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3DS Powerplus
Score: 80%
Developer: Hyperkin
Device Type: Power


Function:

Having recently reviewed another Nintendo 3DS battery, Nyko's Power Pak +, it felt only right to take on Hyperkin's attempt to solve the battery life issue of the handheld, except that the 3DS Powerplus approaches the problem from a different angle.

While the Power Pak + completely replaced the internal battery of the 3DS for one with a bigger capacity, the 3DS Powerplus is an extra battery that slides around the bottom of your 3DS and plugs into the device's own charging port. In short, the Powerplus extends your existing battery's life by giving it, more or less, a second fuel tank.

Another way to put it is that the 3DS Powerplus is a portable charging station that will let you recharge your internal battery even if you aren't near a plug. Basically, you use your 3DS like always. You play as much as you can until the battery light starts to flash. Then, with a little flick of a switch on the back of the Powerplus, your system's Charging Light, the one with the little plug symbol next to it, comes on and you are playing just like you are plugged into the wall.

The Powerplus has its own charge indicator on the bottom of the black, non-slip surface. This is a series of four LED indicators that will light up when you press the button next to them. The more lights, the more reserve charge you have.

The only other detail worth mentioning about this device's design, besides how easily is slides around your 3DS and snaps into place, is the fact that it charges off of a standard USB mini connection. You know, the same one a PS3 controller plugs into. As a result, the 3DS Powerplus makes an attempt to standardize the Nintendo handheld's charging connection. Unfortunately, there are some odd issues involving the actual charging of the battery and 3DS that I observed and will talk about later in this review.


Performance:

The 3DS Powerplus claims to add an additional 1800 mAH (miliampere-hour). What does that mean? Well, instead of throwing out a number of hours that could vary greatly based on how you have your 3DS set up in order to conserve energy or turn on the bells and whistles, the marketing department at Hyperkin decided to give the hard scientific numbers on the box. Basically, this number gives you a more exact, if not somewhat abstract and hard to understand, idea of how much playtime the added battery pack will gain you.

Lets put it this way; the built-in battery for the 3DS yields 1300 mAH and lasts between three and five hours of life, depending on those various settings. Based on the fact that the Powerplus claims 1800 mAH, it should be safe to assume the added battery can give us another four to seven hours, provided my math isn't too far off. The good news is, the device definitely seems to deliver on this front.

In trying to keep my testing as close to that of the Power Pak + as possible, I once again pulled out Super Monkey Ball 3D, dusted off the notes I took on how I tested the Nyko battery and ran Hyperkin's product through the same paces, or at least as close to them as I could. I do have to admit through, I spent a lot of the non-testing time playing Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, so it wasn't the exclusive game in the machine during the review period, but I don't believe it skewed my tests that much.

My results pretty much matched the expected time frames based on how long the old battery lasted at 1300 mAH, and what the 1800 number should deliver. When I had all of the bells and whistles turned on and had the 3D screen going with wireless turned on and the brightness of the screen turned as high as it would go, I found I could get just about four additional hours from the Powerplus. I found that the reverse was pretty much true as well. Keeping the system in a more power-conservative mode stretched out the extra gameplay time well into the sixth hour, though not really making it to seven. Of course, add all this in combination with the life of the original battery and you should definitely be good for even some lengthy car trips.


Features:
  • Additional 1800 mAH Battery Power
  • Only 1/4 Inch Thickness
  • Lightweight - 2.2 ounces
  • Battery Life LED Indicator

Drawbacks & Problems::

Unfortunately, not everything about the 3DS Powerplus is perfect. The biggest problems I had came when both batteries where depleted after several long play sessions and it was time to charge them up. Basically, when I tried charging both devices while the Powerplus was still attached to the 3DS, I couldn't quite figure out which piece of hardware was getting charged when. The Hyperkin battery does seem to give you signs as to what is going on, but since the device doesn't come with any instruction booklets, I found it very hard to make heads or tails over what I was seeing.

When you have everything together and plugged in, and the switch on the 3DS Powerplus turned off (so the 3DS doesn't think it's plugged in and charging), the LED indicators on the bottom of the battery light up to show its charge level. It behaves just like it would if there wasn't a 3DS inside of it. If, on the other hand, you flip the switch so that the 3DS' charge indicator lights up, then the bottom LEDs start flashing. I can only assume that this means the Powerplus is not charging and its passing the energy to the 3DS. I can't really tell because it was hard to stay on it for any length of time while the devices were charging in order to see which battery filled up first. The reason for that is my other big problem with this device.

While I had the systems plugged in, and was playing a game, I would notice a screen flicker at regular intervals. This flicker wasn't constant, but it was regular enough to notice and get annoying really fast. As a result, I found that I simply couldn't play the 3DS while I had it plugged in, and the result of both of these issues has me charging both devices separately. Thankfully, the 3DS Powerplus slides off of the handheld easily and doesn't require any extra effort like the Power Pak +.

So, what should you do for your shorter-than-desired battery life? Well, both the Powerplus and Power Pak + have their strengths and weaknesses. The Nyko device uses your existing charging cradle, while the Hyperkin one uses a standard cable. Both devices add about the same amount of bulk to the handheld, but the Powerplus is easy to slip on and off while the Power Pak + feels sturdier and doesn't give you an odd screen flicker if you charge and play at the same time.

Personally, I don't think I will be reattaching Nyko's battery to my system. The ability to just slip off the extra bulk when I want to is a pretty big draw for me. As for long car trips, I will probably bring both with me, but I wouldn't recommend buying both products just for the sake of that possibility. I'm in a somewhat unique situation where that is concerned.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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