Nintendo DS

Nintendo DS

Nintendo's hot hand held to get you by 'til Evolution

Nintendo's real next- generation handheld gaming system is to be called Nintendo GameBoy Evolution. The Nintendo DS was released in December 2004, but was really a side project they had been working on for some time. The decision to finally release it coincided with the release of the Sony PSP, possibly to keep their name in contention with the handheld market.

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While not as technically sophisticated as the PSP, the DS only costs about $150. Originally, DS was priced to be about half the projected price of PSP until Sony reduced PSP's price (to about $200-$250) in a move likely aimed at taking a slash at Nintendo. Nintendo DS could be a perfect choice of handhelds for the gamer on a budget, or at least to tie one over until the Nintendo ReEvolution is finally released.

Hardware Highlights
Core Main Processor ARM946E-S 67MHz
4MB RAM
256x192 pixel LCD Display
262,144 colors
Wireless Communication using 802.11 Protocol
16 Channel ADPCM/PCM sound with build in stereo speakers

DS stands for Dual Screen (although Nintendo DS is still a proper name). The unit has a main gaming screen then a second screen over top to display additional information about the game being played. That secondary screen is also touch sensitive and can be controlled by your fingertips or using the provided stylus, just like a Palm Pilot. The extra touch screen can be used as an additional gaming input for certain games written to take advantage of the feature.

Another unique feature of the Nintendo DS is the voice recognition capabilities, which can also be used as a separate input to issue voice commands in game. The voice capabilities also turns the Nintendo DS into an internet voice communicator when players are linked over the internet using its wireless LAN capabilities. 802.11 wireless networking can link players with an available wireless network. Up to 16 players can link up for a wi-fi multiplayer gaming experience. Chat software allows the DS handheld users to keep in touch over the internet where available on the local wireless network. They can use the chat software to speak as well as transmit text and even drawings using the stylus on the second screen. As sophisticated as the new device by Nintendo is, it's also backward compatible to the older GameBoy Advance games.

Despite its status as a second- tier platform to their own top- shelf future product dubbed; Evolution, the new game system by Nintendo makes a formidable player in the handheld games arena. With Nintendo's considerable brand recognition gamers will have familiar titles available in the palm of their hand.

Nintendo DS makes the perfect upgrade for mobile gamers who were children of the 90's looking for a games system that has grown up with them. Imagine being able to play multiplayer games at someone's house with a wireless router setup. Just connect to the LAN using DS's wi-fi capabilities and then play away, getting right into the faces of your opponents without the need for any cables.

Remote gaming is no problem, since DS's a wireless network with internet capabilities lets you can play with your friends online. You can even use games that take advantage of the DS voice abilities to trash- talk noobs, even when you're not close enough to get in their face.