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Quote-start

Possibly the best hand held console

Quote-end
16.08.2009

Advantages:
Sleek and stylish, vast amount of games, great fun to play, wi - fi enabled

Disadvantages:
Not the best graphics and audio of the hand helds, still expensive

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Graphics capability

Range of Extra Features (I.e. email)

Sound capability

Value For Money

Ease of useExcellent - very easy to use

Manufacturer SupportGood

Instruction manualGood

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  1. lora44
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very helpful by (53%):
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The Nintendo DS Lite


The Nintendo DS Lite (“NDSL”) was released in the UK in June 2006 as a replacement for the Nintendo DS (“NDS”). The NDSL is approximately 39% smaller and 21% lighter than its predecessor, however the signatory dual screen remains the same size, which is some feat. In order to put this reduction in to perspective I have included the dimensions and weight of the NDSL in a ‘technical specs’ section at the end of this review.


In order to reduce the size and keep the same screen size some changes had to be made to the NDSL, but they are purely cosmetic and do not interfere with using the NDSL for the average person.


The D pad is slightly smaller than the NDS, and whilst noticeable, I have no problems because of this. I must confess to having small fingers (and thumbs) but I can see that gamers with large hands and digits may encounter a few issues here. In addition the buttons are slightly smaller but not noticeably so.


The other change arising out of the ‘shrinking’ process relates to playing Game Boy Advance (“GBA”) games. Whilst the original GBA games can still be played the cartridge sticks out a few mm from the body of the NDSL. Using the NDS the cartridge fits like a glove and the top is flush with the body of the NDS. Providing you are careful the bit sticking out shouldn’t cause any problems, however it doesn’t look right with the set up looking unfinished and ‘botched’ together.

Looks and colours


When the NDSL was first released it was only available in black and white, and since both were a high gloss finish I think they looked quite stylish, albeit both had problems. The white was prone to getting dirty and often looked tired quite quickly. I find the black one prone to scratches and chips at worst, and at best smudges and finger prints, which is annoying since it leads to lots of cleaning.


Since its release the NDSL has been produced in many other colours including green, red, blue, yellow and pink. I have only seen this other colour NDSLs in catalogues and never in the flesh, so I can’t say whether they are the high gloss finish of the original black and white versions. I also never intend to find out since I think these other colour schemes look ghastly, cheap, nasty and very tacky.


I have also seen NDSLs available in a deep maroon and electric blue colour, both in a high gloss finish. I think these look very classy and stylish, and I would have purchased one but I have only ever seen them on Ebay (from Hong Kong) and there was no way I was going to part with over £100 for something that could be a non genuine item made out of inferior materials from an international supplier where there is likely to be little protection, so I opted for a black version.

Dual screen


It is the dual screen feature that is the NDSL’s (and the NDS’ before it) unique selling point that catapulted it so far ahead of the competition. The bottom screen, is as everybody knows, the touch screen whereby the stylus is used to tap, prod, poke, scribble etc. on during the game. These additional movements not only make the games more involving but also adds a whole new dimension to the gaming experience. This is something that is not replicated by the competition.


One thing I have noticed is the bottom touch screen appears to be quite fragile and flimsy and it does require a little looking after to ensure that it stays at its best and doesn’t get scratched or damaged, especially since there is no effective screen protector available.


Some games, by their nature, require extensive use of the stylus and to make things worse the harder and faster you use the stylus the better your character will perform. This encourages gamers to really abuse the touch screen, which could create irreparable damage. Such games include Mario and Sonic at The Olympics, International Track and Field and Asterix and Obelix at The Olympics – notice the theme here? Whilst I have played all
Pictures of Nintendo DS Lite
Nintendo DS Lite Nintendo DS Lite
Small, sleek, stylish and has great graphics with many games.
of these games I soon gave up on them when I saw how heavy handed they made me on the touch screen of my NDSL. These games can be played using the buttons only, which will save your screen, but the fastest times/furthest distances etc. are only achievable using the touch screen so what’s the point in playing if you know you are never going to exceed your last performance?


It should be noted that some games can be played using the D pad and the buttons or the stylus, and some games do not use the touch screen and stylus combination at all. I find this amazing since it is the touch screen technology that drives the sales of the NDSL and some game producers just don’t exploit this. What is the point in having the technology and not using it, i.e. producing a game for the NDSL that does not use the touch screen?


The NDSL has 4 brightness settings, and whilst this is 2 more than the NDS I do feel that it is still not enough, especially since the original Game boy (released back in the late eighties) and almost all subsequent hand helds have had many more brightness settings.

Games


As previously mentioned the NDSL allows gamers to play not only NDS games but also GBA games, i.e. it is backwards compatible. This is great for gamers that previously had a GBA as it means they don’t have to get rid of previous games, which is the usual scenario when upgrading games consoles. This is also great for gamers who haven’t previously owned a GBA since there are hundreds of top titles that can be bought for next to nothing second hand from sites such as Ebay.


If you do play GBA games on the NDSL there is no improvement in graphics, sound, playability or anything else over playing the game on a GBA. In fact, playing the games on the NDSL is not as good since the colours on the NDSL are not as vivid as they are on the GBA. This really does show that improvements in technology do not always enhance the experience.


Another thing to note is that playing a multi player version of a GBA game with a mate cannot be played using the wi-fi feature of the NDSL. This is a shame since it renders multi player GBA games un-playable on the NDSL. The only way to overcome this would be to use a cable to link two NDSLs’ together although I am unsure if there is such a cable since there are no suitable connectors on the NDSL, and having no interest or need to play multi player GBA game I have never researched this further.


As well as playing GBA games there is the opportunity of playing “Home brew” games. These are games that are produced by game addicts, wannabe software designers, clever kids, geeks etc. that are available as a free download, or nominal fee from many websites. Whilst these games lack the depth, graphics, story line, playability etc of ‘official’ games, a lot of the home brews are very entertaining and as many are free (or as good as) you have nothing to lose. In order to play these home brew games you are going to need a flash card, another memory card and small piece of software. Personally I use an R4 card, a 2gb micro SD card (the R4 won’t support anything bigger, or an SDHC) and Moonshell and this set up works very well. It is easy to install, easy to load games on and is very reliable, and the best thing is you can turn your NDSL in to an all in one entertainment system as it allows you to listen to MP3s (although the NDSL sound quality is not the best) and watch video footage.


When dealing with NDSL games there is a vast range and all gamers, regardless of their age, sex, gaming ability or favourite genre, will find something that they will like. There are war games, shoot ‘em ups, puzzle games (interactive as well as traditional), role play games, sports games, beat ‘em ups and strategy games amongst many others. In addition there are scenario games whereby the gamer brings up a child or a dog or something like that, and whilst I don’t think these are strictly games these titles have attracted a large following, and what’s more is they only seem to be available on the NDSL.

Load times


Personally I find the NDSL game load times very fast and much quicker than those of the PSP. I appreciate that the PSP UMD’s holds a lot more information and has additional features but I hate the pauses during game play and would much prefer to have something that palys smoothly throughout, such as the NDSL.

Graphics


The graphics of the NDSL are great, but nowhere near perfect. They are clearly better than those of a N64/PS1 (Late nineties technology for those of you too young to remember) but nowhere near as good as that of the Xbox/PS2 or Game Cube, but I guess this is to be expected really. I also think that the graphics of the NDSL are below that of the PSP, which is another handheld.


The graphics vary greatly from game to game which really annoys me, but I guess this is the fault of the game producers. Some games are graphically superb and feature lifelike characters and real life scenery, both of which are extremely detailed and colourful. Such games include Brothers In Arms and Call of Duty. Other games contain really poor graphics that includes blocky characters or avatars and rubbish colours that are dull, boring and un-inspiring. Such games include Carnival games.


The NDSL doesn’t have the same video playback or audio playback qualities of competitive hand helds, such as the PSP, which is a shame since I am sure the unit would be more than capable of dealing with this.

Sound


In my opinion the sound is the biggest flaw with the NDSL and it is absolutely rubbish despite it being stereo sound. Personal stereos/CD players/MP3 players etc have been around for years and the technology has come on in leaps and bounds, but it does not appear to have been incorporated in the NDSL. This is a shame.


I appreciate that the music in most games is so repetitive, annoying and just plain dire that it is better just to play them with the sound turned down, but there are a few games whereby the volume has to be turned up since the sound effects and background noise really do enhance the game, as in the case with Dementium: The Ward.

Wi-fi


The NDSL is Wi-fi enabled allowing you to challenge not only those in your circle of friends but also other gamers around the world. If you are not in a Wi-fi area then you can connect to the internet via a PC or laptop by using the Nintendo USB Wi-fi connector, which is an additional expense since it doe not come in the box.


Connecting to a Wi-fi network is very simple and the NDSL seeks available networks very quickly. To connect you simply press a button and hey presto. It really is that simple.


There are many games available that lets you challenge an online opponent via Wi-fi. Whether you actually find an opponent will depend upon the game (obviously some are more popular than others) and it often takes a little time to get an opponent but this is not the NDSL’s fault. Before I tried this I as very sceptical about this online gaming stuff, but I am now hooked and can easily fill a few hours this way.


The NDSL has a microphone that use can use to voice chat whilst online gaming, although I have never had that much success with this. The only half decent game I have found that uses this technology is Metroid Prime:Hunters but the between match banter and chatting does work very well.


There is an additional bolt on that turns your NDSL in to an internet browser hence allowing you to surf the web. I have read many reviews stating this is a waste of time and money being a fad that is no where near as good as the internet surfing capabilities of the PSP but I have never had first hand experience of this so cannot comment. I have always been put off by the cost, which seems an extortionate amount and one I cannot justify, especially since I have a lap top for my internet browsing.

Price and availability


Currently the NDSL can be bought without a game for £99. I have seen it for less on the internet but none of the items appear to be in stock and there appears to be substantial lead times. I have been told that Tescos were selling the NDSL for £85, although the only ones available were the ghastly coloured varieties. If you want a game then expect to be around £119 (obviously depending on what game you get). There are various other bundled packages available, the price of which depends on the actual specifics.


The original black and white versions appear to be scarce at present as well, although there are loads of coloured ones about. One thing I have noticed is the black and white versions seem to only be available in the very expensive packages, which is a bit naughty.


When dealing with most products I would suggest having an internet search to find the best deal, especially since prices tend to vary significantly. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when buying a NDSL. The price appears pretty much uniform across all suppliers so the only bit of advice I can give is to use someone reliable, someone you trust and a well known supplier with a good track record to ensure you are buying genuine.


The other alternative is to buy from Ebay although there are many risks associated with this in that you may be buying from Hong Kong (inferior materials etc), you may be buying a fake or you may get scammed (which seems to be quite common when dealing with electrical items on Ebay). I have had a bad experience in the past and never buy anything of great value from Ebay even though Paypal pay you out in full (when I was scammed there was a £20 admin fee and you didn’t get the extortionate postage costs back!).

Accessories


There are loads of accessories available for the NDSL, and include things like numerous types of carry cases, additional stylus’ (very useful since I lose loads of these despite there being a stylus holder on the back of the NDSL that holds it very securely), various screen protectors (I have never found a good one that doesn’t hamper game play), different power supplies and chargers, software bolt-ons and in car kits amongst much more.


There are loads of offline and online retailers of accessories and, unlike the actual cost of the NDSL itself, prices tend to vary significantly. Therefore, I would recommend doing a bit of shopping about to ensure that you get the best price and deal.

Conclusion


Overall the NDSL is a great hand held. There are loads of games to choose from (genuine and home brew varities) and there is something for everyone. If you can’t The quality of graphics vary from game to game and the variance is huge. The graphics are amazing in some games and absolutely awful in others, but this appears to be the fault of the game producers so it is a bit hit or miss. In any case, the graphics, video playback and audio playback is not as good as the PSP.


Where the NDSL looses out in graphics it makes up for in playability and enjoyment. The games are entertaining and fun and there are loads out there that require little thought to play them, which in my opinion is what gaming is all about. That said, if you do like puzzles and strategies (and I do up to a point or until I get stuck and can’t progress, then I get very annoyed and all toys will come out of the pram) then the NDSL is also suitable for you. There are thousands of games available, and with the ability to play GBA games and home brew games this is all the better.


The NDSL will require a bit of care to keep it looking pristine so a carry case and a good cleaning cloth (that you use regularly) is an absolute must. I would also suggest avoiding those games that make you a bit keen and heavy handed with the stylus, such as those of the Olympic game genre.


The NDSL is still expensive (the PSP can be bought new for around £80) even though the all new singing and dancing Nintendo DSI has been released. It appears that the general public have come to the realisation that the NDSL is a fantastic hand held console and it is not worth paying one and a half times more for the new DSI, hence keeping the price of the NDSL high.


So the crunch question, would I recommend it? I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the NDSL, even though the PSP has better graphics, better sound and according to the reviews) is better at surfing the web. It truly is a great machine.

Technical specs


Weight – 0.217kg
Dimensions – 133mm x 72mm x 21mm
Memory – cartridge
Resolution 256 x 192 pixels
Stereo sound
Input – D pad, four buttons (A, B, X and Y), 2 shoulder buttons (L and R), select and start
Internal battery that is rechargeable
Wi-fi enabled


(Originally posted on Dooyoo under the name of Yackers1)

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Comments about this review »

lora44 11.10.2009 23:45

Back with a well deserved E x

lora44 10.10.2009 19:08

Cripes, another exceptional review! I think the DS Lite is a great console, lots of fun! x

tiger645 05.09.2009 13:15

Brtilliant review. x

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Product Information »

Product details

Type Portable Console
Console Type Nintendo DS
Long Name DS Lite, DS Lite Lillifee Set
Production Year 2005
Media Format Cartridge
Max Number of Players 1
Manufacturer Nintendo
EAN 0045496718077; 0045496717742; 0045496717544; 0045496718459

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This review of Nintendo DS Lite has been rated:

"exceptional" by (47%):

  1. lora44
  2. tiger645
  3. sarahbarrow

and 18 other members

"very helpful" by (53%):

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  2. Bethbear
  3. jedimastergray73

and 21 other members

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