Buyer's Guide: Nintendo Dsi

DSiDSi - The new gateway to gaming

Who's it best for?

This upgrade to the DS Lite offers the same great gaming experience you've come to expect from Nintendo's handheld, with the addition of more multimedia features and a greater scope for connectivity.

In plain speak, this really means that the DSi is the handheld of choice for the tech-savvy gamer looking to take a step up from the DS Lite. The larger screens, memory card slot, front and back cameras, built-in flash memory storage and onboard web browser expand the DSi beyond gaming and into lifestyle technology territory.

It's also a gateway into the wonderful world of DSiWare - an online game store where you can buy DSi software right from the device.

Best Bits

Bigger and smaller
Although it sounds obvious, we want our handhelds to fit in a pocket, and not all of them do. While Nintendo has added a lot of hardware features to the DSi, it's also managed to reduce the overall size of device itself. Admittedly the DS Lite isn't exactly bulky, but the DSi is even more compact and lighter (and a little bit sexier).

But it's still got size where it counts. No, we're talking about the screens. The DSi's dual screens measure 3.25 inches compared to 3 inches on the DS Lite - and you'll be surprised what a difference that makes.

Lites, camera, action
Everything's got a camera in it these days, and in keeping with its dual screen motif, the DSi has two - one facing you, and one on the back of the upper screen. These cameras are being put to use in a variety of DSi games, enhancing the experience by incorporating the real world into play.

DSi where?
Buying games online is something that home console users love, and because the DSi has built in storage and a memory card slot, you can use it to visit Nintendo's DSiWare service and buy games and software to download straight away onto the handheld.

Worst Bits

GBA no more
It's great that the DSi has slimmed down even more, but it's done so at the cost of the Game Boy Advance game slot found on the DS and DS Lite, so you can't play your old GBA games here.

Battery takes a battering
The bigger, brighter screens, cameras and extra connectivity takes a small toll on the battery, meaning the DSi needs charging a little more often than the DS Lite. You're still looking at a good 8 hours of playing on a single charge, so it's not a deal breaker by any means.

Fancier means more expensive
There isn't a huge price difference between the DS Lite and the DSi, but this newer hardware does cost a bit more, so you need to decide whether the extra features are going to be of use to you.

Bonus Extras

Without a game or software cartridge in, the DS Lite was pretty much an empty box. The DSi, however, is designed to provide more than just gaming. It's got a built-in web browser so you can look around the net between games, and the memory storage space and memory card slot means you can listen to music or watch videos.

Online Features

The DSi has some obvious additions, like the cameras and bigger screens, but the major update isn't on the handheld itself - it's on the internet. DSiWare is Nintendo's online store for games and software you can buy through the DSi and download directly to the device - no cartridge necessary. Because the DS Lite doesn't have any storage facility, you need a DSi to indulge in this online game distribution phenomenon.

Not only does DSiWare offer the convenience of shopping wherever your DSi has a wi-fi signal, you're also looking at considerably cheaper games. DSiWare is a repository for smaller, quicker gaming experiences, but the simple fact that game developers don't need a cartridge, box, instruction booklet or shop to distribute their products means great games are being added every week.

What do you need to get online?
The DSiWare shop is built into the handheld, so all you need is a wi-fi internet connection and you can go shopping.

Buying games online:
The online DSiWare store uses Nintendo Points - the exact same form of virtual currency used by the Wii. The benefit here is that owners of both consoles can spend their points on WiiWare games and DSiWare games; either by purchasing points using a credit card or by using a Nintendo Points Card available right here at GAME.

Essential Accessories

Just like its older brother, the DSi needs protection when you take it on the road. But it's new gaming and multimedia features also make memory cards a valuable asset to your gaming-on-the-go.

  • Cases: The DSi plays all your DS games, so if you've already got a carry case for games, you're sorted for the DSi. But the console itself is a slightly different, smaller shape, so keep it safe with a DSi-specific case.
  • Memory cards: Some of the best DSi features require storage space on the handheld, so get yourself a nice big memory card. It's worth noting that the DSi accepts SDHC cards (high capacity), so the bigger the better.
  • Headphones and speakers: Now you've got the option of listening to music on your big memory card, you might as well grab some decent headphones and/or speakers to listen with.
  • Stylus: The DSi's touchscreen will happily work with your DS Lite stylus, but the DSi's holder is for a slighter bigger pointer, so a proper DSi spare sylus is a good idea.
  • Skins: Being newer, the DSi isn't available in as many colours as the DS Lite yet, so why not customise with a skin? It'll help protect the casing, too.
  • Chargers: With the battery not lasting quite as long, make sure you've always got a charger handy.

You'll find GAME's full range of DSi accessories here.


All the DS Lite games work on the DSi, but there are some games that use the cameras or other DSi-only functions, so keep an eye out for those to make the most of the handheld hardware.


The way games are being distributed is changing. The internet is taking a far more active role in how we buy our games, and the upgraded features of the DSi are designed to harness that new online world.

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