Nintendo’s ultra-popular DS range of handheld gaming consoles has been through several revisions and redesigns. The first available model, the Nintendo DS, was slimmed down into the advanced and improved DS Lite. Now no longer available, the DS Lite model was recently replaced by the DSi, an updated version boasting a camera, new web browser, and improved touch screen display.
Now Nintendo has released another version of the DSi, this time the jumbo-sized DSi XL. Boasting two larger displays, the DSi XL is essentially the standard DSi on steroids – a stronger, more powerful, and bigger mobile gaming platform. Alongside the larger displays is an improved viewing angle, allowing non-gamers and multi-purpose users to improve eBook readability and simplify web browsing.
Of course, the DS has never been particularly celebrated as an internet and mobile media decide, despite its simple user interface and relatively powerful level of versatility. Most modern users also own smartphones, making mobile internet browsing of limited value. However, Nintendo clearly sees potential in the DSi XL as an internet browsing and multi-purpose device, as many of the new changes appear to be aimed at non-gamer users.
For example, the enlarged screens make eBook reading relatively simple, especially when placed sideways to act as a two-page book. While readability isn’t quite on par with electronic ink readers like the Amazon Kindle, the DSi XL is an effective reading device in its own right. Internet browsing is simple and effective, outclassing the Sony PSP while still falling short of the iPhone.
For gamers, the Nintendo DSi XL offers some clear and simple improvements. The enlarged screens are ideal for detailed games and utilities, especially those that require close focus and attention. Brain Training and other text-based games benefit from the greater font size, and adventure games are certainly more playable with the larger amount of on-screen real estate.
The bottom of the DSi XL is finished in a matt-style material, allowing it to stick to playing surfaces easily. Unlike the original DS and DS Lite, Nintendo have avoided turning the DSI XL into a fingerprint machine – the console is available in two colour options, neither of which are prone to greasy fingerprints or easy scratches.
The DSi XL comes bundled with Nintendo’s own Brain Training title, making it a perfect first DS or replacement purchase for new gamers. While significantly improved on previous DS models and far more than just a once-yearly product update, the DSi XL might not be a must-buy for current DSi owners.
That said, the DSi XL is a very nice piece of equipment that offers clear value to gamers. If you’re serious about your mobile gaming and don’t mind purchasing an improved DSi just over a year after the original was released, the XL version’s value won’t be lost during your marathon Zelda sessions. However, if you’re a casual DSi user who’s contemplating the upgrade, it might be worth considering how much extra value it presents.