Nintendo DSi Review
We take Nintendo's multimedia-enhanced DSi system to task and let you know if it's worth the $170.
It's been five years since Nintendo stirred up the handheld market with its incredibly popular Nintendo DS handheld. It's captivated owners everywhere with touch-screen capabilities and an appealing library of games, aimed at both family and hardcore players. Now Nintendo is taking the next step with its recently launched Nintendo DSi, a modified version of the system with a few new features. Is it worth the $170 price tag to upgrade, or should you stick with the DS Lite? Well, that depends on what you want out of the system.
Technically, two built-in cameras are the DSi's biggest additions. With these, you can take pictures of yourself and those around you. They use a simple point-and-shoot interface, great for those who want to snap quick pictures on the go. However, the resolution isn't the greatest. They're simple 0.3 megapixel, meaning that even the slightest of details can get lost depending on where you're shooting. For instance, if you're in a semi-dark room and take a quick photo, you'll barely see anything. Go somewhere with more light, however, and it'll look better. Also, there isn't much software available that takes advantage of these cameras, outside of the built-in features and the lame Wario Ware: Snapped!
Along with the built-in cameras, the DSi also went through a couple of cosmetic changes. The Game Boy Advance port on the bottom of the system is gone. This is going to be a letdown for those who want to play their older games on the system, or more recent stuff like Guitar Hero On Tour (since you plug the guitar grip attachment into the GBA port). On the other hand, a new SD card port is now included on the side of the system. You can use this feature to listen to AAC-supported songs as well as upload photos and other types of media. It can also be used for memory expansion, since the initial system memory only comes with around 1,000 blocks.
The other changes made to the DSi are minor, but worth mentioning. Instead of turning the system on and off by holding a button, you now simply press a button on the front of the system. The new model also has a sturdier, slimmer build, so you won't burden yourself with extra weight. (In fact, the manual that came in the box weighs more than the system.) The newly designed menu interface is very easy to see, with a scroll bar and instantly recognizable menu options. These include a photo mode, a sound mode (where you can record and modify sound effects to your liking) and settings.
Probably the biggest aspect DSi owners will notice is the ability to download games. We already reviewed the initial batch, including the awful Wario Ware: Snapped! and the cheap yet awesome Bird & Beans. There are only five available thus far (along with a very cool Opera web browser), but with strong third party support and plenty of Nintendo-made titles on the way, it'll only get better.
As for the way the DSi plays, it's as comfortable as ever. The d-pad feels better than the original system's, without any wear and tear on your thumb. The touch screen still reacts beautifully depending where you tap, and the matte finish means you won't have to worry about bothersome fingerprints. (However, it's still susceptible to scratches, so be careful.)
If you're content with the old DS Lite or you still own your old-school GBA library, you may want to hold off until the downloadable library expands with the supposed Game Boy additions. However, if you don't own a DS yet and/or love the new features, then by all means invest.
Pros: Sturdier (and slimmer) build, you can now download games, SD card support lets you transfer audio files and pictures, terrific new menu interface, two built-in cameras.
Cons: No Game Boy Advance cartridge slot, the built-in cameras are low resolution, limited built-in memory.
RATING: 4 (out of 5)