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Nintendo DSi, the new DS iteration. Larger screens, camera, SD slot, DLC focus.
Nintendo has just fired the latest salvo in the portable gaming wars.
Although the company's Nintendo DS Lite is still selling like gangbusters, even setting sales records, Nintendo said at a press conference Thursday that it will not wait for its popularity to wane. The Kyoto company will introduce a new model of its two-screened handheld, called Nintendo DSi, this November in Japan.
It's got bigger screens. It comes equipped with a small camera to take pictures. It can play music files. It can store all that content on an SD memory card. But most importantly, it's fully equipped for the digital distribution revolution. Just as Nintendo sells Wii games through its own direct-download store, so too will it begin selling Nintendo DS titles directly to consumers.
Some downloadable DSi software will be free, and some will be priced from $2 to $10, Nintendo said. The company is pursuing a gung-ho strategy to get DSi purchasers online with their handhelds and buying games -- it said it would give a free 1000 Nintendo Points (about $10 in online currency) to each DSi owner through the spring of 2010.
One of the first free applications that users can download from the DSi Shop is a web browser.
What the DSi is not is a brand-new gaming platform. It's a Nintendo DS with significant feature upgrades. While Nintendo has said that it will release software that is only playable on the DSi, it mostly just plays the same games as the current DS Lite.
So if you're not into the upgrades, you don't need to buy one.
There are actually two cameras on the device, one that faces outward (shown right) and one that faces inward, like a MacBook's camera. Nintendo says that the images the cameras snap are 300,000 pixels large, which works out to 640X480 resolution.
DSi can also play back audio, and you can alter the pitch and playback speed of the sound files you're playing.
An SD card slot sits on the right side of the machine, storing all the camera photos, music files, and games that you've added on to the system.
The DSi brings Nintendo's product offering closer to what rival Sony has with its PSP portable system, which has an optional camera attachment, robust media playback functionality, and can download games to Memory Stick media.
What it lacks is a Game Boy Advance game slot. So if you still want to play your old Pokemon games, you'll want to stick with the current DS Lite.
DSi will cost more than the DS Lite -- 18,900 yen, or about $185 -- and debut in Japan on November 1. Nintendo will release it outside Japan in 2009.