Review by Stevewins123

"The DSi - Another Step Into Portable Gaming!"

After waiting the long five months that the Nintendo DSi had been released in Japan for, the DSi was finally released, and made available to the North American public on April 5th, 2009. It had been four and a half years since the original DS was released on November 20, 2004, and almost three years since the console's second version, the Nintendo DS Lite, was released on June 11, 2006. Wow, the DSi really has come a long way since the original DS! All these years, and Nintendo's portable gaming system is still going as strong as ever. But will the DSi change this? If you're thinking about getting your first DS, then this version is likely going to be your first choice. However, if you're an existing DS user, either with the original DS, or the DS Lite, then the main question for you is whether or not you should upgrade to this newer version of the console. It has new features and all, but with the cost around 160 dollars (American), is it worth it?

Game Boy Advance Cartridge Slot
The absolute biggest problem with the Nintendo DSi is the lack of the Game Boy cartridge slot. In the two previous versions of the DS, there were places where you could pop in both Game Boy, and DS games, but in this version, the Game Boy section is no longer there. This basically stops the backward compatibility with the Game Boy Advance. However, playing Game Boy games isn't the only thing that the lack of the slot will affect. Many games, including Metroid Prime Hunters made use of an extra DS add-on, called the Rumble Pak. If you stuck that into your DS' Game Boy slot, your DS would "rumble" like a GameCube or Nintendo Wii controller. However, now that there is no place for that Rumble Pak to be inserted, it will become obsolete to all DSi users. Some more things that DSi users will need to sacrifice are the Guitar Hero games for the DS that have been made so far, as of the DSi's release These games made use of the Game Boy slot to be played, and can't be played without it. In the future, new types of Guitar Hero games might be made in a way that doesn't require the Game Boy slot, but until then, DSi users will have to give up playing Guitar Hero on their DS.

Hardware Changes - Camera
Though the lack of the Game Boy slot was met with negative thoughts from consumers, there are also many new hardware features in the DSi to make up for it. Most notably, there are two cameras on the device. One of them is on the outside of the device, that can be seen when the device is closed, and the other one of them can only be seen when the device is opened. While these two cameras definitely don't take pictures at a high enough quality to print out, they take pictures that seem quite good enough if viewed small, like on the DSi's screens. (Both cameras' resolutions are 640x480.) When you take pictures, you can save it to the devices memory, or to an external SD or SDHC card. Nintendo decided to follow the Wii's footsteps with the photos, and allows you to do similar things to the photos that you take on the DSi, as you would with the Photo Channel on the Nintendo Wii. You can do things such as add in clip art (such as hearts and speech bubbles), draw on the photos, distort the pictures, and you can do many other types of effects. If you liked what you could do in the Photo Channel of the Wii, you'll definitely like what you can do on the DSi.

Another nice thing about the camera is the fact that it is trying to be used in games. Nintendo is encouraging companies to use the camera in their games for the future, to add a whole new level of amusement. As of release, one game, available on the DSi Shop currently makes use of the camera in-game.

Hardware Changes - Buttons
Another hardware change on the DSi is the way that the buttons were moved around, and changed. While this isn't the most important, it's still definitely worth a mention. The first thing is that most of the buttons definitely don't stick out as much as they did on the DS Lite. The D Pad and the four circular buttons on the opposite side of the touch screen only stick out of the console about half as much. In some ways, this makes playing games easier, though for many others, this hardly makes a difference. For example, in Mario Kart DS, it's much easier to power slide with the DSi then it is with the DS Lite. On the other hand, the L and R buttons of the DSi stick out farther, allowing them to be pressed easier. Aside from these regular buttons, some switches on the DS Lite were changed to buttons. For the power switch, Nintendo decided to return to the original way of doing it, and changed the power switch on the DS Lite to a power button, located on the left side of the touch screen. The volume slide from the Lite was moved to where the power switch was on the Lite, and was replaced by two buttons, like on an iPhone - an increase volume button, and a decrease volume button. This is good, because now the volume won't change every time you bump into it. The way that the power button is now set up is also good, and adds to convenience, because if you tap it, you'll be brought back to the DSi Menu, and if you hold it down, you'll turn off the unit. Overall, I was quite impressed with the button changes, and thought that they were great for the device.

Hardware Changes - Size
When people say size matters, it matters. The DSi is a tiny bit thinner then the DS Lite, but at the same time, the DSi also manages to be a bit longer, and a bit wider - yet no more than just a few millimetres. The biggest size change would be the screens of the DSi which are both a quarter of an inch bigger than the Lite's screens, making them 3.25 inches. Next to that, the DSi's stylus is also 4.5 millimetres longer then the Lite's. On the back of the device is the charging port, which again, is a different size from the Lite's and from the original DS' charging spot. That reminds me, you might want to bring your charger around with you, because the battery on the DSi is smaller than it was in the Lite. To be precise, the battery capacity of the DSi is only 84 percent of the Lite's battery capacity. Combined with larger and brighter screens, this leads towards a much faster battery drain. The DS Lite had a battery that could power the device for approximately five to nineteen hours, but the DSi has a battery that can only power the device for three to fourteen hours, depending on the brightness and volume level that you choose. In conclusion about the size of the device, and of the battery, I must say that the screen's size increase is nice, but the fact that they changed the AC adapter needed to charge the device is disappointing, as well as the fact that they reduced the battery size.

Music and Sound
One of the most anticipated features about the DSi was the ability to listen to music on the device, making it a portable music player, as well as a portable gaming device. I must say, the DSi does what it promises, though I think it would be better if you could play multiple music files. As of its release, the device could play AAC music and audio files off of an SD or SDHC card that you insert into the right side of the device. The playback is quite good for songs, and the sound is quite good for games. The quality is fine, and if you really have any issues with the quality you could just plug in headphones to get the same sound quality as you would get from any MP3 player, or music-playing device. Overall, I would say that it gets the job done well.

As well as the music playback, there is also voice and sound recording. The sound recorder allows you to save up to eighteen different clips that can each be up to ten seconds, but no more. The system does this by using the microphone, which has been on the DS since the original. On the DSi, the microphone can be found on the hinge of the two screens, next to one of the cameras. During playback for these sound clips, you can also use a bunch of effects, to make playback more entertaining and interesting. For example, you could change the pitch by making it higher or lower, you could make it sound as though you were talking through a fan, you could make yourself sound like a parrot, and much more.

PictoChat has been a free feature that has come loaded on every Nintendo DS, since the original. It allows you to have a wireless chat room with people around you, using the DSi's wireless technology. In the feature, you can send people near you messages with text, or drawings that you make with the touch screen. Whether you're with friends or not, this feature is sure to provide some entertainment for a few minutes here and there. Unfortunately, this feature lacks the ability to be used on Wi-Fi, which would make it much more useful. Overall, it's fun to play around with if you're really bored, and if you don't have a game around to play.

DSi Shop
The DSi shop is much like the Wii Shop Channel, if you've ever used it. Basically, what happens is you use points to download games available on the store, and save them to the device using the device's 256 megabytes of internal memory. Obtaining points is as easy as ever, and you can do it through two different methods. The first one consists of going to a real store, and buying Points Cards which have 2000 points on them. One point is equivalent to around one American cent, so a 2000 point card will cost about 20 dollars. The second method of obtaining points to use in the DSi Shop is much easier, and much quicker. All you need to do is use a credit card, and you can purchase points right from your DSi! For both methods, the cost will be the same. The only difference is that with the second method, you don't even need to leave your home, which is an extremely nice feature. Once the points are downloaded, you're free to go into the shop and download whatever games that you want. Different games will cost different amounts of points, so make sure you keep track of how many you have left! As of release, the DSi Shop allows you to download the Opera Web Browser for the DSi completely free of charge. Overall, the DSi Shop is a really good idea.

Graphics & Screens
The graphics are nice, and show that the DS really is capable of good graphics. Of course, the graphics are nowhere near as good as what the PSP can deliver, with its huge screen and shiny display, but hey, the graphics on the DS are still fine. If you really want something shiny, invest in the PSP, but if you're not crazy about them, the DS will definitely get the job done with its two screens. Speaking about screens, they're really what make the DS family unique. Unlike with the PSP, the DSi's bottom screen is touch sensitive, giving control a whole new meaning. Really good game developers are able to use this touch screen to the fullest, making most games way more enjoyable then they would be if they were only controlled by buttons. Take The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for example. This game hardly uses buttons, yet the control is near flawless, and is a ton of fun. Without a touch screen, this game just wouldn't be the same. This touch screen technology is what makes first-person shooters like Metroid into shooters. It makes fighting into more than button mashing. It makes Mario Party more than a contest of pushing buttons. The touch screen is simply an amazing way to control games, and is definitely worth the praise it gets.

The multiplayer of the DSi is what makes games even more fun. Games like Mario Kart DS and Animal Crossing: Wild World seem so much better when you enjoy them with friends. And the best part? Even if your friends are halfway across the world from where you are, you can still play against each other over the internet, using Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The DSi supports internet play, using your own router, or any other access point. The second best part? The online multiplayer service is free, and won't cost you a penny to use, other than your internet bill. As long as you have a DSi, an access point, a connection to the internet, and a game that can be played on Wi-Fi, you're good to go!

In conclusion, the DSi is an awesome addition to the Nintendo DS family. There's a much bigger difference between the DSi and the Lite then there was between the Lite and the Original DS, and most of the differences are positive. If you don't have any form of DS from the Nintendo DS family, then you should definitely invest in the DSi. The game library is great, the features are great, the multiplayer is great, etc. However, if you already have a form of the DS, it's a really tough decision on whether or not to upgrade. Hopefully, from what you've read here, you'll be able to decide. Good luck, and happy gaming!!

- Camera, music playback
- DSi Shop
- PictoChat
- Great Multiplayer and Game Library
- Touch Screen
- More convenient buttons

Could be better:
- Bigger battery
- Needs the Game Boy Advance slot

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 04/07/09, Updated 04/13/09

Game Release: Nintendo DSi Hardware (US, 04/05/09)

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