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|Nintendo DS/DSI/3DS Anything Nintendo DS, DS Lite, 3DS, and DSi related.|
|11-06-2008, 12:37 AM||#1|
A True Rocker
Nintendo DSi Hands On
This was all posted by Craig Harris of IGN.
November 5, 2008 - In late 2004, the original Nintendo DS shipped. After about a year and change on the market it got a much needed update in the form of the Nintendo DS Lite. More than two and a half years later, Nintendo has given the system a second upgrade in the form of the Nintendo DSi. The system has been available since the weekend in Japan and has promptly sold out since it hit shelves; Nintendo of America will be releasing the DSi in the United States but won't bother to until after the holiday rush when the Nintendo DS Lite has taken its course. Which means only Japan will be enjoying the system for the next few months. Or those who pay the import premium. And that's what we did: we obtained both systems – black and white -- and put them through their paces.
Two and a half years is almost an eternity for a gadget to go completely untouched – just look at the cellphone and iPod markets -- so the update wasn't entirely unexpected. The Nintendo DSi has been released along side the DS Lite in Japan, but it's clear that, eventually, the DSi will take over and the DS Lite will go the way of the original Nintendo DS.
The new system introduces new features on the old shape, size, and layout of the existing Nintendo DS systems – it's a little more angular, and there are subtle size and weight differences, but for the most part the system feels just like a Nintendo DS Lite in the hands. The two color systems utilize a "matte" finish; if you've played around with the dual-tone DS Lite system and felt the "grain" of the black interior of the unit, then you'll understand the gritty texture of the DSI systems. The matte finish makes it less prone to fingerprints, but – at least with the Black DSi – you'll see scratches show up more over time. More scuffs than scratches, though.
The screens are a little bigger than DS Litebut not by much -- it's certainly noticeable when you put the two systems together. The buttons and D-Pad have also taken on the "clicky" ones that were used in the Game Boy Advance SP; whether that makes them better or more responsive is a personal preference, but I haven't found any issues with playing existing DS games using these newer, tighter inputs.
With the new system comes a new power adapter: just like the DS Lite required its own AC Adapter, so does the DSi. Check out the differences in port shape:
The Nintendo DSi adds a ton of new features which I'll get to, but it does remove one feature: the Game Boy Advance slot. There's no GBA compatibility, and DS games that require the GBA slot for peripherals will not work on the DSi.
But for all that's been changed, to only lose the GBA slot is pretty impressive. The DSi features a ton of new elements: two cameras, an SD card slot, a brand new menu interface, a firmware-updateable operating system, a music player, a photo viewer, and the ability to download games and software from the internet through the DSiWare store. The system even improves on standard Nintendo DS elements: you no longer are forced to turn off your system whenever you've adjusted a setting or if you want to pop out a game cartridge. The power button is a soft reset first that kicks any DS game to the main menu. You can even pop out a DS cartridge and put another one in – the cards are now hot-swappable and you can watch the system change the menu accordingly.
With the two cameras comes some pretty cool software to take and manipulate photos. You can adjust the live feed on the fly to squinch and squash the image coming in before you take a picture, turning your friends into alien heads before their photo is taken. There are some pretty excellent face tracking capabilities that seem like they're lifted from the software used in the Japan-only Face Training DS product – you can put mustaches and glasses on your friends and the software will move them in proportion when they move on-screen; it's not perfect but it works better when you apply it to photos already taken. There are modes where you can take a photo of one friend and a photo of another, and it will automatically morph the two photos together. There's even an option to take a photo of two friends side-by-side and the software will determine how closely they resemble each other.
Both cameras are the same resolution, a miniscule 640x480, but the images show up surprisingly well on the DSi's screens. The refresh is also pretty good in well-lit areas, but the live feed tends to chug in dark environments. Yes, it would have been great if the cameras were at least a megapixel or more to meet with cellphone standards, but for what you can do and the results you get out of them, it's hard to complain about what Nintendo choice in optics.
Also built-in is a music player that offers some cool, "for fun" capabilities like "speed up/down, pitch up/down" controls for your AAC files pulled in through SD cards (no MP3 support). There are a few cool visualizers you can pull up and switch that shows off the music in image form, from the standard kaleidoscope to crazy Nintendo themes like Excitebike with hills that form via the music intensity, and Super Mario Bros. where coins show up based on the tune. You can adjust all sorts of effects to make the song sound like it's an 8-bit NES game, or if it was being played out of an old-timey radio. You can also record your voice and save the sample, and perform even more effects on those samples – and then apply them to the song as it's being played on your DSi.
The DSi also has improved online capabilities. You now have to set up the online functions via a system menu option; however, we had some problems getting this to connect properly, and it had nothing to do with the language barrier. Fortunately, the system works with online DS games and can be configured there – I booted up Advance Wars: Days of Ruin and went to Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, and configured the online through this. The settings save to the built-in Wi-Fi of the DSi, and the configuration worked like a champ for everything else.
The first thing I had to do was update the firmware – yes, the DSi is now completely updateable just like Wii – and then I could access the DSiWare store. The only software available so far is the Opera Browser – it's free. When you download programs you get Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad throwing blue balls into a box in a progress bar – we're guessing the next Nintendo system will incorporate Super Mario 3 in some fashion. Once the software's downloaded, it shows up in the DSi menu as an unopened present. Tap it once and it turns into a Channel icon.
Just as Opera wasn't a very good browser on the original DS, the same can be said for the DSi version. It's a little faster and a little more compatible this time around, but not by much – it was hit or miss when a webpage loaded fully. Mobile versions of sites, like Digg.com, were more dependable. If you already have the Browser for the regular DS or DS Lite then you can expect a similar experience. In other words, you'll go "hey, I'm on the web," and never use it again because it's frustratingly slow and incompatible.
The Nintendo DSi still has Pictochat as well as the DS Download options to make it as compatible with existing DS systems as possible. Pictochat is not online, but you don't have to power down your DS after you leave the program.
Overall the system is an impressive upgrade over the Nintendo DS Lite, and I have no doubt that it will be snagged by consumers as soon as it hits these shores. The DSi is not import friendly, though – unlike the DS and DS Lite's ability to switch the language from Japanese to a variety of western language settings, the Japanese DSi only offers Japanese languages – all menu options are in Japanese. What's more, like the Wii system and its territory-specific WiiWare channel, you'll only be able to access the DSiWare channel for the system's territory. So if you get this Japanese system you'll only be able to download Japanese DSiWare. But cartridge based DS software is not territory specific, so you can still play North American, Japan, and Euro software on the DSi.
My advice: as cool as it is to get the DSi early, hold onto your money and wait until 2009 for the US version.
Thank you Craig Harris for this information.
Last edited by YankeeFan802; 11-06-2008 at 12:39 AM.
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