Nintendo DSi: Is it worth your money?

Shane Kaiser

Since Nintendo first hit the video game scene in the early ’80s with the Game & Watch and the Nintendo Entertainment System, it has always attempted to make new and innovative game systems and peripherals.

While most of these innovative gadgets are extremely successful, as seen with the motion sensitive controller for the Nintendo Wii, other gadgets have not been well received, such as the Nintendo Virtual Boy released in 1995.

The most recent addition to Nintendo’s list of systems is the portable Nintendo DSi.

Ever since Nintendo released the GameBoy in 1989, they have dominated the handheld gaming market with extensive game libraries and excellent battery life, which most other handhelds lacked. Like most other portable systems made by Nintendo, the DSi is just a slightly upgraded version of the previous system, the DS Lite.

While they upgraded and added several new features, they also eliminated some aspects of the DS Lite that really made the DS Lite an excellent console.

Weight and Dimensions:

In comparison to the DS Lite, the DSi is slightly longer and wider in order to feature quarter of an inch bigger screens on the inside.

In addition to making the screens bigger, they made it 12 percent thinner and 4 grams lighter, so that it can fit into your pocket more easily. They also made the stylus 0.2 inches longer for convenience.

Battery Life:

One of the largest drawbacks to the DSi is its battery life. Since the DSi made its screen bigger, the battery life has been significantly reduced.

Previously, the DS Lite got about and 15 to 19 hours on the lowest brightness and 5 to 8 hours on the highest brightness, but now the DSi gets 9 to 14 hours on the lowest brightness and only 3 to 4 hours on the highest brightness.

Despite the reduced battery life, the battery can now be fully charged in 2.5 hours, when it previously took 3 hours. All portable consoles need to have a good battery life and 3 to 4 hours impractical.


When looking at the DSi the first thing one notice is the addition of two built-in cameras, one on the outside and one on the inside hinge. While it is a nice addition, the cameras take pictures at unimpressive 0.3 megapixels, which is less than most cell phone cameras on the market.

One may also notice that the power button was moved to the inside face of the console next to the lower screen. They replaced the power switch with SD memory card slot that can hold up 32 GB of memory. This is a very nice addition, which will enable some of the new software features added to the DS.

In addition the SD memory card slot, they added 256 MB of built in flash memory and increased the RAM to 16 MB, four times greater than the DS Lite.

The biggest change they made was the eliminating of the GameBoy Advanced (GBA) slot, located at the bottom of the console.

This slot made the DS Lite backwards compatible with all GBA games and was necessary in order to play Guitar Hero: On Tour.

This was a major shock, because the backwards compatibility has always made Nintendo’s handheld systems very appealing. Now that they took out the GBA slot, you will only be able to play DS games, which is very disappointing.


The greatest changes and the biggest selling point for the DSi is the features Nintendo added to its interface.

The first thing one will notice when you first turn on the system is a sleek new interface that features all of the same features that the DS Lite had, like Picto Chat, plus a few new features like a web browser for the internal wireless card, an image manipulation program, and a music player called “Nintendo DSi Sound.”

The image manipulation program is a cool feature because you can take pictures with the built-in cameras, play with the image, save it to the built in flash memory and then send it to your Wii or other friends with a DSi using Picto Chat.

The music player sounds like a great idea because it allows one to upload or record music and save it to the memory, but the system only supports audio files in the AAC format. This means that any mp3s you would want to put on the DSi would need to first be converted into AAC.

The biggest change Nintendo made is the addition of “DS Ware” games that can be saved to the flash memory, or a SD memory card. These DS ware games are similar to how the Wii Ware games work on the Nintendo Wii. It allows one to buy classic and original games from the “DSi Shop” and download them directly onto the memory of the console.

It appears to me that Nintendo took out the GBA slot to encourage DSi owners to buy the classic games from the DSi Shop instead of just playing the classic games they already own for GBA.

Final Thoughts:

The Nintendo DSi is a very impressive portable device with many new features that have never been seen on a handheld before.

While Nintendo added many new and innovative features, I do not think it is worth the investment if you already have a Nintendo DS because you will not be able to play any of your GBA games and especially because they increased the price by $40 to $170.

If you do not already have a DS, you may want to consider purchasing one, but I would be wary because of the high price tag.