MyCharge PowerGame Review: Last Longer
Kalvin Martinez / Aug 21st, 2018 No Comments
The bane of any portable electronic is its battery life. We’ve known that since we had to carry extra AA batteries when we played Pokemon on old GameBoys and GameBoy Colors as kids. However, the advent of the smart device age has led to a whole new problem of more ubiquity that outpaces the longer battery life. We need our screens at all points of the day or we’re lost. Worse yet, we may be unable to capture Pokemon yet again! The rise of the portable battery has been a lifesaver for many of us to keep our devices going.
Nintendo’s latest console took the world by surprise. It has become one of the most popular consoles currently, and has reversed the dire fortunes the Wii U caused. The most exciting aspect of the Nintendo Switch is its hybrid nature. It can go from home console to portable console simply by dropping in or taking it out of a dock. Like smart devices, we never imagined being able to get such a revolutionary experience anywhere we’d like. Thus, the cycle starts over of us worrying about how best to keep our gaming going when on the go.
There are plenty of options to help ameliorate the battery life of the Nintendo Switch. An obvious one is the car charger, which is a relic at this point of childhood car trips where we sucked the battery of our parents’ cars as we tried to play til it got too dark to see anything on the screen or we got to our destination. The drawback to that is most of us are playing our Switches on a plane, a train and really anywhere but an automobile.
Another solution is carrying a home charger and hoping to get a sweet infusion at some coffee shop or at work, but buying the official Nintendo charger isn’t cheap and trying to navigate the right voltage on a USB-C cord and charger can be a headache. Plus carrying those cords in a bag can be cumbersome. Worst of all, you can’t keep gaming while charging unless you like being tethered to one spot, which defeats the purpose of portable gaming.
Even portable batteries with a USB-C cord can be really clunky. It has the same issue of a static charging cable. If only there was a solution as elegant as the charging cases that many people use for their smartphones.
Lucky for Switch users, McCharge has created a product for the Nintendo Switch that helps extend the battery life with a clever removable battery. The MyCharge PowerGame portable charger is a device that Switch owners may have never thought they needed, but honestly, if you play on the go at all, it may be necessary.
No One System Should Have All That Power
PowerGame comes in very simple packaging. In the box is the PowerGame unit itself and a shorter USB type-C cord to charge it. The beauty of the PowerGame as opposed to the Switch itself is that it can be charged using any wall charger. This give you a lot more flexibility to charge the unit and, by extension, your Nintendo Switch whenever and wherever you want without worrying about frying your battery.
In terms of charging the PowerGame, it takes a few hours to get a full charge, which is recommended before use. Aside from aesthetics and build quality, which are very important, the real question about the PowerGame is does it do what it say it will. Does it help significantly extend your Switch’s battery life?
While we can build the suspense about the claims of battery life for the PowerGame, we’ll cut it short and tell you that yes, it does extend your Switch’s battery life. The question of how much was the subject to test.
Our initial testing on the PowerGame revolved around playing a fully charged Nintendo Switch down to critically low battery levels (5%) then using the PowerGame to give it a full charge. Doing so charged the Switch to full with one bar left on the PowerGame. With one bar remaining, we played the Switch back down to 5% and then charged using the remaining juice. The one bar got us back up to 25% battery for the Switch.
Basically, you’ll get around a full charge and a quarter out of a fully charged PowerGame. The hours of gameplay vary depending on what games you’re playing and your brightness. Say you wanted to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or other more intensive games. You can play for about three hours on a fully charged Switch, so you’ll get another 3 hours and 30 minutes with the PowerGame.
We played less intensive indie titles and games like Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido, which gave us around 5 hours of play plus another 5 hours and 30 minutes. Essentially, the PowerGame gave us around 6-10 hours of continuous play without having to dock or charge the Switch in a wall unit, which is fantastic.
In addition to this test, we played the Switch using the PowerGame continually attached. This resulted in a lot longer use of the Switch, but the hour breakdown becomes less precise. What this test came down to was charging the Switch as the battery dipped below 80%-75% back to 100%. This got us a lot of charge over a few days. However, this approach has a few drawbacks.
It relies on removing the PowerGame when the battery gets lower because when the PowerGame charges to the Switch to 100%, it disengages to conserve power. So, if you want to charge again, you have to unlock it and reconnect the dock of the PowerGame to the Switch USB type-C port. This isn’t terribly difficult, but that’s where you run into the major weakness of the PowerGame: the locking mechanism.
Link and Build
Before we dive back down into some of the drawbacks to the PowerGame’s build, let’s appreciate that the PowerGame is a gorgeous looking device. It is compact, elegant and has great form function. It is so unobtrusive when playing games that is is shocking. When the PowerGame is attached to the Switch, your fingers rest smoothly at the edges of the casing, meaning you get extended battery life without ruining your ability to continue playing. It also solves the tabletop quandary of the Switch by giving you a beefy and sturdy kickstand with enough weight and elevation to give you a great vantage of the Switch’s gorgeous screen.
The PowerGame has a lock/unlock latch on its back. This allows you to unlock the top hatch where you can pull it up and back, giving you space to dock your Switch neatly to its dock point. Then, you can simply push the hatch back and tamp it down to attach it to the Switch. Pushing the latch back to the lock position means the Switch is firmly in place with no give.
This is where we can experience the few drawbacks of the PowerGame. Make no mistake, it is heavy. It adds significantly to the weight of the Nintendo Switch when attached. Also, it makes the Switch a lot bulkier, but it should fit into most carrying cases (it fit into the Breath of the Wild special edition carrying case without issue). While the weight is forgivable for the benefits it gives in terms of battery life, it certainly is something to be aware of.
While the weight is understandable, the durability of the lock/unlock button on the back of the PowerGame is less understandable. It is a necessary feature, but the button is gummy. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish whether it is locked or unlocked. Most concerning is its durability. After attaching and removing the PowerGame a dozen or more times over the two weeks we tried it out, the button seemed to show a lot of wear.
Whether the button becomes unusable over significant use or not is something to be seen, but it should be known that it is an issue. This is why probably using it as a removable battery rather than a constant fixture is more advisable. This will subject the lock mechanism to a lot less potential wear.
MyCharge’s PowerGame has a lot of strengths. It’s biggest strength is simply how much extra life it gives your Switch. It also elegantly allows you to use it when you need and be able to take it off when you don’t, while also making tabletop mode viable.
Despite its few flaws, this is a definite must for anyone who plays their Nintendo Switch in handheld mode and on the go a lot.
The MyCharge PowerGame was reviewed thanks to a device provided by the manufacturer.
tags: MyCharge , MyCharge PowerGame , MyCharge PowerGame review , Nintendo Switch , PowerGame , review