DSi: Few Facts and Speculation

October 7, 2008 - Late last week Nintendo revealed a redesigned Nintendo DS system called the Nintendo DSi. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Nintendo DSi is all spelled out for you in this feature. We hope this will answer most of the questions you might have, clear up some misconceptions that have surfaced since the systems debut, and offer some insight to what will be possible with the next Nintendo DS system.

Release

The Nintendo DSi will be released in Japan on November 1, 2008 for 18,900 yen. Current exchange rates put the price at around $185 US. This is a slight increase over the cost of the DS Lite in Japan, which currently retails for 16,800 yen, or about $164 US. The system will initially be available in two different colors: White and Matte Black.

It is currently unknown when the system will launch outside of Japan, and for how much – Nintendo of America has gone on the record to state that the new system won’t be released in the US until “well into 2009” due to the high demand of the current DS Lite model; Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime has stated that at the start of the company’s next fiscal quarter, April 2009, is when the company will start planning the DSi launch stateside.

Size
The Nintendo DSi system is a slight upgrade cosmetically over the current Nintendo DS Lite. In form, the DSi system is slightly thinner (18.9mm) and lighter (214g) than DS Lite, but is just a tad wider (137.0mm) and longer (74.9mm) than the current DS model. For comparison, DS Lite is 21.5mm thick, 133.0mm wide, 73.9mm long, and 218g in weight. Note: all measurements are while the DS systems are closed.The stylus for the DSi will be slightly longer than what’s currently offered with the DS Lite: 92mm on the DSi vs. 87.5mm with the DS Lite.

Features

Functionally, the DSi system features several new additions:
Camera: There are two .3 megapixel (640×480 resolution) digital cameras on the DSi system: on the internal hinge next to the microphone, and on the outside upper lid. Built into the system is software that enables users to take digital pictures from either camera in realtime: the lower screen displays high refresh video of what the camera sees, and users can snap raw images or add effects like digital overlays (mustaches, glasses). Users can even manipulate the image with the touch screen, changing key colors and stretching the feed before the image is saved.

Nintendo of Japan released videos of the camera in action, some of which indicate that the camera and software seem based around the functions of the camera packed-in with the Japan-only Face Training program. This product had the ability to track subtle movements on user’s faces in realtime.

Nintendo has been surprisingly hush on any functions of the camera outside of the built-in software abilities, refusing to go on the record regarding gameplay ideas for first and third-party games. But expect Nintendo DS games to incorporate the ability to take photos and incorporate them in the overall experience. 

It is also expected that the camera could be used for Wii projects as well. Pictures taken with the DSi cameras can be transferred to the Wii Photo Channel, which can then be sent to other Wii systems over the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Since the DS and Wii can connect wirelessly, it isn’t too out there to expect that the DSi camera will provide a solution for Wii video transmission and gameplay that’s similar to what Microsoft does with the Xbox Vision Camera and Sony does with the EyeToy peripheral. As one anonymous developer mentioned to us, “isn’t it interesting that the DSi camera resolution is exactly the same as the standard Wii resolution?” 

Built-in Software: The interface to load games on the Nintendo DSi will change. It will now feature a streamlined, touch screen menu where users can access the DS slot, the SD card slot, as well as boot up the photo and sound editor.

The Nintendo DSi will have the ability to play back sound files in AAC format. MP3 files will not be compatible as-is – users will have to convert them to the AAC format in order for the Nintendo DSi to play them.


With the Sound Editor, users will be able to scroll through the audio file using the touch screen, as well as adjust the speed and pitch of the audio playback. Also built into the Nintendo DSi is a new, enhanced version of the Opera browser that works much more quickly than the one that was released for the Nintendo DS nearly two years ago. Because the original DS Browser required an external memory pack and the DSi version of the browser does not, it is expected that the DSi has much more on-board RAM than the current model does. And since the browser operates much more quickly than the one made for the DS and DSLite, this indicates that the DSi features more processing power than the current DS model.
Though Nintendo has not announced the feature, it is expected that the internal software in the Nintendo DSi will have the ability to be regularly updated, similar to the way Nintendo Wii systems receive periodic updates to its software and firmware.

Internal Memory: Like the Nintendo Wii, the Nintendo DSi system will have flash memory built into the device to store photos, sound files, and programs written specifically for the handheld. Nintendo has currently not announced how much internal storage the system will have.

SD Card Slot: Also like the Wii, the DSi unit features a slot for optional SD cards. This slot is on the right side of the DSi system. SD Cards give the system the ability to store more than what’s built into the system: current SD cards are 8 gigabytes in size and higher, and the costs of these cards are coming down every month. 

Nintendo has revealed that the SD cards give the Nintendo DSi the ability to transfer photos to and from the Photo Channel on the Wii. With the ability to download programs directly to SD card coming to the Wii in March 2009, it’s expected that the Nintendo DS will share this ability either out of the box on November 1st, or at the very least, when the Wii gets this function next year.

Improved Network Capabilities: The Nintendo DSi will have improved Wi-Fi features to offer new capabilities as well as to ensure connectivity with previous Nintendo DS systems. 

When the Nintendo DSi is released, Nintendo will roll out its new Nintendo Download Stations that feature a new interface. Older Nintendo DS and DS Lite systems will have to download the software first before enjoying the new features; the DSi system will have this software built-in, so users of the new system will be able to jump right into the Download Station experience. The Download Stations will feature downloadable demos as well as site-specific functions – Nintendo has already rolled out the ability to order food and view instant replays using DS systems at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. More are planned.
Currently unknown is if the DSi offers a change in wireless security: Nintendo DS and DS Lite systems are only compatible with WEP security; with the industry-wide move to stronger WPA security, it’s hoped that the DSi will support this tighter encryption.
The current Wii Points model will change to become Nintendo Points. When you buy a Nintendo Points card, currently 100 points = 1 US dollar, entering the card’s code into a DSi will turn them into DS Points.

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