Nintendo DS Review

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My love of handheld gadgets doesn’t end with PDAs, it extends to portable gaming
devices as well. I’ve owned quite a few over the years… The original Game Boy,
Game Boy Pocket, Game
Boy Color
Game Boy
Advance SP
, Atari Lynx, Sega GameGear,
Game Park GP32
and now the Nintendo DS.

Everyone has been excited about the new
Nintendo DS
handheld because it brings some exciting new features to the
handheld console arena that have never been included in similar products before.
It also drops the ball in a couple areas too… Until the Sony PSP comes out,
this guy is going to be getting all the buzz… but I’m getting ahead myself…
Specs first.

Hardware Specs

CPU: ARM9 67Mhz and ARM7 33Mhz processors
Memory:  4MB
Screens: Upper Screen: 3in diagonal, semitransparent reflective TFT color back
lit LCD, 256 x 192 pixels, .24 DPI capable of displaying 260,000 simultaneous
colors,  Lower Screen: The same as top but with transparent analog touch
Wireless Communication: 802.11 & Nintendo’s proprietary format
Audio: Virtual surround sound, built-in stereo headphone / microphone jack
Game cartridge slots: 1 DS slot, 1 Game Boy Advance / SP slot
Size: (closed) 5.85 x 3.33 x 1.13 in.
Weight: (with DS cartridge installed) 9 oz.
Power: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery, 6-10 hours continuous play depending on
use per 4 hours recharging time

Package Contents

Nintendo DS
Instruction Booklet
AC Adapter
Hand strap
Metroid Prime Hunters demo game
Extra stylus

The first thing that I noticed upon seeing the product packaging and the unit
itself was that the words Game Boy were no where to be seen. Then my impression
of the DS as soon as I removed it from the box was that this device was
definitely not as portable as previous Game Boy models. Unless you are a fan of
huge cargo pants pockets, you’ll be putting this gaming device in your backpack
or gear bag. No more back jeans pocket transportation kiddies. Unfortunately,
with the new dual screen design, there really isn’t a way around the added bulk.

When closed, the DS actually looks like a GB Advanced SP that has had ‘wings’
added to it. The plastic is even the same  silvery color as my SP. Speaking
of the plastic, it feels light weight and does flex slightly on the bottom near
the cartridge slots. Not enough to really harp about though… If you have
cartridges in both slots, you’ll not even notice. So the unit doesn’t exactly
pass the Gadgeteer creak / squeeze test with flying colors, but it’s close

In hand, the device is a little too heavy to play with for an extended period
of time while laying on your back with your hands holding the DS above you. This
has always been my standard gaming posture for playing Game Boy and Pocket PC
games. With the DS, it’s more comfortable to just sit straight up while playing.

Then hinge on the DS is almost identical to the hinge on the GB Advanced SP.
It snaps open and closed with a slight spring loaded action. While there isn’t
any type of clasp or lock to keep the cover closed, you can hold the DS upside
down, and the cover will not fall open of its own accord.

At the front of the DS is a volume level slider switch, the Game Boy Advanced
game cartridge slot and the microphone / headphone combo connector. The volume
level slider switch has smooth action and is easy to adjust when needed. GB
Advanced cartridges fit flush with the front face of the device when fully
inserted. The DS has a built-in microphone, but the mic / headphone combo jack
will accept a one piece headphone / microphone to be sold by Nintendo later…
Until it is available, you can still plug in any old set of 3.5mm plugged
headphones that you already have and they will work great.

On the rear of the DS you will find a stylus silo (no, the DS is not a
PDA…), lanyard attachment point, DS game card slot,  the external
expansion connector (otherwise know as the AC adapter jack), and the two
shoulder buttons.  The stylus (and spare) that ships with the DS is a short
plastic toothpick. The included hand strap that you can attach to the DS doubles
as a thumb stylus that helps to keep fingerprints off the touch screen. The
external expansion connector / AC adapter jack accepts the included AC adapter
and also the adapter from a Game Boy Advance SP. The two shoulder buttons are
spring loaded tactile buttons that are active depending on the game cartridge in

Opening the DS reveals the dual screens. This is a new feature for handheld
gaming consoles, and has been the source of speculation and murmurings ever
since the DS was first whispered about. Both screens are color, 3 inches
diagonally, 256 x 192 pixels, backlit, bright, and vivid. The only difference
(apparently) between the upper and lower screens is the fact that the bottom one
is a touch screen.

For DS cartridge games, the main game view is in the top screen. The bottom
screen is typically used for menus, inventory, maps, etc. I wasn’t sure how
beneficial this feature might be until I actually started using it with the
first DS game (only game so far) that I purchased: Super Mario 64 DS. So far I
haven’t bothered to remove the stylus when I need to tap the screen. I just use
my thumb. Yes, the screen gets all fingerprinty after awhile, but it just feels
awkward to me to use the stylus or even the lanyard thingy. Actually interacting
with the touch screen is similar to a PDA, it is sensitive and does not have any
sponginess to it.

If you’re playing a Game Boy Advanced game, you have the option of either
playing the game from the top screen or the bottom screen.

The graphics and display quality on the DS is much better than the one on my
Game Boy Advance SP. For one thing it is way brighter. The DS is back lit
instead of front lit like the GB Advance SP. The difference is very noticeable.
Action on the display is crisp and clear. I’ve not noticed any blurring at all.
I haven’t had the chance to try the DS outdoors in full sunlight yet because
it’s been pretty gloomy here in good old Columbus, Indiana the past week.

On either side of the top screen are the speakers. Let me tell you, the sound
on the DS totally blew me away. It has a virtual surround sound mode that sounds
better than my PC. Maximum volume level through the speakers is not super loud
(parents will be happy for that!), but I think it is loud enough for all but the
noisiest environments. Through headphones, I notices sounds not evident through
speakers. For example, when I listened to Super Mario DS through headphones, I
could hear blub, blub water sounds when Yoshi was swimming underwater. This
sound is absent when listening with the built-in speakers.

On the left side of the lower screen there is the Power button and 4 way
joy pad. On the right side of the display there is the Start, Select, A, B, Y and
X buttons. All of the buttons are made of black plastic and have audible click
tactile feedback. Former Game Boy owners will notice the addition of two extra
buttons: Y and X. These new buttons function differently depending on the games
you install.

Below the lower screen you have the Microphone and two LEDs. The left LED is
the battery recharge indicator. It glows orange while the battery is charging,
and turns off when charging is complete. The right LED is the power indicator
status LED. It is green when the DS is turned on and turns red when the
batteries are getting low. This LED will blink rapidly when the DS communicating
wirelessly. The same LED will blink slowly when the device is in sleep mode.

As for battery life, I’ve not had the chance to test this out totally. But if
the battery is anywhere near as good as the Game Boy Advance SP, people will not
complain. This might be off topic, but I was very surprised the other day when I
turned on my GB ADV SP and it powered up. Why should I be surprised at that?
Ummmm, because I’d not recharged it in over a year! No, I’m not kidding!!!!

Speaking hardware only, the DS is impressive. Yes, it’s larger and bulkier
than any Game Boy to date, but you have to pay for the fact that it has the dual
displays and great sound built in. I’m not sure how kids will take to this
device since it’s not as portable as the GB ADV SP… Time will tell.

Let’s shift to software now. I’m not going to talk about specific games
though, just the software built into the DS. My first impression after charging
the DS and turning it on was that I was setting up a new PDA. It asked me to set
the time, date, my birthday, favorite color, nickname, etc. I also had to
calibrate the touchpad with the stylus. I was already wondering how long it
would be before someone released a PDA-type cartridge for this device. It even
has a built in alarm  to alert you after a predetermined time. Too bad all
you can do when the device is in alarm mode is wait for it to go off. You can’t
play a game or even turn the device off… It would be cool if you could set an
alarm to stop a game at a specified time. Parents might appreciate a feature
like that to alert them when game time is over for their little rug rats.

Another feature that is pretty useful is the Sleep feature. You can just shut
the screen anytime you want and the device will go into power saving sleep mode.
Open it back up and your game resumes where it took off.

The DS has two power on modes that you can choose from. You can either see
the menu with date/time every time you power on, or you can set it to
automatically load a game if there is one inserted in slot 1 or 2. If you have a
game in both slots, it will always load the DS cart. In the manual mode, you can
choose which game you want to play if you have both slots occupied. It’s pretty
nice to be able to carry two games with you all the time…

I guess this is as good a time as any to tell you all about my biggest gripe
about the DS. It’s not the size or the bulk. It’s not the price of the device or
the price of the DS cartridges either. It’s the fact that you can’t play
original Game Boy cartridges on this handheld! I was very very very disappointed
when I realized this fact. I still have several original carts that I enjoy
playing. Prince of Persia being one of my faves… The thing I don’t understand
is the fact that the GB ADV SP can play original carts just fine! So if the DS
has a GB ADV SP slot, then why the heck can’t we use that slot for original
carts too? Someone with more knowledge than me, please answer this question.
Since there are so many original
carts still out there, it’s a shame not to be able to play them on this system

In addition to the alarm clock, time and date features, the DS also has a
applet called Pictochat built in. Pictochat is sorta like Microsoft’s Netmeeting
white board meets instant messaging. It uses the DS’s built-in WiFi to connect
to other DS’s in its vicinity to type and draw messages to other users. You can
type on a popup keyboard or draw pictures using the stylus. I’m not real sure
what the real advantage is for this feature, but hey, it’s there if you want to
use it. Of course, I didn’t buy two DS’s, so I was unable to test it.

A better use for the built in WiFi is the ability to play games with multiple
players. Depending on the game cartridge, you can either play games with all
users having the specific cartridge installed in their respective devices, or
games that only require a host to have the cartridge. Again, with only one DS, I
was unable to test this feature. What would be really nice would be the ability
to use the built-in WiFi to surf the web or use a real instant message program.

One little annoyance that I want to point out is that whenever you quit out
of the Pictochat or game download (WiFi / multi user) features, you have to turn
the DS off. You can’t just exit out of the application and start playing a game.

As of this writing, DS games are pretty scarce. There are only 12 games
displayed on the Nintendo DS website, with 8 of them supposedly available as of
11/21/04. When I was lucky enough to purchase my device, the only games
available at Circuit City were Super Mario 64 and Madden Football. Not really a
football kinda girl, I skipped that title and just purchased Mario. A demo
cartridge of Metroid Prime Hunters is included with the DS, so even if you’re
lucky enough to find a DS but unlucky enough to get games, you’ll at least have
something to play!

I guess it’s bottom line time… What do I think of the Nintendo DS? I love
the displays, love the sound, like having two cartridge slots, can deal with the
bulk, but hate that I can’t play my original Game Boy cartridges. With a price tag
of $150, and new games at $30-40 this isn’t a cheap toy to buy and continue
using. That said, I have found my short time with this device to be enjoyable.
My advice would be that if you already have a large collection of GB ADV games
and a GB ADV SP, don’t upgrade to the DS just yet. Wait till more games become
available or until the Sony PSP comes out. For those of you that don’t have a
handheld game system at all and just can’t live without the DS, go for it…
It’s a fun device that has a lot of potential… at least until the Sony PSP
comes out ;o)


Price: $149.99

Dual screens
Great sound
Great graphics
Wireless capabilities

Can’t play original Game Boy / Game Boy Color cartridges
Only a few games available as of this writing that take advantage of the dual
screen design
Bulkier than previous models


Product Information

  • Dual screens
  • Great sound
  • Great graphics
  • Wireless capabilities
  • Can't play original Game Boy / Game Boy Color cartridges
  • Only a few games available as of this writing that take advantage of the dual
  • screen design
  • Bulkier than previous models

38 thoughts on “Nintendo DS Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. From what I recall, the GBA SP and GBA both had ARM7 processors plus an onboard Z80 chipset which powered earlier versions of the Gameboy (Gameboy, Gameboy Pocket, Gameboy Color). The Nintendo DS, however, no longer has that chipset built in, which means it can’t do Gameboy games even though the cartridge slot can physical accept them.

    In other words, GBAs and GBA SPs had compact versions of the GBC built in, which meant they could play the games just fine – just as the PS2 has a chipset which duplicates all the original PSX’s functions to allow it to play the same games. Since the DS is missing the chips, it can’t do the games. I guess the wireless chipset had to go SOMEWHERE. 😀

    Personally, I’m looking forward to more games, and hopefully a wireless Internet cartridge for the GBA slot – complete with some PDA functionality in flash-ram. Between that and the touch-screen interface, it could blow past the PSP in terms of usability, especially if the PSP’s battery life is half that of the DS (which will depend on how often the drive has to spin and how it handles the wireless functionality – and the better screen WILL cost it some battery life).

    Still, this’ll be an interesting battle no matter how they say they’re aiming for different markets – especially if the PSP is released later in North America and with a higher price than the $199 US it’s currently slated for in Japan. Sony has had a habit of overpricing items in the past or undershipping… and we’ll see if that habit reasserts itself here.

  3. Haesslich:

    Thank you for the explanation. I just wanted to clarify that the original cartridges do NOT fit in the GBA slot on the DS. They only slide in so far and stop. I’m still disappointed that Nintendo failed to add compatibility for this, but I guess I’ll get over it 😉

    I’m still very anxious to try the PSP. It looks so much slicker than the DS. Looks aren’t everything though…

  4. There’s a reason the original cartridges don’t fit – look at the notch on the back of your GBA games and then compare it to an original GB/GBC cart. Notice that the latter doesn’t HAVE that, whereas the GBA cart does. They’ve put a groove for that into the DS’ GBA cart area, specifically to make sure the GB/GBC carts are physicallly incompatible. The ARM7 which powers the GBA is still in the DS, so that allows compatibility along those lines, however, and thus they’ve kept that backwards compatibility in.

    We’ll see how the PSP does. If the launch selection is bad (as the DS’ is) and the battery life is worse, even the best screen in the world won’t save it. Remember – the Gameboy original beat out the Game Gear, the Pocket Neo Geo, and several other competitors over here because of battery life and game selection. If the PSP only runs four hours per charge, people aren’t going to be happy.. especially if they find out they can’t burn their own movies or MP3’s to the UMD’s. If they allow users to put MP3’s only to the relatively expensive Memory Stick Duo Pro sticks, it’ll turn ugly REAL quickly – they’ve been playing up the multimedia capabilities, including sound and video, on the PSP.

    Sony’s been rather digital rights management oriented for the last decade and a half, thanks to its movie and CD division. As a result, they’ve tended to do things which are rather restrictive regarding user ‘rights’ as far as managing recordings or what can be played on their devices go – I suspect this is why MiniDisc never really took off in North America, given that even recordings that you make cannot be transferred off disc digitally, and you had to convert anything you wanted to ATRAC and upload using their special software, at least until recently. The Movie and CD division has been the tail that wagged the hardware dog for quite a while, and the PSP may become the next battleground for them (the PS2 seemed to be, which is the only reason I can explain for them NOT including DVD functionality out of the box). I suspect that if those two departments had been HALF as strong as they are now, the original Walkman would never have left the factory. 😀 Especially the ones that did recordings.

  5. Haesslich wrote:

    …I suspect this is why MiniDisc never really took off in North America, given that even recordings that you make cannot be transferred off disc digitally, and you had to convert anything you wanted to ATRAC and upload using their special software, at least until recently.

    The MD’s used serial copy management which blocked anything being recorded digitally from pre-recorded minidiscs (THAT was a lost cause!). You could also not copy anything digitally from MD to MD regardless of the source being CD or personal. However, you could copy analog recordings digitally to another MD, and there were adapters which would bypass the copy management. I never bothered using the bypass, as I could: 1. Make unlimited digital copies of any CD. 2. Copy any MD to MD in analog without noticable degradation for the first generation. I hope the new format MD with 13+ hours of material per disc takes off, if only to postpone abandonment of the current format, as I have close to 700 MD’s!

    Anyway, to keep things at least slightly on topic so Julie does not scold me :p , I agree with your opinion on the DS versus PSP issue; if the PSP has any major shortcomings, the DS will take over pretty firmly. Yeah, the DS is physically big, and the options for configuration are cumbersome and limited, but the kids are having a blast and are not looking for the power adapter until bedtime.

  6. I hope the battery life issues with the PSP are wrong. I really want that device to be good… maybe it’s only because I love the look of it… 😉

  7. Two more of the launch games (Need for Speed Underground Rivals and that Mahjong game) got pushed back, according to Gamespot. While Sony’s gotten very efficient in handling portable drives (see their MiniDisc units), I’m wondering how much of a powersuck their wireless and screen will be – it’s a beautiful unit, physically, and the display looks to be top-notch, but the Game Gear and the Atari Lynx, or even the Neo Geo Pocket had better screens than the GB, GB Pocket and GBC they were going up against… but lost because of battery life and a relatively short list of titles.

    The main thing Sony has to leverage is their developers here – if they can get even HALF of the PS2 developers to put out good PSP games, then they’ve got a fighting chance. If they end up having a real short battery life, or hit the wallets too hard, however, then this’ll be a massacre. If they don’t let users watch videos they burn themselves, and the UMDs are expensive (over $10 per disc, say), that’ll kill the multimedia portion of its usability. If all three factors named above are problems, then they’ll have to wait for the PSP2 to have a shot at taking the portable world by storm.

  8. A question on something not touched on in the review…
    How do you play linked Gameboy Advance games with other Gameboy Advance and SP machines using the DS?
    I don’t see a link connector on the DS and the wireless adaptor for GB Advance and SP does not work with any but “special” games. It would stink to have to carry both my SP and a DS to “function” in the real world. (ok, ‘function’ is not the best word, perhaps co-exist is a better word)
    I see a trend towards forcing the EOL (end of life) of the original GB and GB Advance titles. This makes me unhappy and considering that I have faithfully purchased each new Gameboy up until now, it would hurt Nintendo to lose me to Sony.

  9. It should be noted the DS is NOT a replacement for the GBA SP, or at least it is not directly a replacement – Nintendo intends it as a complimentary device, at least at this time. It is missing the Game Link port, as you’ve noted, and I do not believe that the DS’ wireless capability is compatible with the Wireless Link for the GBA. Therefore, to get GameCube connectivity, you need to use a GBA or GBA SP… which is probably what Nintendo assumes you have anyways, if you’re using the GBA cart port on the DS. The important point is the DS is not a Gameboy, which is why it’s missing that name. It can use GBA carts, but it is not a GB product. In that sense, it’s rather like the Virtual Boy – a completely seperate branch of the Nintendo hardware family.

    And the original GB titles have been heading towards end of life for about four or five years now, so I’m not surprised that this is the case – after all, some of those things are over TEN years old at this point, and the batteries for those that used them for savegames have since died. The Nintendo DS is a new console, and while it renders the GBA obsolete in many ways, the DS is NOT a Gameboy – it is a completely new console, like the N64 or the GameCube is.

    Notice that with EACH new console that Nintendo as released, they have not included backwards compatibility – NES games did not run on the SNES, nor did SNES games run on the N64, much as the GameCube cannot run N64 cartridges. The fact the DS DOES have backwards compatibility is a bit of a bonus, but Nintendo intends the DS to be a new console entirely… and still seems to have plans for a GBA successor on top of this, possibly integrating some of the DS’ features.

    And I don’t believe the PS3 can run PSOne games, so this trend is not limited to Nintendo – Sony was probably the ONLY console manufacturer to allow backwards compatibility on the PS2 console, and that’s because of the media being so similar in terms of technology plus the miniaturization of the PS hardware which allowed this extra feature. As far as I can tell, the Gameboy is probably the ONLY console which has had backwards compatibility all the way back to ten or fifteen year old games. And being honest, a lot of new gamers aren’t even as old as the original GB or GBC. The backwards compatibility was a concession to us old folks. 😀

    Besides, if you want to go over to Sony, go ahead – that PSP won’t play old PSOne games either. 😉 Personally, I’d like to have both units… but the PSP can wait a bit. I want to see if they allow people to burn their own movies and music onto UMDs, because if they don’t… well, if the battery life’s bad too, then I probably will wait a year or two to pick one up. Either that, or I can buy a hard-drive based media player which I know -will- let me download my own content onto it… especially if the PSP falls prey to old Sony habits regarding very restrictive DRM. It’d be a pity to have everyone forced to buy $150 Memory Stick Duo Pro sticks just to have 256-512MB of music on there, or to have to put your videos on that.

    If Sony’s pushing the PSP due to its multimedia capabilities as well as the game-playing capabilities – remember, the whole thing about UMDs is that they intend to sell movies and music in that format, so you can watch it on your WiFi-enabled handheld – then I hope that they do loosen their restrictions a bit and allow people to buy UMD burners and blanks, or at least allow videos to play from the Memory Stick Duo’s. If they deny people the ability to use either (a possibility that can’t be discounted – look how long it took for them to include MP3 support in their audio players; 5 or 6 years from the first Network Walkman), then the PSP will fail in that respect. And if it fails there, then outside of its games… it’s not THAT much different from the DS. I hope they can put in their battery tech in here – they’ve gotten pretty good at managing hard drive and MiniDisc player batteries over the years, which means that won’t be the major power drain.

    Or at least, that’s my hope – it’d be a shame for them to have subcontracted out the design and parts, as they apparently did with my MiniDisc player. 😛

  10. Some things that make the Super Mario 64 DS game different are the improved graphics over the old N64 version. Also the mini-games are fun. There’s a ton of them that get opened up when you catch the 3 rabbits near the front of the castle and the other one when you go under the castle (a few more rabbits to chase). What is interesting is that in Japan, the are several licensed products that will be released there but not currently available in the US market – screen protectors, glare reducers for the screens and various Nintendo DS carrying cases. You can find pictures over here:

  11. Haesslich wrote:

    it’s a beautiful unit, physically, and the display looks to be top-notch, but the Game Gear and the Atari Lynx, or even the Neo Geo Pocket had better screens than the GB, GB Pocket and GBC they were going up against… but lost because of battery life and a relatively short list of titles.

    And don’t forget that the physical size of the Lynx, and Game Gear was probably another large factor for why they ultimately failed. If you can’t easily carry it around with you where ever you go, you’ll never use it…

  12. Julie wrote:

    And don’t forget that the physical size of the Lynx, and Game Gear was probably another large factor for why they ultimately failed. If you can’t easily carry it around with you where ever you go, you’ll never use it…

    That’s a good point. Although I like the DS, the SP is so much more compact, and it’s a really elegant design. Although it seems unlikely, I hope they do continue to develop the “Gameboy” line. An SP with more processing power, a better display, and analog controls could be the ultimate pocketable gaming device.

  13. Julie wrote:

    And don’t forget that the physical size of the Lynx, and Game Gear was probably another large factor for why they ultimately failed. If you can’t easily carry it around with you where ever you go, you’ll never use it…

    The Game Gear and Lynx weren’t that bad, not compared to the original Game Boy – the Pocket was smaller, yes, but the battery life was AWFUL and that helped kill the other two systems, no matter that the Lynx or Game Gear were technologically superior to the GB. Developer support can keep a system going for a while (see the Dreamcast), but for handhelds, battery life is a major consideration.

    PSP will have developer support, if only because Sony will leverage as many partners into making games as possible, at least to start with. Whether it will be able to pull off a win, or will only settle down to a draw with the Nintendo systems is another story. But if the battery life is only four hours, or if the estimates prove optimistic (as they did for my MD players), then they’re going to have to put out an expanded battery pack ASAP.

    IIRC, one reason that people started releasing battery pucks and the like for the GBC was because the system only had 12-15 hours of battery life. I know I had one for my belt – PSP had better make provisions for that sort of extension. 😀 And, from what I recall, they’re still developing the GBA line… but that’ll be a while in coming, still. Let’s see what the PSP does right – and wrong.

  14. As the kind of guy who reads the electronics flyers before the rest of the paper, I find the DS versus PSP coming matchup fascinating.

    I own a GBA, but haven’t bought a new game or gameboy in years. I don’t understand why GBA games are as expensive as console games, when they are typically much shorter, and in general require less programming and artwork.

    The only game for GBA I’ve actually kept is WarioWare.

    You know, if the PSP or DS had some “classic” games built it, I would probably buy it. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could powerup an empty Nintendo DS, and find the original Mario Bros, Legend of Zelda, and Metroid in ROM?

    I think it will all come down to which system has the first “must-have” game.


    Sony to ship true MP3 HDD music player next month
    By Tony Smith
    Published Tuesday 30th November 2004 13:56 GMT

    [I]Sony will ship a third model in its hard drive-based Network Walkman series on 10 December, finally bringing native MP3 support to the music player family.

    The NW-HD3 …. MP3 support that really sets the new model aside. The previous versions forced users to convert MP3 files over to 48Kbps ATRAC 3 Plus files as they were copied across to the player. A new version of Sony’s SonicStage jukebox software, 2.3, will now allows MP3s to be copied directly to the player without conversion. The NW-HD3 provides native MP3 playback, but it also wraps the files a OpenMG DRM layer to prevent them from being copied back to another PC, Sony said.[/I]”

    You know, if they keep that in the PSP as well, as I suspect they may… well, that’ll get the people excited about the multimedia functionality of it upset. I recall them pushing that as the BIG difference with the PSP – the multimedia capabilities, on TOP of the fact it can play games. You can watch movies, listen to MP3’s (ergo the remote), and so on.

  16. Is there any place where this device is still in stock? I tried BestBuy and EBGames, EBX, and GameStop and it seems like they don’t have it. I plan on buying this after Christmas. Any news of when new shipments will arrive?

  17. Nintendo states they’re shipping another 400K of them shortly, actually.. as soon as production at that new factory in China gets up to speed. The PSP’s supply situation is far more dire at the moment – only 100K units available at the moment, so that means the chances of any of them making it to the United States even as imports is so slim as to be nearly nonexistent.

    It’s just like the PS2 hype when it first started. I expect eBay’ll be loaded with $2500 PSP’s in a month or so. 😉

  18. Thanks. I like the bulkiness. My hands always felt uncomfortable when I played my GBA SP. The PSP is like gargantuan compared to the DS

  19. TungstenT2 wrote:

    I own a GBA, but haven’t bought a new game or gameboy in years. I don’t understand why GBA games are as expensive as console games, when they are typically much shorter, and in general require less programming and artwork.

    I believe a lot of it has to do with the cost of Cartridges and memory chips, which simply cost a lot more than the CDs/DVDs used in current console generations. If you remember the N64 era, carts used to cost an astronomical amount–I remember paying 70-80 dollars for some games.

    Also, I’d like to repeat what Haesslich said: The DS is NOT a Game Boy. It is not supposed to be a replacement for the Game Boy line up. Its a whole new system; a “third pillar.” I think the N included the GBA slot for two reasons: entice users that clamour for backward compatbility, and (more importantly) for future expansion. There have been reports of users of the DS who use flashcarts have seen messages like “rumble expansion detected” and other similar messages that hint at future expansion possiblities.

  20. Granted, the price of memory chips have dropped substantially and the capacity’s improved by a factor of ten – just three years ago, anything over 128mb of RAM was prohibitively expensive, and even last year a gig of flash RAM would cost you several hundred dollars… and it’s dropped down to less than an hundred dollars now.

    CDs and DVDs are, as noted, a lot cheaper to produce. But they also require more supporting hardware than a cart does – as the cart is flash RAM and ROM, it plugs straight into the system and requires little extra equipment, thus allowing cart-based systems to load more quickly (they’re part of the memory bus at this point) and to take less power (only what’s needed to read and write to RAM/flash RAM). DVDs, CDs, and the UMD, on the other hand, require buffer memory for the drive proper to allow stuff being read off it to be transferred into system memory without having to constantly spin the drive, a laser, motors to spin the disc, some sort of stabilization system if it’s portable (lest your player take 5 minutes to load anything if you’re on a bus or walking along), among other things. All that takes power, though with more RAM you can spin the drive less… but that RAM is going to be expensive, depending on how much you need and how much data you have to store to keep the drive from eating up all your power.

    And yes, the DS is not a Game Boy – but it’s replaced my GBA in many applications, because I can play GBA games on a better screen. 😀 However, the GBA cartridge slot is referred to in the DS literature as an expansion port… which is promising, especially if they ever allow this thing full Internet access with a headset.

  21. Bad news:

    Q: How long does the PSP’s battery last?

    A: The short answer is that it depends on what you’re doing. The longer answer is that Sony has stated that the battery should last around six hours. With simpler-looking games, like Lumines or Mahjong Fight Club, that definitely seems to be the case. But with more graphically intensive games, like Ridge Racers, the battery doesn’t last quite as long. Based on our estimates and a few battery-draining tests, Ridge Racers seems to last somewhere between 90 minutes and three hours. Playing with the wireless networking switch flipped on will also further reduce your battery life. The system has an auto-sleep function that stops the wireless drain, but that switch is there for a reason. Turn it off when you’re not using it.

    Video and audio will likely drain the battery differently, depending on where the content is coming from. It’s less power-intensive to read from the memory stick slot than the universal media disc drive, though without any audio discs and only one demo video disc full of short games and movie trailers available now, it’s difficult to actually put a number on this. Considering that the screen will black out if left unattended, it seems reasonable that you should get a good amount of battery power out of the system when listening to audio.

    90 minutes to three hours with a graphically intensive game? And the power usage gets WORSE when you’re using the wireless….

    I hope Sony sells extended battery packs, or makes it REAL easy to switch battery packs out – as it is, anyone who sells a ‘plug-in battery pack’ for this thing’s going to make a killing; it sounds like you NEED one to play a PSP. God help you if you’re playing an RPG or a puzzle game that needs you to play for hours.

    And I’ve been averaging 6-7 hours with my DS games.

  22. Hi guys I know I’ve come in at the tail end of this discussion so I hope it’s okay to add my 2p worth. I’ve got a DS and I have to say I love it. I had a GBA SP prior to the DS and rarely used it, since having the DS I’ve used it a LOT and I only have two titles for it. Last weekend I was taking turns playing the DS and it lasted in excess of 10 hours, I was and am still amazed. The thought of the PSP lasting a mere 3 hours is really disappointing. I have been playing Mario 64 and have barely looked at The Urbz which is a big favourite of mine simply because Mario is keeping me more than amused. I love pictochat and since we have two DS in our house this can keep us entertained on its own for hours. I was a little bit worried when I saw the DS the first time as it looked a little cheap to me but I have to say its my fav handheld console for sure.

  23. GadgetGirl wrote:

    I love pictochat and since we have two DS in our house this can keep us entertained on its own for hours.

    That’s a problem for me: someone to link up with! In my area the DS is in short supply, so finding someone else to play with is a rare event. The store where the system was reserved called up on the first day they shipped, and said if it was not picked up that night they would sell it. 😮

  24. Don’t worry, GadgetGirl – you aren’t missing anything by skipping The Urbz. 😉 Apparently it’s just like the GBA version, but with an extra minigame for the pet selection… so there’s no real improvement there, not even in graphics.

  25. Well I got Ping Pals and Feel the Magic for xmas so I now have 4 DS games.. am yet to check out Ping Pals but Feel the Magic is both weird and good 😉

  26. trophyofgrace wrote:

    I think many DS games will be simply ports of the GBA until programmers get to know it better.

    It’s easy to port GBA games, just plug ’em in! The DS has enough power to port N64 games (like Mario 64).

  27. reidme wrote:

    It’s easy to port GBA games, just plug ’em in! The DS has enough power to port N64 games (like Mario 64).

    Well, the game-makers will port them (like the Urbz) to get more money.

  28. trophyofgrace wrote:

    Well, the game-makers will port them (like the Urbz) to get more money.

    That’s for sure! With the current dearth of DS games people will buy anything. :rolleyes:

    I hope N ports Ocarina of Time to the DS; I’d buy it again.

  29. trophyofgrace wrote:

    What haven’t they ported the Ocarina of Time to? 😛

    AFAIK it’s never been on anything but N64, unless you just mean Zelda in general.

  30. GadgetGirl wrote:

    am yet to check out Ping Pals but Feel the Magic is both weird and good 😉

    GadgetGirl, what do you mean by “weird and good”?

    PS: I noticed a striking similarity between your avatar and the below pic. Any relation? 😉

  31. Stuaz wrote:

    I heard you can get internet on the DS how???

    Internet access for multi play is coming soon, Nintendo just announced it. I think you would be able to chat too.

  32. I’m not the least bit suprised that the DS doesn’t supprt original game carts. To do so, it would take a Z80 processor for the backwards compatibility to be available. as well as a switch in the cartridge loader to distinguish GBA from Game Boy games. The DS already has two processors, the new model and the older GBA procesor. To add a third would add to the bulk, price and battery consumption of the DS. Let’s just all be glad it at least supports GBA games.

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