Nintendo’s DS handheld has already been through a facelift once in the past, moving from a clunky and unattractive form to the stylised Lite version that saw new colours and better button placement. It was something more for the iPod generation.
Many would argue that any changes to the Lite console is needless and unwanted, However Nintendo feel that it is once again time for change and with it comes the DSi.
The DSi is in essence a DS Lite but with more bells and whistles. Compared to it’s older brother, the DSi is the arrogant talented younger sibling whose constant superiority confuses and shames it’s older counterpart.
With more to play with in this iteration, Nintendo seem to be looking to turn the DS into a portable Wii.
By giving the base menu a complete overhaul to make it look and act like a Wii, This feels like a whole new console rather than a reboot. Upon starting up the DSi, after being greeted by the usual warning screen, You will see that you now have many channels at your disposal. These act just like the Wii dashboard and each channel will house your many applications that will build up over time.
So how do you fill these channels?
To answer this question you need to know what is new with the DSi compared to the DS Lite.
The most apparent changes are the addition of two cameras, one on the outside and one on the hinge inside the unit. You also now have the ability to use SD memory cards inside the DSi, This will enable you to play music and video content as well as saving pictures and programs to the card.
So the camera channel is one of the few channels you’ll start with and along with that you’ll notice a Nintendo store as well. Venturing in here you will see that you can download games and additional channels in exchange for Nintendo points which you also use on the Wii.
Inside the Nintendo store you can download your next channel which is another new feature of the DSi, an internet browser. You could go online with the previous DS but you would need a cartridge to allow you to do it. Now it’s stored on your home menu you can fire it up and browse until your hearts content.
Browsing the net is a simple affair and the stylus is great as a replacement mouse. You can do pretty much anything you would with a PC except any heavy duty video streaming and such. However checking your e-mails and favourite sites is now an ability you have while on the go, assuming you’re near a wifi hotspot.
So other than taking pictures and manipulating them, buying DSiWare on the Nintendo store and browsing the net, What else is new?
Well, the Gameboy advance slot is now gone, a shame for anyone who loves portable retro gaming or strumming away the time on guitar hero, But everything else is additions.
The screen is now bigger, growing by 0.25 inches, which doesn’t sound much but is definitely noticeable. Along with the screen getting bigger the unit itself has shrunk;
Nintendo DSi: Width 137mm, Length 74.9mm, Thickness 18.9mm (touch pen is approx. 92mm in length)
Nintendo DS Lite: Width 133mm, Length 73.9mm, Thickness 21.5mm (touch pen is approx. 87.5mm in length)
With these being the main changes to the unit, you can overlook the fact that the power switch from the side of the DS Lite is now a button on the inside of the unit and the volume slider is now a toggle switch on the side rather than on the bottom.
The last major change is purely cosmetic, the DS Lite had a gloss sheen to it but this has been ousted for a chalky matt finish. At first a great decision to eliminate fingerprints however if you manage to catch it with a fingernail or something similar it will have a temporary scuff which looks ugly. Not a huge issue but on a black unit it can be slightly off putting.
Is the upgrade worthwhile?
Yes, if you want to use the raft of DSi only games that Nintendo are bound to release once the console is in full swing. The cameras are fun for the first hour and then are forgotten, this will be until the inevitable series of games that truly utilises the new additions.
Most of these new features will only really be used if you don’t have an iPod or indeed something portable to watch video content on.
Only if these things are a necessity for you or you don’t already own Nintendo’s handheld should you purchase a DSi. Otherwise you may not be blown away by changes seen.
That being said it’s a fun console and kids will have a great time with the camera and it’s software included.
Another great handheld from the greats, but was it really needed? The decision is yours.