When I was first unpacking the Nintendo 3DS last week, I was admittedly perplexed about the charging cradle that Nintendo included with every system. After all, you can simply plug the device in to charge it, even without the cradle. You can even use your old DSi charger if you want. But, after a week of putting the 3DS through its paces, it all makes sense now. Were it not for the cradle, my 3DS would be in bad shape.
You don't really think about it, but plugging something like a handheld in is kind of a pain. You have to bend down, find the tip of the cable (which is usually amidst scores of other wires), find the correct port, find the correct way the plug fits and, well, plug it in. It makes me sound tremendously lazy, but now that I've seen the alternative, I'm not sure I can go back.
I have the 3DS charging cradle sitting on my desk at work. I've been carrying the 3DS with me on my commutes, so when I arrive, I simply drop the 3DS in the slot and when I'm leaving, I pull it out and put it in my bag. There's no latch or anything, so you can lift it off the cradle with one hand and it's good to go.
But the convenience of it isn't the reason Nintendo packed a charging cradle in with every system. Back in October of last year, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata held a Q&A with investors and spoke about the decision to include a cradle:
"As for the battery, it is inevitable that Nintendo 3DS will be a device which requires more frequent recharging than Nintendo DS. This is why we are going to include the cradle, which is a dedicated battery charger. Perhaps we may need to dispatch to our consumers a message, something like, 'Please place your Nintendo 3DS on the cradle as soon as you return home with it."
He wasn't kidding. The battery on the Nintendo 3DS is not exactly...robust. During my day-to-day commute it wasn't really a problem, but a recent trip up to Montreal showed that, even left in Sleep Mode with minimal play, the device will be out of juice in a day or two.
And Nintendo wants people to leave their devices in Sleep Mode so they can use Street Pass or collect Game Coins via the step tracker. Nintendo wants this to be the device you can carry with you every day, like your phone. And it can be. The charging cradle makes the 3DS the easiest daily commuter handheld (unless your commute is over 3 hours long or you're the one driving). But for long trips? You're better off with something like an iPod Touch or an iPad. Having great games is one thing, but if you're flying to Australia, you want a device that'll get you more than 10% of the way.