Look and Feel: Like I said before, the XL might be oversized for those with smaller hands, yet it might be the perfect thing for the big-handed. Other than that, the DSi XL is a solid piece of hardware, very similar to the original DS Lite and of course the DSi; just bigger in size. When I reviewed the DSi almost a year ago, I mentioned I missed the glossy finish of the DS Lite. While I got used to it, it's nice to see it come back. The DSi XL has a nice, shiny layer on top, while the rest of the device is still matte, allowing for a better grip.
The biggest problem with the new design is its noticeable weight, which makes it more difficult to carry around, and I'm also not a big fan of the colors available. We have the wine-colored "Burgundy" DSi XL, which is okay, but it's just not as hip as its smaller siblings. The chocolate-colored "Bronze" DSi XL is alright as well, but it says a lot about the intended audience of this handheld: older people who want to make sure they get their 15 minutes of brain training per day. Of course, nothing wrong with that - Gotta love the older generations of gamers… I want to be like that some day!
Battery Life: The DS Lite had an amazing battery life, ranging anywhere from 5 to 19 hours of play, depending upon the brightness setting. With the DSi, there was a little downgrade; it won't last more than 12-13 hours at the highest brightness setting. So, what about the DSi XL? Well, since it's XL, it has an XL battery as well, which allows for up to 17 hours of play in the brightest setting. Not bad at all, especially when you compare it to the mere four or five hours the iPhone will grant you, or the 3-6 you get with the newer PSPs.
Price: The DSi XL is priced at $200. That price is expected for a typical, recently-released gaming handheld. However, the DSi costs $180, so the extra $20 are only worth it if the XL will fit your lifestyle better. What's more, you can get a DS Lite for just $120, so if you don't plan on getting online or taking pictures with it (doesn't offer very good picture quality anyway), investing in the DS Lite instead might be just fine. The PSP 3000 currently runs at $170, and considering it offers video and audio playback, plus games with high-quality visuals, it might be a better investment for some, even with its smaller game library. Other contenders: the iPhone, if you need a new phone and have good AT&T coverage in your area (tough to imagine for me), or the iPod Touch, which doesn't have a camera or phone capabilities, but it has everything else and it's cheaper. The least expensive version of the Touch is priced at $170. Then again, the gaming experience with a simple touch screen and no stylus or buttons can't quite compare.
So, what's the conclusion? Is the DSi XL for you? Certainly, the DSi XL hasn't been made for everyone. It's tailored towards people who play it mostly at home and enjoy sharing the fun with those around them. The enlarged screens and broader viewing angle are very comfortable for the eyes, though not as much for smaller hands. If you never got a DSi but were tempted to get it and think the bigger size suits you better, you won't be disappointed. If that's the case… it's time to go big! For me… it's time to play WarioWare D.I.Y.!
CCC Site Director