Whether your kids (or you — I have my own) already own a Nintendo DS and are looking to update or upgrade, or you’ve never purchased a handheld console, the Nintendo DSi is a great product at a reasonable price.
The DSi features Nintendo’s stylus driven touchpad technology, though not all games make use of it, just like the original DS. However, this model of the system comes in a sleeker, slimmer package, with larger screen real estate.
Some improvements in the control buttons (namely, an on-off button instead of slider, and up-down volume control buttons, again, instead of a slider) are definitely welcome. While we never had issues with the power switch, the volume slider didn’t allow for fine enough adjustment, and often resulted in choosing one of three volume levels: Really Loud, Too Loud for the Car, and Mute.
The most significant improvement to the hardware is the inclusion of a dual-direction digital camera. The DSi user can take a picture of themself, without having to rotate the camera, or someone in front of them.
On the software side, the DSi includes a photo manipulation program, which allows the DSi user to add frames or filters to their photos, and the SD card slot makes it easy to transfer pictures to the family computer (or the local photo shop) for printing.
Similar to the original DS and DSLite, the new Nintendo DSi has a microphone to “hear” sounds, but new to the game is the option of recording sound via the voice recorder, and then manipulating it with various filters. My son’s favorite filter is combining the monotone filter with the harmony filter.
And, as long as you have iTunes, or another similar program that can convert your song library to.AAC format, the DSi can function as a simple music player — great for long car rides.
Thankfully, the DSi is also backward compatible with all of the original DS titles, so the total library of over 850 games is available to the new DSi user.
DSiWare is a new addition to the DS gaming consoles. Because the DSi is fitted with WiFi, as long as you’ve got a wireless internet connection available, you can go online and access DSiWare, the only “shopping channel” for Nintendo Dsi downloads like games and applications. There are some free apps, like FlipNote Studio, but most are purchased via Nintendo Points (same as Wii Points). 100 Nintendo points = $1, and there are plenty of fun apps and demos for under 500 points.