Review: Nintendo DSi

How many Nintendo DSes are cluttering up your house? Need another? Yes, you do: If you’re a fan of the company’s products, get ready to part with another two Benjamins and upgrade to the Nintendo DSi. While it might look roughly like the current DS Lite model — a little trimmer, slightly longer — it’s a whole different story under the matte hued exterior. Here, let’s take a look inside.

The DSi continues Nintendo’s push into digital distribution — much like the WiiWare shop on its home console, you can buy DSi games directly from the system’s menu. The only app available at launch is a web browser designed by Opera, which gave us zero problems when we downloaded it. DSi connected to our password-secured wireless network in the get-gadget office easily, and worked fairly flawlessly with Nintendo’s USB dongle too.

256 MB of onboard memory gives you a little bit of space to store these apps, but hard-core players will undoubtedly need more. An SD card slot on the side of the unit lets you increase the available space, although we couldn’t execute the web browser directly from the SD card — we had to move it to the internal memory in order to get it to launch. If that holds true for games, too, then expect to have to copy and move files back and forth if you download a lot of software.

DSi also features dual cameras — one inside the hinge that faces you, and one on the outside that you can point at other things and/or people. The photo quality isn’t great — 640 x 480 — but the pics are just meant to be displayed on DSi’s screen, although you can copy them to your PC via the SD card. Two apps included on board the system let you play around with photos and AAC music files.

And if all that weren’t enough, we love the slightly bigger screens (3.25 inches vs DS Lite’s 3) and matte finish.

These new features do come with some downgrades, though. The Game Boy Advance slot is gone, which means you’re not playing older Game Boy games anymore or titles like Guitar Hero that actually need the slot. And battery life takes a pretty big wallop too — Nintendo claims it will go dead four hours faster than the DS when the screen is scaled up to full brightness.

The DSi is now available stateside, but we still have a slight gripe. The unit is currently only available in black and sky blue colors. We really dug the simple yet elegant matte white of the test unit we smuggled from Japan last Novemeber.

Want video? Check out Chris Kohler and Danny Dumas’ hands-on, on-screen review of the DSi, below. Length: 5 minutes, 26 seconds.

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