This weekend I picked up a Nintendo DSi for myself, after having bought one for Nadia for her birthday. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, the DSi is the second hardware revision of Nintendos popular dual-screened portable game system. The difference this time are larger, brighter screens and integrated cameras.
So, how’s it work?
Well, not to mince words: It works great. It’s been quite some time since I’ve been this happy with a new piece of hardware, but the DSi is just great.
It’s roughly the same size as a light, if a bit thinner and lighter. This is due to no longer having a GBA port. The shell isn’t that slick, glossy plastic that was on the DS Lite – it’s a matte finish, and doesn’t feel like it’s gonna slip out of your hand. Not sure how it’ll stand up to scratches over time, but since none of my other handhelds have ever had a problem with scratches, I don’t expect this one to either.
The screens are much larger – and both brighter and more colorful. It’s much easier to see what’s going on, and games just look better on it. I’m not kidding – comparing the DSi and the DS Phat, it’s easy to see which one looks better in terms of graphics.
The buttons, I think, are placed better than they were on the DS Lite as well. Things are spaced better, and my hands no longer want to cramp as I’m playing. Can’t really say exactly why, but that’s just how it is.
So, the hardware is – in my opinion – better.
How’s the software?
When you power the system on, the system menu is a combination of the standard Sony XMB (seen on the PS3 or PSP) and the Will home screen – a welcome update from the funky, dated four-button mashup that was the original DS screen. Going in and out of any of the included software (settings, camera, recorder, etc) is simple, and – get this – does not require a re-boot of the DSi! Amazing, huh? Finally, changes can be made without having to power down and back on!
In a related note, simply tapping the power button acts as a soft reset- doesn’t power the system down, but does cause it to reset back to the DSi home screen.
The free web browser, available as a download from the DSi Ware store, sucks. It’s not good at all – it’ll barely display web pages, but it does so very slowly. Even though it’s based on Opera, it’s still a pile of crap. Hopefully other, better freebies will show up in time.
The OS is also vastly improved.
How’s the camera?
It’s a mixed bag. Taking pictures with it – in good lighting conditions – is fun. The camera works, in that pictures are taken – and some of the filters are fun too. By popping in an SD card, you can transfer your pictures off your DSi and on to a computer… And, as you can tell by the gallery below, this is not a replacement for a regular, real camera. It’s not even close. But, for messing around it’s pretty good. I’ve included a gallery of shots taken on my, and Nadias, DSi.
All told, this is a great system, and the DS that you should by if you don’t already have one. If you still have a DS Phat, it might be worth considering a trade – it’s far superior to the old hardware. If you happen to have a DS Lite, however – it might not be worth it.
All told, with my DS Lite as trade, the system set me back $120. I think it’s money well worth it – I’m actually happy to play my DS again.