Ninendo DSi XL Launch


Written by James Connors
24 Wednesday 24th February 2010

In April 2009 Nintendo released their popular DS console in it's 3rd form factor - the DSi. The main difference to the previous model was its new twin cameras, and this was backed by a strong marketing campaign showing it as more than a handheld games console. Nintendo hoped to gain new sales, as well as convince previous owners to trade in old models to obtain these new functions. Now, the DSi XL is due out on March 5th with an increased screen size over the standard DSi.

However, is this one reissue too many? When the DS originally came out, the quality of it's casing was low and the screen had many detractors. In comparison to Sony's PSP, the hardware did not look appealing and a new version was inevitable. The DS Lite that followed it was a distinct improvement, and many were more than happy to trade their original handheld in. With the DSi it was a different story, as the launch was Nintendo's aim to rejuvenate sales in it's native Japan, and were less concerned over other territories which led to staggered release dates.
In real life the DSi XL lives up to it's name, the extra inch added to the screens doesn't sound like much but certainly makes a difference in real life. Nintendo have been trying to push the new system as a machine that others can watch while you play, and I can confirm the viewing angle didn't cause me any problems when watching one in use last week. The lack of increased screen resolution however, does mean the possibility of some titles looking pixelated - while the backgrounds of Super Mario looked great, the title character himself didn't look as good as I'd hoped. However, in the future it's likely developers will ensure their games look great on this model too, and the larger screen is certainly a great payoff for a flaw many won't notice.
When I owned my DS Lite, I didn't have a mobile phone capable of playing particularly exciting games, so slipping it into my back pocket on the way to work felt the natural solution. The XL itself is probably just a little bit too big to fit into most peoples pockets, and probably reduces it's portability down a bit for those who often go out without taking a bag with them. However, with iPhones and Android based phones with large arrays of games the XL might see more use in the home anyway.
With two hardware revisions in such a short period, Nintendo might be pushing it's luck a little now. The DSi XL comes across as a model that should've been launched side by side with the DSi, giving existing owners more reasons to upgrade. By the time the DSi was launched in the UK, it had come under fire for it's lack of exclusive software even in Japan and many weren't happy with the quality of the cameras. While the XL makes sense to those who've never owned a DS or still have the original, those with Lites might still feel no desire to upgrade and DSi owners are probably feeling a little bit cheated right now.

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