Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nintendo DSi










- Preordered one from Amazon for $170 just to save on shipping.
- The screens do feel a bit larger but of course the resolution is still the same so the pixel density is even lower. It's quite noticeable especially if you've just been playing on an iPhone.
- I like the new volume and power buttons. It's nice that you can't accidentally change the volume like with the slider on the ds lite.
- There are 5 brightness levels and the maximum volume seems louder than the ds lite.
- The matte finish is also nice and feels good in your hands.
- No slot 2 means no GBA games and no guitar hero. There are still some good classic GBA games like super sf II and doom which never got ported over to the ds.
- The SDHC slot support is pretty weak. I stuck a 32gb class 4 in there which worked fine. But what you can do with it is pretty darn limited. You pretty much can only copy dsiware games from the internal memory to the sd card but you cannot PLAY from the sd card. You can only play dsiware games from internal memory. Man this feels like launch wii conditions. They need to get that fixed quickly in a future firmware update. You can also take those whopping .3 mega pixel pictures and save directly to sd. Finally, if you convert some mp3's to aac format, it has a pretty average music player. The biggest drawbacks are you can't lock the buttons and you can't even close the lid without the whole system going into sleep mode and stopping music playback. Pretty lame that it doesn't support mp3. So basically don't bother getting a large sdhc card because most of it will probably go to waste unless you plan to use your dsi as an aac player. I have my iphone for that.
- For mp3 -> aac conversion I like dbpoweramp.
- The overall form factor doesn't seem much different from the ds lite. It really didn't seem any thinner.
- I haven't played it long enough to judge how battery life is yet. Battery is still user replaceable which is nice.
- What is up with changing the power plug yet again!!!! At least I found a pretty good 4 in 1 usb charging cable that works with ds phat, ds lite, dsi, and psp. Pricing is dirt cheap from dealextreme but expect shipping to take around 3 weeks.
Couple that with this very nice usb power adapter (works great with iphone 3g too with the iphone usb cable):
- The two cameras are pretty low resolution. I guess it's ok for the smallish screens on the dsi. You can do all kinds of real time manipulation of the image like stretching it out, etc. My kids got a kick out of it. It also has a pretty nice slide show mode. What is pretty lame is you can only view pictures taken with the dsi. You can't just put a bunch of jpeg's on a sd card and view a slide show. WEAK!!!
- No video support at all (playback or capture).
- The audio recording application is pretty limited. You can only take very short clips and only save to internal memory. It also lets you apply all sorts of funny filters.
- The camera, sound, and music application all feel very fisher price to me.
- Finally, they added WPA support which btw works just fine with dd-wrt. Too bad it's not backwards compatible with older ds games that only support wep.
- You can link your dsiware account with your wiiware account so you only have one login to worry about but what is silly are the points are tracked separately. That means your wii points and dsi points are separate buckets. At least they give you $10 (1000 points) free when you first login. There really isn't much dsiware to pick from. I Bought birds and beans for $2, and I guess I got my money's worth but it isn't anything that you couldn't play on a GBA. Hopefully we'll see more cool indie stuff like the wii has been getting.
- I also grabbed the free opera browser which works kind of ok. You'll tend to run out of memory on more complex pages and of course there is no flash support. Eh, I've got my iPhone which is probably the best hand held browser out right now.
- I upgraded the firmware to 1.3u.
- Comes packed with an extra stylus which is a good thing. The stylus slot is a bit loose for my taste. Still no wrist strap though there is a notch to attach one. Yup, I'm still using my original wrist strap that was included with my ds phat.
- I picked up this case which is pretty nice and compact.

Nintendo DSi Skin






- Got it from bestskinsever.com for $8 + $2 shipping during a promo. Right now it goes for $11.
- These skins are made out of a very tough material that is highly resistant to scratching and punctures. It covers almost every inch of the DSi for complete protection. It's pretty much the same thing as invisible shield but a lot cheaper.
- Make sure you read the faq and installation instructions carefully.
- Installation is pretty tough. It took me about 2 hrs and even then I screwed up in one corner of the cover but overall it came out pretty good. Here are some tips:
- You want as little dust as possible because getting dust trapped under the skin not only looks bad but also causes air bubbles which makes things even worse.
- There are two methods to wet the skin before applying. You can either use a spray bottle or dip it in a shallow container and shake off as much water as possible. I used the dip method. The advantage of the dip method is it slides around pretty easily for positioning the skin. The disadvantage are the corners and edges are hard to stick because initially it is so wet. You really have to wait several minutes for it to dry out a bit and hold the corners for 30 sec several times before it sticks.
- Doing it in a steamed (from running say a hot shower) does help with keeping the dust out of the air. I've also read a fan helps but it didn't seem to do much for me.
- Keep a credit card handy to help smooth out the skin though keeping your fingers wet and just doing it by hand works quite well.
- Use a toothpick if you need to peal up a corner and retry. It's best though once you lay the skin down you don't ever lift it back up. Just slide it around until it is in position.
- The pieces are cut very precisely and only fit one way. There isn't much room for error so make sure you know where every piece goes and position them carefully.
- A lint free cloth with a bit of highly diluted vinegar and water solution works well to clean the surface before applying the skin.
- Make sure you let the the DSi dry for 24hrs before turning it on.
- You definitely want to wait 36 hrs for best results. The difference between the first 24hrs and 36 hrs was pretty dramatic. It really does smooth out, and most air bubbles will vanish in 36 hrs.
- The feel of the skin is something you'll have to get use to. It's a bit tacky with a slight grip to it. Here's my biggest complaint. For the touch screen it doesn't really reduce sensitivity much as far as using it like a pointer. You don't really need any more pressure to say click on a button. The problem is with gestures with games like Rhythm Heaven. I find it quite a bit harder to flick and drag the stylus across the skin. It really takes some getting use to or I might never get use to it. It looks fine though. The skin is pretty transparent.
- One thing I tried that helped a lot with the touch screen: I wiped the entire ds really well especially the touch screen with baby wipes. This seemed to remove some of the tacky feeling and makes the stylus glide much better over the touch screen. I gave elite beat agents a try, and it seemed to work much better after cleaning the skin.
- The other option is to go with some Hori clones (or the genuine ones) for at least the touch screen. I have some of the hori clones but I haven't decided if I want to put those on instead. I really did a pretty good job on installing the screen pieces so I'm a bit reluctant to remove it.
- The skin also makes the DSi look very shiny. I kind of liked the original matte look and feel. It's really just personal preference.
- Overall what you gain is really good and very complete protection. What you lose is some stylus control on the touch screen and a change in the look and feel of the device. Also, a lot depends on your skills at installation, and I can tell you right now I don't have the most steady hands. I think a lot of it depends on personal preference if you like these full body skins. At $11 + shipping it's not a whole lot to risk. If you don't like it you can always remove it.

Highly recommended if you don't already have a DS. Otherwise I would probably recommend you wait until some good exclusive DSi games come out that make good use of the cameras or maybe a killer dsiware game. Right now it's just a slightly nicer DS Lite for $40 more.

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