Let's face it. The onboard battery for the 3DS stinks. It gets around 3 to 5 hours on a single charge, depending on the settings. Those numbers aren't anywhere near the DSi XL or DS Lite. Too bad there isn't a solution. Well, turns out, there is.
With the Charge Base for 3DS, Nyko is bringing its PowerPak battery and its Charge Base range to the Nintendo 3DS. This is an entirely new double capacity Lithium Ion Polymer battery that must be changed out with the 3DS's onboard battery.
But is extra juice worth the extra effort?
Adding the PowerPak will increase the width of the 3DS by under half an inch. Charging the battery is a snap, and there is even a cradle, called the Charge Base, which I tested. According to Nyko, the PowerPak will double the battery life for the 3DS.
As mentioned above, you'll need to unscrew the bottom of your 3DS and take out the portable's battery. In its place, you'll screw in the PowerPak. To use it, you...turn on your Nintendo 3DS. This is a battery, so you gotta turn the machine on and play video games. Recharging it is a snap, especially with the cradle.
What We Liked
It Pretty Much Delivers: Nyko says the PowerPak battery will double the life of the 3DS. And...that's pretty much what it does! Nyko doesn't give exact figures on the box, due to obvious variations with settings, but in the time I had with the battery, I could get in the neighborhood of between 4 hours (with the settings turned up) to 7 hours (with settings turned down). These figures depend on play conditions and setting, but I was getting somewhat close to double the life. The PowerPak and Charge Base do what they're supposed to, extend playtime. We like that.
Floating 3DS: Adding the PowerPak also adds width to the machine. I don't like the width (I get that to that in a second), but I do like how Nyko attempted to hide the added bulk. The PowerPak tapers in, giving in a sleeker appearance. Resting the 3DS on a table or desk, actually gives it the appearance of floating, and does make it slightly easier to pick up.
Smooth To Touch: The PowerPack is covered in smooth rubber, which is quite nice to the touch. I actually prefer it to the gloss of the 3DS, but that's probably a personal choice. Nyko added two groves to rest fingers, which might also make this an ideal solution for those who find the 3DS too small in the hands.
Lit Up: Yes, it might keep you up at night, but the Charge Base's colored lights make it easy to check across the room if the 3DS is fully charged. Heck, you could probably check across the street.
Longer Charge Time: Bigger battery means...a longer charge. This is actually a plus, because while the battery doubles the 3DS's life, that doesn't mean it needs twice as long to charge. I found that it only needed around an hour more than the regular 3DS battery for a full charge. Great news!
What We Didn't Like
Wide Load: Nyko did an excellent job of masking the added size and width, but psychologically, the PowerPak battery just makes the 3DS feel much bigger. In reality, it doesn't add too much weight and bulk, but if you like the sleek three-layer desk of the 3DS, you may not want another layer. The added size did make the 3DS slightly less pocket-sized.
The Bottom Line
The Charge Base for 3DS delivers where the original 3DS battery falls short, and and for that, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. The Charge Base for 3DS might not be ideal for daily use due to the added size, but during long distance travel, it certainly could come in handy when you need that extra juice most.
The Charge Base for 3DS was manufactured by Nyko for the Nintendo 3DS, released on March 27. Retails for $29.99. A unit was given to us by the manufacturer for review purposes. Charged up my 3DS and didn't have it suddenly die on me. Woot!