February 19, 2009 The third iteration of the all conquering Nintendo DS will be released in the US on April 5. The new Nintendo DSi, which has been going gangbusters in Japan where it was launched on November 1 last year, crams even more goodies into a package about 12% thinner than the Nintendo DS Lite. Built-in features include two VGA (0.3 megapixel) cameras, SD card slot, a new DSi Sound application and a new DSi Shop application, which is similar to the Wii Shop Channel.

The two cameras are the most noticeable changes to the new unit and developers a new tool to devise games for the system that has always embraced creative gaming ideas with its touch screen and microphone. The cameras come with what Nintendo calls 10 interactive “lenses” with which users can manipulate photos taken with the device. The new DSi Sound application serves as both an interactive voice recorder and music player and allows users to experiment with their music as they listen to it. Users can alter voices or change the tempo of a song by accessing different audio filters or controlling the pitch and speed of recorded voice or music files. The unit’s microphone is located between the two screens when the device is flipped open, but the stereo headphone output lets users listen to music saved on an SD card, even with the screen shut.

While the DSi can naturally play retail games stored on Nintendo game discs, users can also access the online DSi shop using the DSiWare application to purchase and download software directly to the system where it is stored on either the unit’s 256MB internal memory or to an SD card. Software is purchased using Nintendo DSi points with values starting at 200 points. The DSi is also backwards compatible with most DS games, but the decrease in size has come at the expense of the front slot for Game Boy Advance (GBA) cartridges found on previous models. This means that not only won’t GBA games be playable on the DSi – accessories that require the GBA slot such as the DS Rumble Pak and the Guitar Hero: On Tour grip, aren’t compatible with the device either.

Colors available for the US launch of the DSi will be blue and black with an MSRP of USD$169.99. It will be released on April 5 in the US, April 2 in Australia and elsewhere during the first half of 2009.

Darren Quick

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