Nintendo DS Lite (Polar White)
Typical Price: $15.00
CNET Editors' Rating: 3.5 / 5
The good: The Nintendo DS Lite is slimmer and much sleeker that the original DS. The device employs innovative dual-screen and microphone-enabled gameplay as well as Wi-Fi multiplayer capabilities, allowing for a growing list of original and fun games that you can't play on any other system. In addition, the system is backward-compatible with almost every GBA title. All these additions come without increasing the price or decreasing the features of the original DS.
The bad: Playing online games via Wi-Fi can be a hassle. The darker models are just as susceptible to scratches and smudges as the Sony PSP and the iPod, and its multimedia potential remains exclusive to Japan.
The bottom line: With a slick new design, brighter screens, and a growing library of fun and innovative games, the Nintendo DS Lite is an impressive improvement over the original DS.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
Editors' Note: As of April 2009, this product has been superseded by the Nintendo DSi, which adds slightly larger screens, two built-in cameras, an SD slot, and access to the online DSi Store for downloadable applications and games. The rating on this product has been adjusted accordingly.
Our original review of the -30895578.html?tag=txt">Nintendo DS listed only one "bad" characteristic: "Somewhat bulky." Whether it was because of early fan discord or because Nintendo has a propensity to redesign its systems--only the Nintendo 64 seemed to escape the extreme makeover treatment--the aforementioned complaint was addressed with a signature Nintendo remodeling. The Nintendo DS has been slimmed down and brightened up, and it's received a serious shot of vitamin style. Rechristened, the DS Lite attempts to make the same fashion statement for video game systems that the iPod did for MP3 players. The DS Lite is available for $130 in a variety of colors, including Polar White, Onyx (black), Coral Pink, Crimson (red and black), and Cobalt (blue and black). Keeping in step with Nintendo tradition, new colors pop up every few months, as do occasional limited edition color schemes and bundles.
The Nintendo DS Lite, like the original Nintendo DS, is a portable gaming system with two vertically tiered screens. On the bottom is a touch screen that allows you to use a stylus or a finger for anything from selecting options to moving characters. There's also a normal face-button layout that allows a more standard method of control. The system plays its own proprietary cartridges (which are somewhere between SD and CompactFlash cards in size), in addition to its near-full backward compatibility with Game Boy Advance (GBA) titles--the system will not play multiplayer modes of GBA games, unfortunately. While DS cartridges are much smaller in capacity than the PSP's UMDs, they play without the often unbearable load times of Sony's proprietary format.
As its name suggests, the Nintendo DS Lite is a much more compactly designed system; at 0.83 by 2.83 by 5.25 inches when closed and weighing in at 7.66 ounces, it's 39 percent smaller and 21 percent lighter than its predecessor. The rounded corners are more finely tapered, and the top and bottom sides are symmetrical, avoiding the underbite-like look of the original's oversize bottom half. It's a much more pocket-friendly system than the original DS. Despite the smaller overall size, though, the trademark twin screens have the same dimensions.
The layout of the DS Lite is largely similar to that of the Nintendo DS, with some slight, beneficial changes. The top half of the clamshell still houses the stereo speakers; they're centered on either side of the upper screen, and despite being smaller than those on the original DS, they're just as loud. The bottom screen is a little more conducive to touch, but it feels flimsier--almost as if you've kept the protective thin-film screen that overlays many LCDs when they ship from the factory. To the left of the touch screen is the D-pad, which is about three-quarters the size of the original but just as efficient. The four face buttons (X, Y, A, and B) are essentially the same but feel a little more pronounced than those of the original DS. No longer half-ovals on top, the start and select buttons are now tiny circles on the bottom. The power button has moved from just above the D-pad to the right side of the system. It's a welcome change, as the original looked exactly like the select and start buttons and was situated in the same area on the opposite side--which led to the occasional "turn off instead of pause" blunder.
The front of the system is basically unchanged; from left to right, the volume control, the GBA game slot, and the in-line-enabled headphone port are in the same spots. Formerly slightly above the front of the system, the microphone has been moved to the hinge between screens. In instances where you need to look at the bottom screen while using the mic, you may need to retrain yourself.
The back end of the system is basically the same. The only thing that's moved is the stylus holder, which is on the back of the system, to the left of the power switch. It looks a little more discreet, and the stylus fits a bit nicer. The left and right triggers are slightly smaller, but like the face buttons, they're more pronounced and easier to press. The DS cartridge slot is centered at the top, and the AC power port is off to the left. The system includes an AC adapter, two styli that match the Lite's color, and a smaller wrist strap that--annoyingly--does not include the thumbpad of the original.
The GBA slot has undergone some slight changes. In place of an empty cartridge slot, Nintendo includes a plastic cover that looks like a half-size GBA game. While it seems like it'll often be lost (think battery covers), it looks pretty sleek and serves to obscure one of the few design flaws of the DS Lite: GBA games stick out of the cartridge slot about a half an inch, whereas the original DS fit the cartridges perfectly. But it doesn't impede gameplay in the slightest, and it's not the ugliest-looking setup. And considering that the DS is backward compatible with hundreds of -0.html?tag=txt&filter=500685_18610_">GBA games, it's a small price to pay. A bigger beef with the DS Lite is that its high-gloss finish is a magnet for fingerprints, especially the darker-colored models. Our import navy blue DS Lite was constantly smudged, so Nintendo's failure to include even a rudimentary cleaning cloth or carrying case is notable. On the plus side, the clamshell design means the DS Lite travels well, limiting the scratches and marks to the exterior while the two screens remain fully protected.
The DS Lite has four brightness settings, up from two on the original DS. At the darkest setting, the DS Lite is just as bright as the original DS; at its max, it's almost as brilliant as the new -31590658.html?tag=txt">Game Boy Advance SP. Playing a GBA game on both systems, we noticed that the DS Lite's colors were slightly washed out in comparison. The DS Lite's backlighting makes the graphics stand out in DS games, though. The colorful -31662003.html?tag=txt">Tetris DS, for example, is significantly enhanced by the brightness of the newer system.
We tested the DS Lite's battery against the original DS's. Playing the exact same game (-31235248.html?tag=txt">Super Mario 64) at each system's brightest setting and maximum volume, the DS Lite lasted for roughly 5 hours, while the DS conked out after 6 hours, 45 minutes. Recharging the system back to full power took 3 hours. Like the original, the DS Lite goes into sleep mode when the system is closed.
Introduced about a year after the system launched, Wi-Fi compatibility on the DS is surprisingly solid for a free service hosted by a company known for its aversion to online gaming. Whether on the original DS or the DS Lite, the Wi-Fi setup is simple, as the system can spot most wireless connections. If there are none nearby, you can create one from a broadband-connected PC by attaching the -31641796.html?tag=txt">Nintendo USB Wi-Fi Connector to it. Without an external online network such as Xbox Live, finding friends is a bit unwieldy--you have to enter 12-digit "friend codes" for each game for which you wish to create a buddy list. Playing against nonfriends is hit-or-miss; you won't find a pickup game as fast as you will on a console, but as long as you're on a popular game during a reasonable hour, you should be able to locate competition. Over the course of an early evening, we were able to find several opponents in Tetris DS. The microphone lends itself to voice chat, but as of right now, only -31573598.html?tag=txt">Metroid Prime: Hunters employs between-match chatter. Local wireless is, of course, a lot more reliable, with the added benefit of allowing multiplayer via a single cartridge. GBA multiplayer games won't play head-to-head over the wireless connection, and the lack of a link cable port means you can't have a wired bond to older GBAs or Nintendo's GameCube unless Nintendo releases yet another adapter that interfaces with the DS Lite's proprietary power port.
The games for the DS Lite are of decent graphical quality--a bit better than the PS1/N64 but nowhere near Xbox/PS2/GameCube standards. It also pales in comparison to PSP games. Where the DS Lite really earns its stripes is the innovative quality of its titles. Whereas PSP games feel much like their console cousins, the DS Lite's dual- and touch-screen setup allows for some truly unique gameplay, whether it's drawing your own Pac-Man in -31556295.html?tag=txt">Namco's Pac Pix or performing surgery via stylus in -31399777.html?tag=txt">Atlus's Trauma Center: Under the Knife. That said, not many of the other third-party software developers are up to the challenge of taking full advantage of the DS's capabilities. For every Nintendo-produced hit such as -31424329.html?tag=txt">Nintendogs or -31394758.html?tag=txt">Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, there are several barely updated GBA ports or slightly downgraded PSP ports--neither of which make much use of the touch- and dual-screen technology.
The DS systems lack the video and audio playback and Web-surfing functions of the PSP, at least in the United States. Nintendo-supported solutions for both--the Play-Yan media player and Opera Web browser respectively--have or will soon appear in Japan, though the U.S. release status of both products are currently unknown. We will update this review accordingly when and if the products hit Stateside.
Until the release of the -31355104.html?tag=txt">Nintendo Wii, the company seems intent on focusing its creative juices on the DS rather than the near-dead -8688672.html?tag=txt">GameCube. If you still haven't picked a portable gaming system, the DS Lite is definitely worth picking up if you like its -6312212-1.html?tag=txt">growing list of quirky, original titles. If you've already purchased the original, the improvements aren't significant enough to warrant shelling out another $130 unless you're truly put off by the bulkiness of the original. If you're in the market for a portable system with more mature--albeit less original--titles and decent media playback capabilities, then the PSP may be worth picking up for just $40 to $70 more.
|Product Description||Nintendo DS Lite - Handheld game console|
|Name||Nintendo DS Lite|
|Type||Handheld game console|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||5.2 in x 0.9 in x 2.9 in|
|Display||LCD display - 3 in TFT active matrix - Color|
|Display (2nd)||LCD display - 3 in - Color|
|Input Device||4-way cross keypad - 6 button(s)|
|Battery||1 x Game console battery - Rechargeable - Lithium ion|
|Included Game Console Accessories||AC power adapter|
Average User Rating: 3.5 / 5
User Rating Breakdown
5 Star: 101
4 Star: 24
3 Star: 5
2 Star: 5
1 Star: 6
This will not be a problem; superb redesign
Rating: 5 / 5
on February 27, 2006
15 out of 17 users found this review helpful
Pros: Very slick, bright screen, free wi-fi connection, backward compatibility with GBA games, reliability, touch screen, additional TV and online capability, etc.
Cons: Bulky? Absolutely not! Pricey? No!
Summary: For those who think the Nintendo DS is too big, heavy, and bulky. You better look at this! I am sure there won't be any more redesigns for the DS. This is by far the best console redesign I've ever seen! Yet, this would be perfect if it had a larger screen(top one) and an analog stick for easier control. But that doesn't matter, this is still a DS. The DS gaming library is greater and better than the PSP's. Don't argue that this is a childish console. The DS is meant to be targeted at all audiences including non-gamers. This is both innovative and original.
The DS is for a different market than the Sony PSP. It is at the right pricing for a real portable gaming console unlike the PSP. Would you expect the DS to have optional movie and music playability? Again, the DS games are more original and arguably better than the PSP's.
Great system, not much better than old one
Rating: 4 / 5
on June 17, 2006
6 out of 6 users found this review helpful
Pros: Great games, small form factor, Excellenct screens, great battery life
Cons: GBA Games stick out, buttons not as good as original ds
Summary: I recently traded in my ds for a $70 credit for a ds lite. So basicly I got my DS lite for $60 and no longer have the original. I'm not sure it was worth it. The DS Lite does look a lot better, and is more pocketable, but the face buttons are not as good as the old ones. Fighting games, or games where you hold one button down and press another with that same thumb don't work as well (running in mario games). The D-pad and face buttons are less accurate and seems slower, especially in street fighter type games. The D-pad is smaller on the lite, and harder to control for me. If you have small hands this shouldn't be a problem. Still, the ds lite makes games like metroid hunters alot easier thanks to the fact that you can hold it with one hand for hours on end (unlike it's heavier counterpart). And the R and L buttons on the DS lite seem to be of higher quality and are supperior to the old DS's. The last con of the DS lite is a big one for me. GBA games stick out. I use a supercard sd flash cart with flashme on my DS so that I can play music, movies, pictures, and homebrew games. With this in, it really kills the look of the ds lite, and takes away the fact that the ds lite is less wide than the regular one. Still the battery life is better than the originals. I would suggest the DS or DS lite over any other portable system (PSP), but would only suggest trading your old ds for the ds lite if you don't like 2d fighters, or gba games. I'm not even sure about the gba part because soon they will come out with a flashcart that fits flush with the ds lite. (Flashcarts allow you to play backups of gba or ds games too) you don't have to carry all your games a round and your gba games won't stick out. If you get a ds lite with a microsd flashcart, 2 1gb microsd cards, and max media launcher, you would have the ultimate gaming and multimedia setup. With those things you can play mp3 music on those bumpin external speakers, gba, ds, and homebrew games and emulators (oldschool genesis, snes, and nes games), and movies and pictures on your ds lite without anything sticking out. People say that the psp has more features than the DS, with these things it certainly doesn't. The DS is even getting a web browser next month.
Quit thinking and just go get one
Rating: 4.5 / 5
on July 24, 2006
5 out of 5 users found this review helpful
Pros: Better games and gaming selection available, games available for almost every market, lighter weight than the previous DS.
Cons: Attracts fingerprints, no movie, internet, or MP3 capability.
Summary: I don't know where Sony fanboys can get off beating this marvel of electronic genious down. Nintendo has even come out and said that they are not trying to compete with sony or Micro$oft, so do they even truly have a right to beat it down? Not when Nintendo is targeting a completely different market.
This system boasts a plethora of nice features.
1) An extremely brighter and more readable screen.
2) A massive pre-existing library of GBA and DS games. (However the GBA games do not work with Multiplayer on the DS)
3) Long Battery life
4) I already mentioned a massive library of games, but the games being enjoyable to play is also a bonus. Having owned both a PSP and a DS, the DS is definitely the way to go for enjoyable gameplay selection, unless you truly need a multimedia device.
5) No analog stick (Having owned the PSP, I found the analog stick to be useless, if not painful to use. Analog sticks should be left for a platformer, not a handheld.)
6) Although we have yet to see it, The president of Nintendo, Saturo Iwata, has made statements that the DS will be compatible with the Next Gen Nintendo Console known as the "Wii", making future game demos available for in home download to the DS through the Wii Connect-24 service.
7) Sleek new looks lowered weight.
The only negative points I know of are:
1) No multimedia capabilities (MP3 or movie)
2) I know it has no internet browsing capabilities, but who honestly would actually use it. That is not what it was made for.
I could have gone a totally different direction with this review like all the Sony fanboys do in here, but I chose not to. If I have something bad to say about the PSP of the PS3, I'll go to their respective review page. I wish others would follow that example.
I have been a gamer for a while and......
Rating: 4.5 / 5
on July 17, 2006
4 out of 4 users found this review helpful
Pros: light, portable, decent graphics, great battery and fun games
Cons: limited multimedia uses at this time
Summary: I have been a gamer for a while and this gaming system has impressed me. I started gaming when atari was still popular and slowly worked my way up in systems since then. In the light of portable gaming my first portable hand held game was Sega's game gear.......which now rests in peace. (Although mine still works.) The DS is light and portable and although the graphics are not as good as PSP, the game play is great for all ages. But gaming is not all about graphics...it is also how long does something entertain...... with the long battery life entertainment can last up to 6 hours straight and still have enough power to play it the same lenght of time the next day. We buy these systems to play games, not to watch DVD's, use them for MP3s or even search the web......I have several things at home that performs these tasks. So why do I need them here? I am 29 and have a seven year old daugther and both of us can enjoy this DS Lite for a long time to come.
Rating: 5 / 5
on June 30, 2006
4 out of 4 users found this review helpful
Pros: Compact unit, unique gameplay, backwards compatible
Cons: Lacks protective case with purchase
Summary: Let me first state that I am a 35 year old professional. I have played video games since their infancy with Pong and the Atari 2600. I know games, new and old.
I have not been too partial to handheld video game hardware. My logic always has been that if I have time to play video games it will not be when I am running around town. It will be when I am at home. And if I am at home why would I want to sit in a corner squinting at a 2 and a half inch screen playing games with inferior graphics while my xbox 360 and home-theater surround sound and 52" plasma televevision beckons? Well, Nintendo did something interesting. I was already familiar with the DS and had no interest in it. At all! Then they released the DS lite and it's sleak new shape and design reminded me of their earlier liquid crystal display games of the early eighties under the subheading of "Game and Watch". The new DS lite is eerily remeniscent of those original flip open games and it took me back. Add to that a new, high tech sheen that rivals the sharp looks of an IPOD and I was suddenly intrigued. No longer was the DS a clunky, flip-open rehash. It immediatley had become a piece of sophisticated high technology. So kudos to Nintendo for reinventing the wheel. I have to assume it will open the doors to many others as well, and going by first week sales, I am correct.
But enough with my first impressions. Now that I have had the system for a week, let me tell you what makes this product so significant, in my opinion.
With this little handheld Nintendo has revolutionized the way games can be played. Granted many of these creative methods are far from being all new and completely original. Touch screens have been utilized in many business applications from menu systems to bar-riding trivia games. And voice recognition was concieved as far back as the creation of science fiction. However utilizing these devices into a portable gaming system is what makes it revolutionary. While being loyal to it's gaming roots Nintedo has extended it's arms out to a broader public with simple games that continue to challenge you beyond the 30 seconds it takes you to learn them. It truely is a toy for all ages. And for someone like me, I love being able to go back and revisit all those old classic SNES games and still have the ability to play games like Brain Age or ElectroPlankton. Add Wi-Fi compatability to that and it's extremely user friendly interface, along with great hardware installed features like Pictochat and wireless downloading and you have a portable system that I have no problem recommending to anyone. ANYONE. Old and young. East coast/west coast. This system promotes fun and interactivity. It helps me envison a time when children of the future will be utilizing touch screen notebooks to upload class assignments and do their homework on like devices and then taking a break and sending their friends a text message or breaking out a game of Mario Kart. This may sound like I am going off on a tangent, but the point is, that if this little portable game system can trigger that kind of imagination, just on it's premise alone, then that has got to say something. As it is, it is an amazing, simple, fun piece of technology that has redefined what portable gaming means to me.
If there is a downside to the DS lite it is the fact that it does not come packaged with any kind of protective case. But this is no fault of the hardware itself, but it must be noted. I could sit here and tell you how it doesn't do this and that (ielay movies, wireless internet, etc) but for the price of $129.00 I think it is a stellar deal and besides I don't need a gadget that does EVERYTHING. I have found, by experience that portable hardware that tries to do too much ends up suffering in one department or another, if not all.(PSP, anyone?)
I am sold on the Nintendo DS lite and I think everyone else would be as well if they spent a week with it. C-NET seems to almost discourage any "10" ratings, and I understand their logic, but considering what we're talking about here, when it comes to portable hand-held gaming, to me, it doesn't get any better. Go get one. Please.