Nintendo announces DS Lite successor with built-in camera, the DSi (Off-the-cuff verdict: a worthless upgrade)

Nintendo_dsi.jpg

Apparently pushed into an early and perfunctory announcement by the veracity of this week's rumors, Nintendo announced this morning the newest iteration of the Nintendo DS, the DSi. And hey, what do you know: almost all of those rumors were right!

The DSI will retain its two screens and expand them, each now seventeen percent larger than the DS Lite's. Contrary to earlier reports, the DSi does not have dual touchscreens, but he DSi will gain dual cameras: one, a dinky .3MP camera on the outside of the lid, and an additional one built-in to the hinge, which will probably be used mostly for some sort of remedial Pictochat video conferencing.

Additionally, the DSi will feature an SD memory card slot, which should prove interesting once custom firmware hackers figure out how to run unsigned code off of it. Nintendo's also introducing DSiShop, a Shopping Channel for DS games and other software (DSiWare). Nintendo's using the timeless points method to set prices.

To allow for the shopping channel, the DSi will feature a built-in browser... I'm guessing Opera's. The DSi will also be usable as an MP3 player.

An unfortunate casualty of the DSi's slightly improved thinness over the DS Lite is that the GBA slot has been eliminated. That's a pity, not only because the GBA's game library has aged well, but because it means things like Metroid Prime Pinball's vibration pack or Guitar Hero: On Tour's guitar add-on won't work.

Unbelievably, the battery life is significantly worse than the DS Lite's, by up to 20%. That's unforgivable.

Japan will get the DSi in matte white and black come November 1st for around $180. There's no release date yet for the rest of the world. Nintendo's handhelds have never been region-locked though, so there should be nothing stopping you from importing one.

No word on whether or not the DSi will finally gain the ability to connect to WPA-protected wireless networks: my biggest pet peeve about the DS Lite.

Frankly, there's not a lot here to force (or even tempt) an upgrade. The improvements to the screen and thickness of the DS Lite are extremely marginal, the cameras are pretty crummy, the battery life is worse than its predecessor, and the loss of the GBA expansion slot isn't worth the slight benefit of being able to play camera-oriented games.

I'm relieved by the DSi's relative crumminess: I love my lime-green DS Lite, and would have loathed to part with it. It matches my favorite shirt.

(Numerous corrections here, thanks to my friend Brian "LOL" Ashcraft for setting me right on some key facts.)

Liveblogging the Nintendo Press Conference Liveblog [Kotaku]

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