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Nintendo 3DS: Futuristic Handheld, Retro Battery

Battery Life: Where’s the Beef?

So now we have to address the one true stinker about the Nintendo 3DS: Battery Life. To put it bluntly, the battery life on the 3DS is terrible when compared to previous DS handhelds.

The DS Lite, with the screen at its maximum brightness and max volume, will last between five and six hours on a full charge. Under the right conditions, you can squeeze nearly 20 hours of playtime out of the device before charging again. The DSi, while not as good as the DS Lite, could still go for up to 14 hours. So how does the 3DS fare in similar conditions? With maximum brightness, volume and the 3D on, you’re looking at roughly 2.5 hours of gaming. Even with those factors eliminated (playing at lower brightness, no WiFi and no 3D) the 3DS will die somewhere between the five and six hour marks. That means the best-case scenario for the 3DS is roughly as good as the worst-case for the DS Lite. Nintendo launched its handheld console business with the original Game Boy. Battery life was a crucial selling point for that device – especially when compared to the battery-eating SEGA Game Gear – so to see a company stray so far from its roots is a little disappointing.

Because you’ll be charging your 3DS way more than your DS Lite or DSi, Nintendo ships the console with a dock to make connecting and disconnecting from the power source a little easier. There are no buttons or fasteners to deal with; simply drop the 3DS into place and you’re done. There is even a small door that gives you access to the cartridge so you can swap games out while charging. Of course you can charge the 3DS directly through the included adapter, but the dock is a nice touch.

  • Ok
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  • tapher
    I am Yoshi's Great Partner!
    Reply
  • MULTITAKSING!
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  • septembrium
    Anyone know what the specs are on the QR Code reader features of the Nintendo 3DS? It's pretty hard to find information about it. Can't wait to get my hand on it by the way!
    Reply
  • dconnors
    septembriumAnyone know what the specs are on the QR Code reader features of the Nintendo 3DS? It's pretty hard to find information about it. Can't wait to get my hand on it by the way!
    Are you looking for something specific? To read QR codes you use the camera on the back of the 3DS, but beyond that Nintendo has been pretty tight-lipped on things.

    -Devin
    Reply
  • shqtth
    Not an untested technology. Most of the samsung LCD displsys had this 3d technology at the Vancouver 2010 (winder olympics).

    I seen it when I visited the Ontario Pavilion. It was quite cool. And it works !
    Reply
  • Nexus52085
    Nice review. Thanks, Toms. I really don't think I'll be able to get one on day one, even though I'd really like to. That being said, I played this thing at the demo station in Grand Central, and it is a whole lot of fun.
    Reply
  • arlandi
    Speaking as a father of 2 girls:
    The short battery life issue may be a good thing for children playing this gadget. since sometimes they can be glued to their games for a very long time. short battery life will force them to take a break and do other things (like study, do their homework, etc).
    Speaking as a gamer:
    i hope this thing will autosave whenever battery power is drained...
    Reply
  • dconnors
    arlandiSpeaking as a father of 2 girls:The short battery life issue may be a good thing for children playing this gadget. since sometimes they can be glued to their games for a very long time. short battery life will force them to take a break and do other things (like study, do their homework, etc).Speaking as a gamer:i hope this thing will autosave whenever battery power is drained...
    Auto-saving is usually a game-side feature. There are two battery indicator lights that flash red once the battery is close to drained, so you should get plenty of warning so you can plug the 3DS in.

    -Devin
    Reply
  • I was really impress with this write up. My oldest was starting to get all starry-eyed about this. But I think that we can wait for the next generation and see if the battery life improves. Here in Southern Cali... 2.5 hours is a typical car ride (stoopid traffic)... and the DS lite can easily get us there and back.

    Thanks for the article!
    Reply