the lighting would fade from its brightest level within a couple of hours over a single night’s use. I could still turn them on for maybe another two nights at a diminished brightness, which was still perfectly visible, but in general I was needing to recharge the batteries every few days.

The wired USB adapter is ideal for this type of long-term functionality, for using Pixel Pals in the capacity of actual decorative light sources, such as a lamp or nightlight, beyond the primary purposes of novelty display and collectability. Pricing may be a bit of a sticking point for some users, as each adapter sells for $7.99. The price is by no means egregious, but it’s costly enough that you may be less likely to get more than two or three of them. I don’t know if it would be financially feasible from PDP’s perspective, but had the price been more like $4.99 I think it would have been more enticing as an impulse add-on to buy with every new Pixel Pal that gets added to your collection. With each Pixel Pal already costing $15, those extra few bucks are enough to make you stop and reconsider. An even $20 for a Pixel Pal with an adapter just feels like an ideal sweet spot.

Additionally, since the 8-bit characters have a different battery door configuration, there are two different adapter models to choose from. So sadly one size does not fit all. Probably due to the holiday timing, the adapters seem to be available in extremely limited supply at the moment. Both models are currently out of stock directly from PDP’s online shop, while Amazon is sold out of the 8-bit adapter and only has around a dozen of the standard model. So you’ll have to search around and stock up as the adapters become more readily available.

While the lack of total wireless freedom compared to using batteries brings with it a different form of limitation, the USB adapter offers a handy power source alternative to mix and match amongst your collection for different needs, having a few to equip with those special Pixel Pals that you want to keep lit up all the time, while using batteries for any other figures that primarily sit on a table or shelf and really only get turned on in certain situations. Perhaps PDP’s next innovation will be a full-on rechargeable battery pack with dual USB pass thru? I’d certainly love to see that happen, even knowing that the price would need to be higher.

Buy From: Amazon or PDP for $7.99.

Disclosure: Pixel Pals USB Adapters were provided to VGBlogger.com for review purposes by PDP.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!