|System: DSi||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nintendo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 5, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: N/A||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: N/A||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Of course, this is no Photoshop, but all these photo features are fun at the very least. You'll have a laugh or two with your friends, even if it all seems a bit gimmicky. Who doesn't enjoy these things once in a while? You can even share pix with your friends wirelessly as long as they're next to you. Just one little piece of advice: careful with the pictures you take, as random pictures saved in your memory will load on the top screen every time you turn the system on!
The sound channel is not as fun as the photo channel. You can record your own sounds (up to 18 of them), tweak them, add sounds effects and filters, change the pitch, etc. However, it's far from being a full-on mixing studio that you could enjoy for hours on end. Luckily, you can also listen to music in this channel. The DSi supports AAC formats such as .m4p, the music format used by iTunes devices and a few others. If you've imported your own songs into iTunes and they were converted into this format, you'll be good to go, but if your music library is like mine, mostly MP3s, then you're out of luck. Granted, you can convert your songs in order to play them on the DSi, but it seems more trouble than it's worth, especially if you already own a nice portable music player. I really wish MP3 support had been added, and hopefully they will on a future system update. *hint, Nintendo, hint*
So, how can the DSi do so many things? Did Nintendo include a decent-sized internal memory? Well they didn't - it's just 256 MB. But it does support high-capacity SD cards, which means you will have plenty of storage at your fingertips for your funky photos and songs. There seems to be enough storage in the internal memory for downloadable titles so far, but we'll see what happens in a few months. As of now, I'm not able to launch my DSiWare games from the SD card, but at least you can store them in it if you start running out of space. Hopefully in the future they'll have a similar solution to the Wii's 4.0 menu, which allows you to launch your purchased games right from the SD card (by copying them temporarily into the system's memory).
As far as processing power (133Mhz), it isn't a whole lot, but it's plenty for DS games. Heck, my first computer had that kind of power and I was able to do plenty of things with it! In addition, the DSi has 16 MB of RAM, which is four times more than the previous models. This usually helps with multitasking on computers, but since you'll only run one app at a time on the DSi, you won't even notice. In any case, it'll make sure games are played without any hiccups and applications run smoothly.
All these upgrades don't come without a cost, but overall it's a fair trade. The battery doesn't last as long (9-14 hours on the lowest brightness setting, versus 15-19 hours on the DS Lite). The reason is it has a smaller battery, but using the camera too much also affects its power consumption. The other trade-off is the backwards compatibility with the GameBoy Advance. GBA games can no longer be played, as this device doesn't include the GBA slot. Happily, I still have my old GBA SP around, and I'm not getting rid of my DS Lite, so if I ever feel the urge to play one of the old titles, I'll be just fine. The only thing is Guitar Hero: On Tour players will have to give it up if they upgrade to a DSi.
To conclude, here's a summary:
The DSi has better sound, bigger screens, a reset function, two cameras and fun photo-editing software, audio player, voice recorder (small clips), Internet browser, and downloadable games via the DSiWare shop. It's also compatible with DS games and will have future DSi-only releases. On the other hand, DSi-only games will be region-locked, it doesn't play GBA games, and the battery lasts a little less overall.
Hopefully this will help you decide if you're ready to upgrade or buy. I'd say, if you are like me and love gadgets, there's plenty to love in this new gaming handheld. However, if you're in love with your Nintendo DS Lite and aren't too enticed by the new features, you should probably just hold off for now and see what games are released for the DSi in the future. Previous DS owners out there that never upgraded to the DS Lite, here's your chance for a worthy upgrade! And those who still don't own a DS, what are you waiting for? There are many cool games out there, both hardcore and casual, that you should definitely try out! Look for our review of DSiWare titles in the coming weeks here at CheatCC.
CCC Site Director