Approximate time to read: 4 minutes
The Nintendo DSi arrived! Yes, I know it came out on Friday but, in no rush, I ordered it from Amazon (who had it had the cheapest price that I could find) with free P&P. So, I was actually quite surprised to get it today.
The box is unremarkable, but quite small. Inside is what you’d expect if you’ve previously had a Nintendo DS – the console itself, a charger, a spare stylus and some manuals. Cases, memory card, etc, will need to be purchased separately.
I ordered the black DSi which, unlike the DS equivalent, is in matt which prevents it from becoming a finger-print magnet. It does feel lighter and thinner than the original although the larger screens are also immediately obvious. None-the-less, all the buttons fall under your fingers in the way you’d expect. The DSi has a camera on the front of the case and inside. These work well and the images are better than I was expecting, considering their low resolution.
The indicator lights have changed colour and have been moved to a better position, the volume control is a rocker switch and the power button is near the bottom screen and is a push button. The speakers are big obvious holes either side of the tip screen and, of course, the bulky Gameboy Advance slot on the bottom has gone and has been replaced, on the side, with an SD card slot. No, sorry, SDHC.
When turned on it goes through a number of configuration screens – Name, Date, Time, etc. Like the Wii you can also set up some level of parental control. The screens have changed somewhat from the DS, with a black look and the fonts now appear anti-aliased. However, I do find the font display a little odd – maybe the anti-aliasing just doesn’t work on the small DSi screen. However, it has given it all a more modern feel and when the DSi occasionally returns to the old style screens (e.g. when using Download Play) the difference is quite obvious. It makes the whole thing feel more “grown up”, in preference to the “graph paper” style background of the DS.
Anyway, there is now a “proper” menu and you can return to it at anytime by pressing the power button (to power off you have to hold it down) – this also enables you to “hot swap” games by simply returning to the menu from one game, and swapping over the game cartridge. From the menu you can choose various areas to go into, including Camera, Sound, Download Play, Pictochat, System Settings and the DSi shop. The latter is like the Wii Shop in that you can buy points to use to download games, etc. There appeared to be one obvious omission from the menu but, as I guessed would be the case, it was a free download from the DSi Shop – an internet browser.
The old Wii points system has been renamed to Nintendo points so you can share the points between Wii Shop and DSi Shop. To start you off Nintendo give you a bonus 1000 points – I immediately used 500 on WarioWare: Snapped! This then appears on your menu in the shape of a wrapped present. Select it for the first time and it unwraps, revealing the game (or application).
Speaking of the internet, the Wi-fi now support WPA encryption but, it would appear, that DS games plugged into the console do not. Hmmm. I guess this means my network is going to have to stay on WEP for some time.
The battery is smaller which means the battery life suffers as a result. However, my daughter could have her DS running for days without needing a recharge so a short cropping in this for the sake of lightness doesn’t sound too bad. If the battery life is noticeably shorter, I’m sure to report back.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that the bottom touch-screen appears to be more flexible than the one on the DS Lite. Considering I had to return the DS Lite for a replacement screen about 13 months after purchase, maybe this is part of an improvement.
Before packing it away for Christmas (or whenever ((SATs results are due around the same time as my daughter’s birthday, so I suspect it may be sooner))) I tested a couple of games on it. Unfortunately I was left with Zoo Keeper and Brain Training ((all my daughter would part with)) but they worked well with no obvious issues. Zoo Keeper, in particular, was a revelation – the graphics were incredibly clear and vidid and sound was loud and clear. Certainly the screen and sound is much improved.
So I popped it in 4GB SDHC card, after first copying on a music album (which has to be in AAC format). The music player is excellent, even allowing you to play along with the music. The music through headphones is superb, and better than a lot of dedicated MP3 players.
And there you are – the Nintendo DSi. An improvement to the original DS in pretty much most ways. I’m sure my daughter will love it when she finally gets her mits on it (grubby mits too… hence buying the black version!). Although I’m pretty tempted myself…