Wednesday, June 28, 2006


This sort of thing happens all the time.

First, a company comes out with this stunning new device that, it argues, you simply must have.
Then, once you buy it, the company comes out with a new, improved version designed to make you part with your hard-earned cash all over again.

Nintendo has been especially guilty in this regard, as the initial Game Boy Advance was later supplanted by the GBA SP and the recent GBA Micro.

Now, Nintendo has produced a follow-up to its critically acclaimed DS (Dual Screen) handheld console. This time, however, the changes are more than just window-dressing.

Dubbed the DS Lite, this new console is an improvement on the original in just about every way. It’s smaller, slimmer, weighs less and is considerably more attractive.

Apple has been an obvious influence on Nintendo, as the DS Lite bears an uncanny resemblance to the iPod with its translucent white color and rounded corners (other colors will be no doubt be coming down the assembly line soon).

That new look offers more than just aesthetic appeal. The original DS, with its gray, boxy design, tended to be a rather cumbersome carry-on, especially when you were trying to stuff it into your pocket. Not so with the DS Lite.

A number of buttons and switches have been moved around to make the console as sleek and useful as possible. The power button sits on the right side, while the start and select buttons have moved down to the bottom. The microphone sits in the center hinge so you can hear your voice better.

The brighter screen is easily one of the most notable improvements; it is not only brighter, but also it’s now adjustable. A little square in the bottom corner of the start-up screen lets you dim the lights, which is nice if you’re playing outside (a dimmer screen can also lengthen your battery life).

The only larger things about the DS Lite is the stylus, which is now thicker and much easier to grasp in your hand than in the past.

Really, there’s not a single part of this console that hasn’t been rethought and redesigned for the better. And the device retains the same innovative touch-screen technology that has made it an attractive buy for gamers in the first place.

With an already impressive library of games, the DS is ostensibly one of the best consoles on the market right now. The arrival of this classy redesigned edition just further underscores that point.

If you’ve been sitting on the fence, waiting for the right moment to pick up a DS, now’s your chance.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


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