Test Driving the New Nintendo DSi

Oh, look.  An "inflated ego" lens...

Oh, look. An "inflated ego" lens...

It’s been a while since I’ve been interested in picking up a new handheld system. My DS had sufficed to keep me entertained for countless hours and was among one of the first batches to hit the states when they initially came out. I had flirted with the idea of picking up a DS Lite but after a few minutes with a demo model, I’d decided against it. But then I got my hands on my DSi.

The first thing I noticed was how sturdy it felt compared to the Lite and even compared to my old DS. The shoulder buttons felt less “mushy” as did the buttons on the face. The heft was good, not too heavy, well balanced, making it a bit less cumbersome than the original DS but more solid feeling than the Lite.

Turning on the device for the first time, I was set up and running off of my wireless router fairly quickly. The DSi located and recognized my router as well as the neighbor’s and the process for connecting to a WiFi network was painless and rather “idiot” proof. A quick perusal of the online features of the DSI showed there was no built in web browser which was an initial disappointment for me but it was short lived. Within moments of checking the Nintendo marketplace, I had downloaded the free web browser and was checking out the Busy Gamer website.

The next step was to check out the latest innovation of including two cameras on the device. I had known going in that the cameras were fairly low resolution but I was pleasantly surprised to see they were better than what I expected. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be taking vacation pics with my DSi but they are quite capable of taking a decent closeup shot to play with using the built in photo editing software. The user facing camera is built into the hinge of the device allowing me to easily take pictures of my ugly mug while the external facing camera is on the top of the device facing outward when the device is open.

The built in software for editing photos isn’t going to make you throw away your copy of Photoshop but it’s certainly good for a few laughs. I distorted my own image until it was barely recognizable and made a kaleidescope image that was largely nostrils and lips. That’s an admittedly limited usage but it amused me for several minutes and I imagine would keep me entertained when I was taking a break from playing games.

Yeah, you'll be seeing that one in your sleep tonight...  My bad.

Yeah, you'll be seeing that one in your sleep tonight... My bad.

And that brings me to the screens on the device. They’re noticeably larger than the DS screens and when I fired up Final Fantasy Tactics A2, I noticed a fairly decent difference in the way the game looked. It wasn’t that the graphics were any better but they did seem crisper with brighter colors. A quick play through of a battle showed me that the DSi did not sacrifice performance for any of the new bells and whistles the DSi has to offer.

The inclusion of the SD slot was a wonderful idea and the slot itself is easily accessible with a cover over it that feels more secure than on other similar devices. I found my spare 1 Gig SD card and popped it into the device and it was recognized immediately. While I haven’t loaded the device with any music or videos, the SD form factor means I can place the card in my card reader for my PC for file transfers rather than relying on a USB cable and software solution.

While I am still acclimating to the new finish on this device, the rubberized feel make it comfortable to hold and doesn’t make me feel like I will drop it if I’m walking and playing at the same time. It may actually be more prone to scratches and nicks than the DS or the Lite due to the finish but I haven’t had the misfortune of putting that to the test yet. I’ll just knock on some wood now…

Overall, I would happily recommend this device to anyone looking to upgrade from their SP or DS. While the new DSi lacks the slot to play Advance games, it would appear from the brief period that I spent in the market that older favorites may make the transition to downloadable content. My DS games are finding new life with the DSi, however, and I am pleased that I decided to add the DSi to my portable device collection.
Gritskrieg – End of Line

Posted By Gritskrieg

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