Posted by: peanutmaster | April 3, 2009

DSi


The Dsi has been released here in Europe! Yeah, I know the lucky Japanese got it waaay back in November 2008… But dont worry, all you Americans out there only have to wait 2 more days! Anyways, here a little tour of the Dsi:

The Nintendo DSi is the third iteration of the Nintendo DS handheld developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It was released in Japan on November 1, 2008 and Australia on April 2, 2009, was released in Europe today and North America on April 5, 2009.

The handheld was first announced during the Nintendo Conference on October 2, 2008 in Tokyo, Japan. The character “i” in DSi is symbolic of its two cameras representing an “eye”. The console’s official slogan is “What will you and i do?”. But is the Dsi needed? Does it do the amazing and better the Ds and Ds lite?

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The Nintendo DSi was conceived at the end of 2006, as the Wii began to ship. Masato Kuwahara from the Engineering Department began development on the DSi project per instructions from his supervisor. It is the third iteration of the Nintendo DS handheld whose development was on a short schedule. One of the first major features added to the DSi that separated the handheld from its past iterations were the two cameras. When working on the DSi, Masato Kuwahara said one of the difficulties involved how to market the handheld, since it was based on and meant as a supplement to previously existing hardware. “We have to be able to sell the console on its own. It also has to be able to meld into the already-existing DS market.”

The original concept of the DSi consisted of the device to have two slots for DS games due to demand in-house and by fan requests. This caused the device to be approximately 3 mm thicker than the final version. The designs were unveiled within the company in October 2007. Kuwahara said “The response wasn’t that great, and, to tell the truth, we’d sort of been expecting that”. This led to the removal of the extra slot to make the final product slimmer.

The Nintendo DSi is about 12% thinner (2.6 mm) than the Nintendo DS Lite, but slightly longer. The new handheld has two VGA (0.3 megapixel) digital cameras; one on the internal hinge pointed towards the user and the second one in the outer shell. It also has larger screens (3.25 inches, instead of the previous 3 inches) and improved speakers. Yui Ehara, the designer of DSi’s outer shell, wanted to keep the unit “neat” and “simple” with its new features. The power switch has been replaced with a power button,  now located next to the bottom left side of the touchscreen. For DS software its power button also serves as a soft reset to return to the main menu. While for DSi software, Kentaro Mita who is responsible for relaying ideas from the company to the team commented “you can move around, return to the menu, or play a different game, without shutting down the power every time”. Once at the main menu, DS cards can be hotswapped. The DSi has a matte surface to prevent fingerprints from showing up, as opposed to the glossier finish the DS Lite has. The speaker apertures were altered due to the redundancy of circular perforations on its shell and since the change can be noticeable while keeping the unit neat. Ehara pushed for this alteration to also make consumers see more of a distinction between the DSi and its predecessors. Excluding North America, Nintendo will release the handheld in both matte black and matte white. Japan received pink, lime green and metallic blue colors on March 20, 2009.

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The DSi has five brightness settings compared to the DS Lite’s four; however, battery life is reduced to 9–14 hours on the lowest brightness setting compared to the 15–19 hours of its predecessor. The unit uses a 840mAh battery compared to 1000mAh for the DS Lite.

Nintendo stated that to improve portability without sacrificing durability, the front slot for Game Boy Advance (GBA) cartridges has been removed. As a result, the unit has lost its backward compatibility with GBA Game Paks and its compatibility with accessories that require the GBA slot, such as the Nintendo DS Rumble Pak, as well as the Guitar Hero: On Tour and Guitar Hero: On Tour Decades grip, which is required to play those games.

An SD card slot hides behind the cover on the right-side of the handheld. The SD card can be used for external storage of pictures, downloaded software and to play AAC audio. The built-in audio player feature called “Nintendo DSi Sound” serves as a voice recorder and music player of AAC audio, but does not support MP3s. This player lets users adjust pitch, playback and add filters when the aforementioned audio is playing. Audio can also be listened to while the device is closed. The audio player lets users save and modify up to eighteen ten-second sound clips from voice recordings done via DSi’s internal microphone then apply them to songs. Another built-in software is called “Nintendo DSi Camera” that lets users modify photos with several options. Live feeds from the DSi camera, photos taken from it and pictures imported from an SD card can be manipulated. Photos taken using the DSi can be synced to the Wii’s Photo Channel.

Nintendo is planning to release “enhanced game cards” that can operate on the DSi and previous console versions, and will also offer exclusive features for the DSi. Similar to its competitor, the PlayStation Portable, and Nintendo’s own Wii console, the DSi has upgradable firmware; a first for a Nintendo handheld system. All existing homebrew flash cards for the Nintendo DS and DS Lite are incompatible with the DSi, but cards that can run DS software on a DSi are now being attempted – the first one was created by Acekard.

The Nintendo DSi is able to connect to an online store similar to the Wii Shop Channel, called the DSi Shop. Here, using Nintendo Points (previously known as Wii Points), users will be able to download DSiWare games and applications to the internal memory or the SD card of the user’s DSi system. Each DSi that accesses the DSi Shop prior to March 2010 will receive 1,000 Nintendo Points. The applications will either be free, or cost 200, 500, or 800+ (marked with a ‘Premium’ tag) Nintendo Points.

The DSi Shop was launched with the DSi Browser, a web browser available for free download.

But, with all this, is the Dsi going to be better than the Ds? From the looks of it, despite losing the  Gameboy Slot, and all the games that use it (Guitar Hero: On Tour…), I believe that the Dsi is going to be a hit. But there’s only one way to really find out; get one for yourself. But be quick; they’re selling out fast!

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