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Nintendo DSi XL Review

A real eye-opener
We'll admit our first response to the news and initial pictures of the DSi XL was less than positive. We had fat DS units, we spent a mint getting smaller ones, so why would we want to spend cash buying a bigger one again?

And then we got our hands on the new handheld... we flipped back the DSi XL's strikingly thick upper body to reveal two giant, bright screens that slapped our jaded views in the face like a wet fish.

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It's actually quite striking just how nice the new 4.2 inch screens are compared to the much smaller 3.25 inch screens of the standard DSi. Unlike any previous DS, they have impact, like the original PSP did when you first saw one.

Their clarity and vivid colours are particularly stunning. We fired up New Super Mario Bros. which looks fantastic on the big screens. We even found that, thanks to the increased size of enemies on screen, it made it easier to judge precise jumps and avoid incoming obstacles with greater accuracy. The faster-paced DS games will no-doubt be easier and precise stylus use more achievable on the XL.

The slight downfall of an expanded screen is that, with the same 256x192 resolution as the smaller screens and a good set of eyes you can see the now larger pixels, which gives games a slightly blockier look. An issue that's probably not as noticeable to the older crowd for which the XL is clearly designed.

The added bonus of the console's extra bulk is the room for some bigger speakers, and compared to the overly quiet DSi the XL makes quite a racket.

We'd also assumed the console would come with bigger, easier-to-press buttons, but they're actually all the same size as the dinky DSi ones, d-pad included. So if you ever struggled with the small and closely-positioned buttons of the previous machines you'll receive no resolution here, which seems rather counter intuitive.

On a positive note, they're all just as nicely clicky and the D-pad just as precise as the DSi ones, and the stylus that comes inserted into the console is the same too. Plus, for those of you with Chris Eubank fingers, the XL also includes a fatter pen-sized stylus.

Functionality wise, it's all pretty much identical to the DSi. Boot-up speeds seem identical, menus the same.

The return of the glossy finish on the top of the console is a welcome one, even if it is more fingerprint prone than the matt finish of the DSi. While the underside of the XL has a rough, matt finish that provides more grip than any previous DS.

And you'll need that grip when you're holding the machine's weightier bulk in mid-air, without the support of a flat surface. We also noticed that the screen hinge has two stop points - one slightly more closed than the standard open position, presumably for a better angle of the top screen when you place the console on a flat surface.

So it's as well-built and solid as you'd expect from Nintendo. But, for the first time since the original DS launched, it's not an essential upgrade.

Whether or not you should buy a DSi XL really depends on how you use your DS - if you tend not to carry it out with you, and only ever tend to use it at home, then the DSi XL is the better choice - if only for the stunning screen size. Games are easier to play and stylus use will be more accurate.

But for its sheer size and increased weight, you wouldn't want this in your pocket or handbag. For gaming on the go, The standard DSi is far more convenient and apart from the smaller screens, does the job just as well in all other areas.

// Overview
Gorgeous screens, louder sounds and easier stylus accuracy. A solid update, but mobile players should stick with the DSi.
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You forgot to mention if this has a GBA port.

I'd like to get a white one. I always get white ones so I can doodle some sharpie artwork on them. Smile
PMIKE5 on 23 Nov '09
A battery life comparison would have been helpful.

Does bigger screens and louder speakers mean loss in battery life?

Or does it have a larger capacity battery?
Herr_Lowe on 23 Nov '09
It has longer batttery life and no GBA port.
Yes I know it's for the old people, but surely I am not wrong in saying that it looks like a childs pack lunch box.

Dairylea Sarnies ftw!

I bet when you opened that chunky boy, it looked like Link trying to open a chest.
Mark240473 on 24 Nov '09
Mark do me favour and shut your f**king Sony loving mouth! Twisted Evil
BYDO on 24 Nov '09
Mark do me favour and shut your f**king Sony loving mouth! Twisted Evil

I can't. I've got 3 sixasis rammed in there at the minute.

Good luck trying to fit lardyboy in your gob.

Saying that, I'd probably try soap and water first.
Mark240473 on 24 Nov '09
and dont forget the PSP go thats rammed up your bottom too!
BYDO on 24 Nov '09
and dont forget the PSP go thats rammed up your bottom too!

Okay I won't. Thanks. I didn't notice it was there, to be honest. It was Stringer who found it whilst he was raiding the chocy box.
Mark240473 on 24 Nov '09
Do we have any figures for battery life?

I was put off the DSi by the drop in battery life from the lite. Smile
jimdigby on 24 Nov '09
there was an article over at kotaku i think where they stated how much longer the battery life was. I think it was 3 hours but don't quote me.

Come on Mark, remember when we were young and all handhleds were twice the size of the xl. Beauts like the Game gear with its 6 batteries that lastest half an hour or the original gameboy which was equally brick sized and awesome in equal parts.

But really its just that bitter sony fanboy coming out, isn't it.

You can't understand why people would rather buy a new version of the dsi. with a larger screen, than a stripped down version of the psp.

I think it might have something to do with nintendo adding features rather than taking them away,
Anyone think that these new handheld 'upgrades' are a bit rubbish? Nintendo, here, have taken the most chic, stylish and well loved handheld potentially ever and turned it into... well, a brick. The PSP Go's failings don't even need mentioning. That was just an idea that was thoroughly http://i611.photobucket.com/albums/tt192/lordirongut/sonyd.png

The DSi and PSP 3000 win over these two in almost every respect imo.
lordirongut on 24 Nov '09
Anyone think that these new handheld 'upgrades' are a bit rubbish?

A BIT rubbish??? They are a LOT rubbish.
What I find even more astounding is that folks out there consider them 'must have purchases'... Yeesh - more money than sense me thinks.
_Marty_ on 25 Nov '09
I am tempted because the DS lite gives my giant hands cramp. Although after you say the buttons are still close together I'm thinking there may actually not be much improvement... Might just have to stick with the original DS brick.
Narciciss on 27 Nov '09
money for old s**te
plonkman on 2 Dec '09
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