Updated: May 23, 2015

XBox 360 Wireless Controllers

Most households have a gaming console of some kind - Nintendo, Sony Playstation, or Xbox. But throw a few kids into a room crowded with furniture and electronics and cords, and before you know it someone trips over the controller cords, disconnecting the game, falling down, etc. Wireless controllers were invented to solve this problem, and have been around for quite a few years. How do wireless game controllers work? Instead of plugging the controller itself into the jack on the game machine, you plug a small radio receiver into the port which then picks up the signal from the radio trasmitter found inside the wireless controller. So whatever you move or push on the controller gets sent to the receiver plug and is then processed inside the machine like a normal controll signal. In this guide we will take a look at how the XBox 360 wireless controllers work, troubleshooting and FAQs, as well as info on the rechargeable battery kits that are available.


Buying a Replacement Xbox 360 Wireless Controller

A standard XBox 360 kit only comes with a single Xbox controller (white standard, others available in red, pink, black, blue). If you want 2 or more, you gotta buy them at extra cost. Wireless support is built into the Xbox, so you can buy wireless controllers and not worry about having to plug in anything else. The wired Xbox 360 controllers cost about $30, while the wireless Xbox 360 controllers cost about $40-$45. We recommend spending the extra $10 and going with the wireless remotes -- yeah, there is some hassle with charging the batteries and replacing dead ones, but that is more than made up for in the flexibility of sitting where you want, moving around, and not tripping over cords. You can check-out a list of best-selling Xbox 360 Controllers here -- You'll also find some additional Xbox accessories there like the Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote Control ($18), the text messaging kit ($23), the steering wheel kit ($99), and the Rock Band Drum Sets.

Tips for Xbox 360 Wireless Controller - Getting them to work

The wireless controllers for XBox operate on a 2.4Ghz radio frequency, and can operate up to 30 feet away from the console. They work pretty good around obstacles as well, unlike the infrared controls often used in remotes. So even if your game machine is off to the side, the wireless controller will still work fine without having to point it at the machine. When you buy a wireless controller for XBox 360, it comes with instructions on how to hook it up. If you've lost the instructions though, it's a pretty simple process. The first step is batteries for the Xbox controller. It takes two AA batteries. You remove the battery pack on the back of the controller by pushing the little button on top and then pulling the cover open. The batteries themselves tend to stick once you put them in, and you will probably have to bang the thing on the palm of your hand to get the depleted batteries out. Both the XBox 360 faceplate and the wireless controllers have the Ring of Lightfeature - a 4 quadrant light-up ring that indicates which controllers are recognized, and which controller is which. For example, on the game box itself, you may see the 2 upper quadrants lit up, meaning two controllers are either wired in or recognized wirelessly.

On the controllers, one would have the upper left light lit up (around the big silver XBox button) while the other would have the upper right light lit up, letting you know which was player 1 and which was player 2. The light also indicates whether the controller unit is turned on or off. Turning the wireless controllers on or off is done by pushing the silver XBox button in the middle of the controller.

How to get XBox 360 to recognize the controllers?

If you power up a new controller and the RIng of Light lights just keep cycling around in a circle without settling on a position, this means that the game console does not recognize that controller. This can happen with a new controller or when replacing batteries. To sync it up with the XBox 360, you need to first turn on your game machine, then turn on the wireless controller (push the XBox button and hold it until it lights up), then press the little connect button on the game console (round button to the right of the two memory slots on the front of the machine), then press the connect button on the rear of the wireless controller in between the left and right buttons that you normally push with your index fingers (above and to the right of the battery release button). The Ring of Light will cycle on the controller and then it will be assigned a position by the Xbox and stay lit. To turn a controller off or disconnect it, press and hold the Xbox button in the middle for a second or two until the light goes off - if you are in the middle of a game it will ask you if you want to turn off just the controller or the console as well. When the console powers down, all wireless controllers are automatically turned off.

We get this question a lot - "I took my wireless controller over to my friends house and it didn't work? How do I get my Xbox controller to work on another XBox?" As described above, you need to synch the game console with the controllers, and a controller can only work with one game system at a time. To move a controller from one Xbox to another, you need to go through the connect process each time you move to a new XBox (turn on, push connect button on XBox, push connect button on controller -- repeat process when you take controller back to your original Xbox).

XBox 360 Play and Charge Battery Kits

If you get tired of replacing AA batteries or having your controller die on you in the middle of a game (how can I tell when my Xbox controller batteries are low? your ring of light on the controller will start flashing around), you should conside the Xbox 360 Rechargeable Battery Pack and the Play and Charge Kit. The Rechargeable Battery pack simply replaces the regular AA battery compartment. You can buy an XBox 360 Quick Charge Kit for $30 from Amazon.com - it comes with the charging unit (and one battery pack) that can charge up to 2 battery packs at a time, in about 2-4 hours. It plugs into a normal electrical outlet, so there are no wires to connect to the XBox itself - put it out of the way on a shelf somewhere. Additional battery packs are about $12 each if you have multiple wireless controllers. How long do XBox 360 controller batteries last? You should get about 20-25 hours of play time per charge - you can see how much power is left in the batteries on the Xbox dashboard. The Play and Charge kit works differently. If you look on trigger side of the controller, you will see a little port up at the top near the connect button. That is for the Play and Charge adapter. The Play and Charge kit of XBox 360 costs $15 and works by plugging a cord into that port on the controller, and then connecting the other end into the XBox standard wired connector port -- you basically turn your wireless controller into a wired controller, and juice from the system flows into your controller, charging the battery pack while you play (hence the clever name, Play and Charge). This charging system is much slower than the external charger kit, but it can be plugged into any USB port (like on your computer) for charging (computer or XBox must be powered on in order for charging to occur), making it convenient to charge your batteries by plugging into your PC overnight.