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The is a handheld game console produced by Nintendo, and the third iteration of the Nintendo DS handheld gaming console, following the Nintendo DS Lite. As a seventh-generation console, the DSi primarily shares the handheld gaming market with Sony's PlayStation Portable. The handheld has launched in Japan, Australasia (Oceania), Europe, and North America between 2008 and 2009.

Most of the DS Lite's attributes are retained with fewer aesthetic changes made compared to the first two iterations. A major feature that distinguishes the Nintendo DSi is its two interactive digital cameras that can be both incorporated into gameplay and used as a standalone camera feature. The DSi also includes connectivity with an online store (Nintendo DSi Shop) as well as internal and external storage of content. A new larger model with bigger screens is called the Nintendo DSi LL in Japan and Nintendo DSi XL in Europe and North America. The handheld was released in Japan on November 21, 2009 and will be released in Europe and North America in the first quarter of 2010.

Nintendo began development in late 2006, and unveiled the console on October 2, 2008, during a Nintendo Conference in Tokyo. After the success of its predecessor, the goal of this handheld is to narrow the gap between DS units owned per household and actual DS users per household. The features Nintendo integrated into this DS attempt to create a more personalized experience to appeal to each individual of a household.

History

The Nintendo DSi was conceived at the end of 2006, the same time the Wii was released. It is the third iteration of the Nintendo DS handheld, which itself had a relatively short development period. Since the Nintendo DS Lite's launch, yearly sales numbers of the console have been higher than the competition worldwide. At a Nintendo Conference in October 2008, Nintendo announced release information for Japan of the third DS iteration, including its date, and price due to a loss of momentum of DS Lite sales. There was a lessened urgency to release the new console elsewhere due to higher market demand for the Nintendo DS Lite.

Masato Kuwahara from Nintendo's Engineering Department began development on the DSi project following instructions from his supervisor. While working on the DSi, Kuwahara reported that the team had difficulties in the marketing of the handheld, considering it was based on, and meant as a supplement to, previously existing hardware. "We have to be able to sell the console on its own. It also has to be able to meld into the already-existing DS market." The idea for the cameras began early on; Nintendo president and Chief Executive Officer Satoru Iwata revealed that the touchscreen represented its sense of touch, the microphone input was its "ears," and a coworker suggested how the device should have "eyes." Yui Ehara, the designer of the DSi's casing, advocated a change to the speaker apertures because of the redundancy of the design's circular perforations. This alteration signalled also a clearer distinction between the DSi and its predecessors. Ehara wanted to keep the unit "neat" and "simple", but also include new features.

The original concept of the DSi involved the console having two DS game card slots due to in-house demand and fan requests. This led the device to be approximately thicker than the final version. In regards to the in-company unveiling in October 2007, Kuwahara stated that "the response wasn’t that great, and, ... we’d sort of been expecting that." This additional slot was removed to make the final product slimmer which was shown to the public at a 2008 Nintendo Conference in Tokyo.

Launch

The console was first released in Japan on November 1, 2008, in matte black and matte white, with the same colors available for its launch in Australia and New Zealand on April 2, 2009, and in Europe on the following day for 149.99 Pound sterling. The unit was released in the United States and Canada on April 5, 2009 alongside the game Rhythm Heaven. It is the first in its product family to be available in multiple colors at launch for North America—matte black and matte blue, for US$169.99. Nintendo DSi's first two days on the United Kingdommarker market totaled 92,000 sales of the handheld. According to GfK/Chart-Track data, the console's UK region launch had the fourth fastest-selling opening weekend, higher than previous records set by its predecessors.

Demographic and sales

Sales figures]]

(as of September 30, 2009)
Region Units shipped First available
Japan 3.73 million November 1, 2008
Americas 3.27 million April 5, 2009
Other regions 3.17 million April 2009
Total 10.17 million


Nintendo launched the Nintendo DS in 2004 to target a wider demographic than that of its Game Boy line. After the success of its predecessor, the concept of DSi involved focusing on making the device "My DS"—one console per person instead of its predecessors which were shared among multiple members of a household. Satoru Iwata, president and CEO of Nintendo, mentioned game machines are shared by multiple members within a household. In order to narrow the gap between DS's owned per household and actual DS users per household, the company will attempt to make the DS a more personalized experience to appeal to each family member of a household. Iwata stated the DSi is meant to be the first camera for children and a means of social networking for older people.

The lower-case "i" character in DSi is symbolic of its two cameras representing an "eye" and also the subject "I" and its personal individuality. As opposed to the two lower-case "i" characters in Wii representing players gathering together, Nintendo defines DSi as a more personal experience for the "individual" gamer. A Nintendo representative said the company "hope[s] that the Nintendo DSi becomes more than a game system and more of a personal tool to enrich our daily lives."

Shortly after the console was unveiled, Iwata insisted in response to some media reports that the added capabilities of this DS are not meant to compete against mobile phones, the iPod or the PSP. By September 30, 2009, all three Nintendo DS iterations had shipped 113.48 million units combined worldwide.

Hardware

The DSi when closed, showing its second camera


The Nintendo DSi has a similar appearance to the Nintendo DS Lite, the second DS iteration. The console has two larger TFT-LCD screens at , instead of the former , capable of displaying 260,000 colors. The lower display of the console is overlaid with a touchscreen, designed to accept input from the included stylus or a curved plastic tab attached to the optional wrist strap. Also on the front are the four face buttons, the directional pad, and the Start, Select, and Power buttons. The back of the DSi features the two shoulder buttons, a slot for game cards and a power cable input underneath the hinge. The DSi is 74.9 mm tall × 137 mm broad × 18.9-mm wide (when closed) which is about 12% narrower (2.6 mm) than the Nintendo DS Lite, but slightly broader.

The handheld has two VGA (0.3-megapixel) digital cameras: one on the internal hinge pointed towards the user and the other in the outer shell. In addition to the cameras, the DSi has an SD card slot behind the cover on the right-side of the handheld. The power switch has been replaced with a power button, such as the original DS had, but it provides extra functions and is located next to the bottom-left side of the touchscreen. Volume and brightness are adjustable on the left-side of the handheld. The DSi has five brightness settings compared to the DS Lite's four, however battery life is reduced on all brightness levels; such as 9–14 hours on the lowest brightness setting compared to the 15–19 hours of its predecessor. The unit uses an 840 mAh internal rechargeable battery compared to 1000 mAh for the DS Lite, and it may be replaced by the user at the end of its useful life of approximately 500 charge cycles.

The DSi has a matte surface to prevent fingerprints from appearing, as opposed to the more glossy finish of the DS Lite. The DSi is currently available in seven colors; only the matte black and white models are available in all regions. The lime green color is only available in Japan, and pink is available in Japan, North America, and Australasia. The metallic blue color is available in Australasia, Japan, and Europe. European countries also received blue and red on October 23, 2009. There are numerous special edition models available, including the Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time models.

Technical specifications



Nintendo has released few technical details regarding the DSi system. The company has modified some of the DSi's hardware (as compared to the DS Lite), such as the main central processing unit (CPU) and the random-access memory (RAM). Also, the CPU was relocated, and the battery housing was raised to curtail unused space. The DSi features louder and better sound quality due to the inclusion of Codec IC, which can amplify sound and convert digital signals into analog signals. The IC responsible for sound output was upgraded. Nintendo has stated that, to improve portability without sacrificing durability, the front slot for Game Boy Advance (GBA) cartridges had to be removed. As a result, the unit has lost its backward compatibility with GBA Game Paks and its compatibility with accessories that require the GBA slot, such as the Nintendo DS Rumble Pak and the Guitar Hero: On Tour series guitar grip, which is required to play those games.

  • CPU: The DSi has two ARM architecture CPUs; ARM9 and ARM7. The main CPU is clocked at 133 MHz.
  • RAM: 16 MB of RAM (four times as much as previous models)
  • Storage: 256 MB of internal flash memory with an SD card (up to 2 GB) and SDHC card (up to 32 GB) expansion slot
  • Wireless: 802.11b/g internal wireless connectivity


DSi LL/XL

A larger model with bigger screens called the Nintendo DSi LL in Japan and Nintendo DSi XL in North America and Europe was announced on October 29, 2009. This model is the fourth version of the Nintendo DS handheld gaming console and the first "size variation" of its product family. Satoru Iwata mentioned portable game consoles have focused on portability and single-player aspects due to cost restraints, which limited screen size. The Nintendo DSi XL features larger screens to improve visibility for other persons viewing it at an angle to let them let be more involved. Nintendo stated the unit offers "an improved view angle on the screens" making it the first "portable system that can be enjoyed with people surrounding the gamer." Iwata argued this introduces a new method of playing portable video games where those "surrounding the game player can also join in one way or the other to the gameplay." As opposed to Nintendo's concept for the original DSi, Iwata suggest buyers finding a "steady place on a table in the living room" for the DSi XL to be shared by multiple members of a household.

The DSi XL has a larger overall body size than the DS Lite being 91.4 mm tall × 161 mm broad × 21.2 mm wide and features two 4.2-inch screens. It has improved battery life over the DSi on all brightness levels; such as 13–17 hours on the lowest brightness setting. It is bundled with two longer styli, one of which is a thicker rounded pen-like stylus.

The console launched in Japan on November 21, 2009, in dark brown, wine red, and natural white. The unit will be released in North America and Europe during the first quarter of 2010. It is sold at a higher price than the original DSi in Japan and is expected to be sold at a higher price in Europe. In Japan, it is bundled with pre-installed software; the DSi Browser, a dictionary program, and three DSiWare titles.

Features

As part of its advanced multimedia capabilities, an SD card can be used for external storage of pictures, downloaded software and AAC audio. The in-built audio player feature called "Nintendo DSi Sound" serves as a voice recorder and music player for AAC audio and some of its filename extensions (.mp4, .m4a, .3GP), but does not support MP3s. This player allows users to adjust pitch, playback and add filters while audio is playing. Audio can also be listened to while the device is closed. The audio player allows users to save and modify up to eighteen ten-second sound clips from voice recordings (recorded via the internal microphone) and then apply them to songs. Another built-in feature is the "Nintendo DSi Camera" software that lets users modify photos (taken via the built-in camera) with ten options called "lenses." Live feeds from the DSi camera, photos taken from it, and pictures imported from an SD card can also be manipulated. Photos taken using the DSi can be synchronized to the Wii's Photo Channel and to the social networking website Facebook.

The Nintendo DSi console is able to connect to the Internet through its built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi or through a Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector, with both methods allowing players to access the established Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service. Nintendo has reported that the DSi uses region locking for DSi-specific software, since the handheld provides Internet services tailored individually for each region, and uses rating-based parental controls which differ by country. However, elements such as Internet browsing, photo sharing, and Nintendo DS cartridge software are region-free. The DSi supports wireless encryption by WEP, WPA (AES/TKIP), and WPA2 (AES/TKIP), but WPA and WPA2 are only available with DS games built with WPA and WPA2 since the original DS and the DS Lite did not support this type of encryption for wireless networks.

Menu

The menu interface of the DSi console consists of icons representing the system's applications (in a similar layout to the Wii's menu). There are seven primary icons: card software, Nintendo DSi Camera, Nintendo DSi Sound, Nintendo DSi Shop, DS Download Play, PictoChat and system settings. Additional applications are available for download from the DSi Shop. Separate icons are graphically displayed in a grid and are navigated using a stylus or the D-pad. It is possible to change the arrangement by dragging and dropping the icons using the same input methods. The console's power button serves as a soft reset to return to the main menu for DS software. For DSi software, Kentaro Mita, who is responsible for relaying ideas from the company to the production team, commented that "you can move around, return to the menu, or play a different game, without shutting down the power every time." Once at the main menu, DS cards can be hot swap.

Software library

With a few exceptions, such as the Guitar Hero: On Tour series, all existing DS games are compatible with the DSi. Nintendo DSi enhanced game cards can operate on previous console versions and also offer exclusive features for the DSi. Nintendo DSi exclusive games are not compatible with earlier DS systems since they use the DSi's new features. The first DSi exclusive retail game is System Flaw, which was released in North America on October 27, 2009 and uses the DSi's camera. Similar to the Wii console, the DSi has upgradable firmware. All existing homebrew flash cards for the Nintendo DS and DS Lite are incompatible with the DSi, but cards that can run DS software on a DSi are now being produced.

The Nintendo DSi is able to connect to an online store called the DSi Shop. Using a Nintendo Points Prepaid Card (previously known as Wii Points Prepaid Card), users are able to download DSiWare games and applications to the internal memory of the DSi system. The applications are either free, or cost 200, 500, or 800+ (marked with a "Premium" tag) points which equals $2, $5, or $8+. The DSi Shop was launched with the DSi Browser, a free web browser co-developed by Opera Software and Nintendo. A DSiWare trial campaign offers 1,000 Points to each DSi that accesses its shop application. This trial expiration varies by region. Nintendo said it has no current plans to offer Game Boy games through the DSi Shop.

Reception

The Nintendo DSi received mixed to positive reviews soon after its launch. Websites and reviewers disagreed about whether the upgrade from the DS Lite was worthwhile. CNET.com's Jeff Bakalar rated it 3.5/5, saying that "While not all previous DS owners should upgrade, the DSi is an ambitious and solidly designed portable gaming system." Cliff Edwards of BusinessWeek rated it 4.5/5, saying that the DSi is "well worth the money," and "Despite some drawbacks, the new handheld game console incorporates significant improvements over its predecessor and is a lot of fun." General opinion showed disappointment with the absence of the GBA slot, although it was considered a reasonable tradeoff for downloadable content and accessibility to an SD card that will differ based on user preference. Despite Nintendo's rationale for removal of this slot, Bakalar commented, "We'd gladly give up the 4 millimeters to be able to play any Game Boy Advance game."

Most reviewers cited similar strengths and weaknesses of the cameras. The cameras were criticized for their quality, especially for having lower resolution than that of mobile phones. The DSi's photo-editing software was seen as entertaining by critics, particularly the facial recognition technology, although some considered it a gimmick. Craig Harris and Scott Lowe of IGN thought the two cameras were practically useless "outside of the context of taking silly pictures of yourself and others" and pointing out that "taking photos in dim environments is practically impossible, and if you do manage to take a photo where the subject matter isn't a shapeless black blob, the colors take on a bluish or greenish tinge." The possible integration of the cameras into gameplay is seen as the introduction of untapped potential for video game developers by BusinessWeek, while Bit-tech s Joe Martin called it unlikely to be adopted by many developers since it is "a gimmick that would alienate all the DS Lite owners out there."

Since this DS iteration adds new features while preserving a similar overall design and portability to its predecessor, many critics recommended the DSi to new consumers of its product family. Pete Metzger of the Los Angeles Times thought "the DSi feels more like version 2.5 than a total reboot" like its predecessor, but "the improvements are worthwhile additions to an already great product." PC World's Darren Gladstone gave the handheld a 75/100, replying that Nintendo "puts in smart nips and tucks to its already-svelte handheld while adding a raft of useful multimedia features." In regard to hardware, IGN said "there are evolutionary redesigns and there are revolutionary redesigns, and the DSi would most readily be identified as the former." Shortly after the DSi's unveiling, Goldman Sachs analyst Matthew J. Fassler touched on the subject of the future of video game distribution calling its store a "tangible early threat" to big-box stores and retailers. IGN's Craig Harris felt the Nintendo DSi launched with insufficient exclusive software to help differentiate the console from its predecessors; both the online store and cartridge-based games to complement its new hardware were considered to be lacking. Bit-tech concluded that the online store and cameras are insufficient justifications to spend extra money to purchase a DSi near launch, but summed up the general opinion by noting the potential of future quality software.

ComputerAndVideoGames.com's Mike Jackson gave the DSi XL hardware an 8.0/10, praising the bigger screens for their improved clarity and allowing better accuracy on certain games. Jackson pointed out the bigger screens made its unchanged resolution slightly more blockier, but would be probably less noticeable for the older demographic.

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