Nintendo DSi Handheld Games Console - Nintendo DSi

By Stuart Andrews



Our Score:


The DS Lite's screens were a huge improvement on the wishy-washy displays of the original DS, and the DSi's screens are even better, the additional size and marginally improved brightness making this the most comfortable DS for long-term use yet. There's no difference in terms of resolution - we're still talking 256 x 192 pixels - but colours seem ever-so-slightly richer and clarity is superb. It's a pleasure digging out old favourites like Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass or Professor Layton and the Mysterious Village just to appreciate how good they look, and the new screens certainly make the teeny-tiny graphics of Rockstar's phenomenal GTA: Chinatown Wars that little bit easier to make sense of.

There are other hardware changes under the bonnet. As always, Nintendo is cagey about the DSi's exact specification, but the old 67MHz ARM 9 and 33MHz ARM 7 CPUs have been upgraded to a newer ARM 9 or ARM 11 processor running at - it's believed - 266MHz. RAM, meanwhile, has gone up from 4 to 16MB. On top of this, the unit has 156MB of built-in flash memory.

Why such substantial upgrades for what is apparently an evolutionary product, not a DS sequel? Well, for the moment at least it's not for the expected reason; to make more advanced or graphically intensive games. Nintendo isn't launching the DSi with a range of DSi-specific games to show off the hardware, though there are plans to release DS-compatible games with additional DSi features. Instead, the impetus behind the hardware changes seems more to be about image and audio manipulation, Internet applications and the applications you'll be able to download from the all-new DSi store.

You'll find all these features upfront in the new DSi interface, which takes its look and feel directly from the Wii's GUI. The home page has a series of horizontally scrolling boxes, featuring a settings menu, the currently installed cartridge, the new DSi camera and sound apps, the DSi Shop, Download play and our old friend, Picto-Chat, along with a huge series of empty boxes sitting there ready to accept other applications at a later date.

The camera app will be most people's first port of call. It's very nicely done and targeted directly at the family audience, allowing you to switch between the built-in memory or the currently inserted SD card, then take images using either camera and save them into albums organised by calendar. Image quality is exactly what you'd expect; colours are mostly fine, but the low resolution is a limiting factor and noise is an issue in dark or even gloomy conditions. However, that's not really the point - it's unlikely that you'll use the DSi as your main digital camera, and most of us are more likely to use one built into our current choice of phone.

What is the point is fun. The camera app includes a range of 'lenses' which can be used to warp or colour faces or objects in the image, scrawl over the picture, super-impose sunglasses or a moustache, plus a selection of other effects. The clever bit is that you can apply these effects in real-time, both while you're capturing the image and once it's in the album after capture. It's quick, it's entertaining, and while it's nothing you couldn't do with a PC, appropriate software and a digital camera or Webcam, there's something so immediate about it on the DSi that you can't help playing around with it. Images stored on the SD card can, of course, be taken off the DSi and onto a PC or Mac.


April 4, 2009, 7:43 am

Was that a review? I felt I was just getting a list of specs and other information that I could have garnered from Nintendo's press site. How about images of the DSi actually in use with a game for instance. Or a video review, which this hardware would be perfect for.

I'd have expected a mention about build quality, differences between the ds lite screen and the new screen, and whether for instance, the image looks stretched to accomodate the larger screen, or simply that it's not a concern.


April 4, 2009, 3:44 pm

What irks me about it is the price more than anything. They could have dropped the DS Lite to 䀆 and this to 𧴰/𧴺 I would have bought it straight away. The 𧵎 just seems like a lot too much money, dearer than a PSP and an xbox 360!

Do you know if the extra processing power would make current games that have slowdown run more smoothly or is it not that simple?

Ben 3

April 4, 2009, 4:15 pm

Does the DSi support WPA for it's WiFi connection?


April 4, 2009, 5:43 pm

I like the concept of the DS. Like the Wii, Nintendo seems to have a knack for fooling everyone with a gleeful disregard for raw horsepower, and then coming out in poll position with the actual games.

But my big criticism remains the same as last time - it just looks so old fashioned. Now it's a nasty dated old grey box to replace that cheap plasticky white one. Shallow maybe, but at 150 quid a pop, looks count.


April 4, 2009, 8:19 pm

Would be interested to know how much time Stuart spent with the device prior to writing the review. Would hope a pre-release device was provided as I don't think its fair to write a review after 1 day. On the otherhand it would explain, as per darkspark88's comment, why this reads like a manual re-write rather than a review.


April 4, 2009, 10:24 pm

I haven't bought a DS in any form yet but have been seriously considering it lately. I was hoping one of two things would happen - the DSi would have been cheaper and/or it would push the price of the DS Lite down. I guess time will tell on the later...


April 5, 2009, 12:04 am

Looks? These are just fine. Conservative, but all the way trusted gray, simple buttons. Just as perfect as DS can be.


April 5, 2009, 12:31 pm

I just don't see why I should upgrade from my DS Lite to the DSi. Maybe a case can be made if I didn't already have a DS but really, the DS Lite is very good and plays more games because of the GBA slot.


April 5, 2009, 8:37 pm

To answer the questions, I've had the device for several weeks now. I actually think I did cover aspects like the differences between the DS Lite and the DSi in terms of build and screen quality (see the start of page 2), but the general picture is that the screen is a little bigger and a little better, but not the sort of thing that's worth an extra 㿞 over the DS Lite. There's certainly no sign of stretching, mostly because it's running at exactly the same resolution.

The usual approach I'd take to writing a console review is to look at the hardware and the initial batch of software, but the problem with the DSi is that the only software it's launching with is on the DSi Shop, and that this only opened on Friday (I have been checking daily since I first had the handheld in my paws). It's also important to remember that this is really early days, so the stuff on there at the moment isn't (hopefully) representative of what will be on there in a few months time. That's partly why I tried to give an overview of the device, the differences, and where it all fits in with what seems to be Nintendo's current strategy for the DS Lite, DSi and Wii. As I tried to make clear in the review, I think there is currently very little reason at all to buy a DSi over a DS Lite, but that's something that could easily change in six months time. After all, if somebody had told me five years ago that I'd be playing with a DS on a regular basis while my PSP would spend most of its time gathering dust, I'd have been gobsmacked.



April 5, 2009, 8:48 pm

Apologies. Two more points to clear up. Firstly, the DSi does include WPA support, but apparently it only works with DSi specific software, meaning it's still WEP only if you're playing existing DS games. Secondly, my understanding on the CPU is that it's actually throttled back when running DS games, so it's doubtful that you'll see much improvement in slow-running titles. Certainly, nothing I've seen makes me believe that demanding DS games will run any faster on the DSi.


April 6, 2009, 3:08 am

Ummm... the screens' resolutions are 256 × 192, not 320 × 240.

Also, another reason to keep the DS Lite over the DSi is that you can no longer run homebrew on it - a casualty of Nintendo's war on the pirates (that and the fact that the tremendous rumble pak has lost it's home - the GBA slot).


April 6, 2009, 3:20 pm

Nicely spotted, Ryan - I jotted down the wrong figure from my notes. I'll ask Hugo if he can change the review to save me further embarrassment.

Needless to say, Nintendo's hardline stance on homebrew with the DSi is a good reason not to buy it if you're into that scene. However, that's exactly the way they want it. For them, the homebrew scene and piracy are too closely linked, and I believe that they hope the DSi Shop will provide a legitimate outlet for that sort of thing.


April 6, 2009, 3:25 pm

Thanks Ryan - fixed.


April 8, 2009, 5:07 pm

abit of a rip of if u ask me.

im not paying an extra 㿞 for two 0.3 megapixel camerea haha

DSI!! WOO lol ha


September 18, 2010, 2:40 am

All the talk of specs is interesting but! The real test is the users. I've watched a child working their way around the DSlite and they attack the thing in a way I never could. Same child on a DSi and it's a different ball park, from just this observation the DSi is a far more versatile piece of kit and as Stuart says the idea is fun!

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