|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Opera Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 4, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: N/A||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
July 3, 2007 - I've used the web browser built into the PSP's firmware and I've been very pleased with the experience thus far. Even though it can be somewhat slow, it allows me to do almost anything I'd want to do when surfing the Internet. When I heard an Internet browser was going to be released for the Nintendo DS sometime in the near future, I though it was a great idea and I was truly excited about the features a touch screen could offer when coupled with a good piece of web-browsing software. As soon as it came out I went and bought it.
The Nintendo DS browser has two pieces of hardware: one is the standard cartridge that goes into the DS's game slot; the other one is a cartridge of the size and shape of the Game Boy Advance games. Well, in the case of the DS Lite version, which is the one I tried, the cartridge is smaller and it fits snugly and just right in the GBA slot.
Many of you will think: why would you need another portable Internet browser if you already have the Sony PSP? Well, my answer is simply because I love my DS lite. It's my favorite portable gaming system and I almost don't go anywhere without it! So I figured if I could add the Internet capabilities to it, I'd be set when I'm on-the-go and want to check my e-mail, movie times, or even have a quick conversation on the instant messenger.
Having used the Opera Browser on the Wii for quite sometime I probably built up my expectations too high. I didn't realize a piece of hardware like the DS doesn't quite have the capabilities it needs to deliver a truly rewarding Internet browsing experience. Needless to say, I'm dissatisfied with my purchase and I'm disappointed with the way this software was developed. At the $35 price tag it has, one is expecting much more.
Let's talk about the good things it has to offer: websites are displayed within the two DS screens, providing a good overall view of the web pages you visit, and also allowing you to switch between SSR mode, where you see the sites displayed vertically, in a simplified manner, and Overview mode, where you see the overall picture on the bottom screen and navigate by dragging a rectangle throughout the screen. Overview mode shows websites the way you would see them on a computer. What is within that rectangle is shown on the screen above, zoomed in for easy viewing. Holding the left shoulder button will allow you to turn on Direct Event Mode, where you point and click the links, while you can still drag the rectangle box around. The navigation bar located at the bottom provides all the navigation buttons you would need: back button, forward button, refresh, history, the one for entering the web address, a search button to look for words within a page, the browser options button, help, view mode, pictures enabled / disabled, zoom, and the one for swapping the screens where the content is displayed. The icons are easy to understand right away, you wouldn't even need to read the instructions to start using the browser.
What are the major let downs? Nintendo DS Browser doesn't support Flash, which means half of the websites you're going to try and see won't display the way they would on your computer, will be missing elements, and in many occasions they might even be missing part or all of their functionality. Java applications aren't supported either. I understand that this would entail a complicated process for the DS that it just can't handle. Most websites don't carry Java applications anyway, so you probably wouldn't notice this one. But don't expect to use your DS for day trading! It's just not going to happen...
Web surfing has turned for most of us into an instant-gratification experience. You click somewhere and you get results right away. Since I gave up my dial-up connection for high-speed Internet my expectations have changed; and so have the expectations of most Internet users, who are already enjoying broadband Internet at home or at work. Your DS will connect to any wireless connection available, that's true; and most likely that connection will provide high-speed Internet. But will you be able to surf the web at high-speeds? That's where the trick is. Pages take between 30 seconds and one minute to load, and that's when they load correctly. You really have to have some patience if you want to do something with the DS browser Not to mention how long it will take you to enter text; of course this is going to be slow no matter what handheld you're using. At least the DS browser also offers text recognition, so you can draw letters, one by one, and it will recognize what you wrote and type it for you. I don't know if the alternative of tapping each letter on the on-screen keyboard is faster or not, but text recognition is a neat feature that actually works. Well it does most of the time, as long as your hand writing is clear.