3DS Accessory Review: Alternate title: Nyko Power Pack+ or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love 3rd Party Batteries
The stock battery on the 3DS is embarrassing?as someone who lambasted the PlayStation Portable's pathetic battery when Sony's handheld first launched, I'd be a hypocrite not to admit it. While it's possible to squeeze around five hours out of it with the brightness low, the Wi-Fi off, and the 3D slider all the way down, the system barely scratches the three-hour mark with all of the features turned on. With realistic, practical use (brightness mid-way, 3D used inconsistently, Wi-Fi only one when it's necessary), most will get around three hours, which might be enough for most circumstances, but not all. Luckily, Nyko has a solution: the Power Pack+.
I'm usually very weary of third-party products to begin with. Ones that make me unscrew my system and replace a piece of the hardware? Doubly so. But with the 3DS's battery as weak as it was, I was ready to experiment.
I had no problem popping off the bottom of my system (with the included screwdriver and extra screws) and slapping on the replacement battery. It only took a few minutes, and when I was done the battery, which adds around 1/4th of an inch and some weight to the device, felt very secure. This extra bulk is actually not encumbering in any way, and only really presents one real issue: it prevents use of the included charging dock, and you'll need to buy a Nyko dock if you want to enjoy semi-wireless charging. The regular cord still works, though, so it's really not an issue.
Beyond that, the added weight doesn't really cause any problems. It's still small enough to fit into most carrying cases as long as they're not form-fitting, and it's still a svelte device, even with the added size. In fact, for those with bigger hands, it might actually be preferred. It's a little rubbery, which takes some getting used to, but it ends up feeling good in a couple of minutes.
But unless it brings the juice, it wouldn't be worth it. So is it worth spending the money, unscrewing the bottom of your 3DS, and changing the battery? Abso-freaking-lutely. I didn't do any scientific tests, but I did keep track of how long the battery lasted in a number of situations, and in every instance the battery lasted just about twice as long. This meant about seven hours of uninterrupted Zelda play before needing to recharge, when before I felt like I should stay near a power source, just in case. With all of the features turned on the battery still drained faster than I would have liked, but it was double what I got without the Power Pack+.
Before I installed the battery, it felt like I needed to always worry about taking the 3DS on the road for fear seeing the red battery light flashing at an inopportune moment. Cross-country trips? As I learned from flying from the east coast to the west for E3, the 3DS's battery can't make the whole trip. With this battery, the Wi-Fi off, and the 3D down? It would make the entire flight without a problem.
So, Seriously? That Good?
I'm serious when I say I'm hard to impress when it comes to third-party peripherals. I refuse to buy controllers, memory cards, or anything else unless it has the company's name on the device. Despite my absolute bias, I was completely turned around when I used the Power Pack+. It does exactly what it says it does: doubles the battery life of the 3DS, and does so without harming the design. At $29.99 it's a must-buy for anyone interested in long gaming sessions for the handheld, and no one is more surprised about that than I am.