Nintendo DS Lite Review

Hardware

The Nintendo DS Lite is an improved version of the original DS, which is a lot slimmer, brighter and more lightweight than the original. One of the biggest improvements with the DS Lite is the brighter screen – Colours are more vivid on the Lite, and graphics are sharper. You can tone down the brightness if you want to save on battery life (there are four brightness settings).

Also the mic has been relocated from the bottom of the device to the middle, and the power button is now on the side instead of above the D-pad. The buttons and D-pad are slightly more raised than on the older DS, which makes up for their somewhat smaller size. The stylus is 1 cm longer and 2 mm thicker than the stylus of the original Nintendo DS.

At 5.2 by 2.9 by 0.9 inches, the DS Lite is a lot easier to hold and slip into a bag or pocket – compared to the original DS, which was more on the bulky side at 5.9 by 3.3 by 1.1 inches (with the case closed.)

The DS Lite has a glossy finish on the outside, which looks nice and shiny when it’s new, but can easily attract lots of finger prints on the surface. Also scratches are more visible too, which is rather annoying if you’re someone, like me, that hates seeing scratches on things. I wish Nintendo opted to use a Matte finish, or even better, give you the option to choose between a gloss or matte finish.

Ergonomics

The Nintendo DS Lite feels lighter to hold in your hands, compared to the original DS, but does feel rather cramped. Every time I pick the thing up, my fingers are overlapping and hugging each other and the opposite sides of the system. It’s not so bad if you’re holding it with one hand, and using the other to control the stylus on the touch screen.

Battery Life

The DS Lite has a rechargeable Lithium ion battery inside, delivering from 15 to 19 hours of play on a three-hour charge. There’s also a power-saving sleep mode, where you can shut the lid and leave it on standby. This is rather useful feature, if you want to carry on from where you left off, and don’t want to worry about powering the handheld down and starting over again. An AC adapter is included in the box, but uses a different connector than the original Nintendo DS.

Software

 

The DS Lite has an impressive games library of over 1837 DS titles to choose from (according to Nintendo of America) and is also compatible with Game Boy Advance games.

There’s a built in application called Pictochat, which enables you to chat with other DS users nearby. On the bottom screen, there’s a keyboard and a blank space above it. You can either type using the keyboard, or draw on the blank screen using the stylus. Messages can be seen and read at the top. I can remember using Pictochat a lot when I was younger, since it was a fun and easy way of talking to your friends, who also owned a DS. It didn’t require Wi-Fi or mobile data, so you could use it on the go, or in my case – on the bus on the way to school!

The Nintendo DS Network allows multiple users to link up and play together within an impressive, integrated network.

History

The Nintendo DS Lite was announced on January 26, 2006, more than a month before its initial release in Japan on March 2, 2006 due to overwhelming demand for the original model. The DS Lite was released on the 2nd of March 2006 in Japan, Australia on June 1st 2006, North America on on June 11th 2006, Europe on June 23rd 2006 and South Korea on January 18th 2007.

Technical Specifications

  • CPUs: Two ARM processors, an ARM946E-S main CPU and ARM7TDMI coprocessor at clock speeds of 67 MHz and 33 MHz respectively
  • Top Screen: A backlit, 3.12-inch, transmissive TFT color LCD with 256×192-pixel resolution and .24mm dot pitch, capable of displaying a total of 262,144 colors.
  • Touch Screen: Same specifications as top screen, but with a transparent analog touch screen.
  • Sound: Stereo speakers providing virtual surround sound, depending on the software.
  • Wireless Communication: IEEE 802.11; wireless range is 30 to 100 feet; multiple users can play certain multiplayer games with one DS game card using DS Download Play.
  • Controls: Touch screen, embedded microphone for voice recognition, A/B/X/Y face buttons, directional control pad, L/R shoulder pads, Start and Select dimples, and Power slider.

Final Verdict

Pros:

  • Brighter screen, colours are more vivid and graphics are sharper
  • Lighter and slimmer than the original DS
  • Improved layout and buttons feel nice
  • Lid shuts properly!

Cons:

  • Glossy finish attracts lots of finger prints, and scratches are more visible
  • Feels rather cramped

The Nintendo DS Lite is definitely an improvement over the original DS, and much prefer the new design over the original. However it does feel rather a bit cramped when holding it, and the glossy finish can attract lots of finger print marks, and scratches are more visible. Also GBA cartridges stick out a lot more than on the original DS, and looks a bit odd!

The DS Lite does use a different connector than the original DS, so don’t expect your old GBA/DS charger to work with this.

All complaints aside, this is still one of my favourite handhelds, and I’m glad I made the switch from the original to the DS Lite back in the day. The unit I used for this review is actually my own DS Lite, which I have owned since new – It’s still going strong! so it has definitely stood the test of time. Also the DS Lite still looks rather modern, and doesn’t look out of place when you’re using it, which is good.