A bigger, heavier and fatter Nintendo DSi for large-handed, clumsy people
Nintendo has gone against the grain again with the DSi XL, binning 30 years of progress in shrinking gadgets and making 2009's DSi wider, deeper and heavier.
The end result is a DS that feels like a solid, prestigious gadget, rather than the plasticky models of old.
The DSi XL's case has a matt base, giving it a pleasantly rough feel in the hand, while the top lid is smooth, blemished only by the hole for the machine's outward-facing second camera. It looks and feels great.
New shell, 2005 specs
The tech underneath is the same as the old DSi: two screens – one for display, the bottom one touchable for poking buttons and games – twin 0.3MP cameras, plus an SD card slot for photo and game storage space. Photos are low-res, but so is the DSi XL's screen. It's a toy, not a Canon DSLR.
Nintendo's software features camera settings and picture warping toys, a music player and recorder, Pictochat, a dictionary and browser. Plus there's a second, fatter stylus in the box to make two-player gaming easier. If you bought a DSi in 2009, you won't be surprised by any of it.
Super-slow internet access
The DSi XL's Opera-based browser starts up fast and text input, when done with a stylus, is quicker and easier than prodding away at a smartphone with a finger.
If you're used to using a phone as your in-bed, quick-go-on-the-internet machine, you'll find the DSi XL's browser a joy to operate … at first.
But while the likes of the iPhone and other smartphones are catching the DS when it comes to gaming, the DSi XL simply doesn't have enough oomph to compete with them as a web toy.
Sites limp into view slowly and there's no support for Flash-powered ones like YouTube – the DSI XL's web browser is unlikely to see much action.
Review continues after the break
Navigating the online DSi shop is equally slow, but at least you're able to start spending your 1,000 free ‘Nintendo points’ on downloadable extras and games without having to register an account.
If you can't be bothered ploughing through the shop, there's a generously sized Brain Training demo pre-installed, letting you jump straight into Nintendo's casual gaming dream world.
The same, but bigger
The newer, bigger screens do indeed make DS games look bright and refreshed, although the clearer view leaves Nintendo's low-res text and menus appearing rather blotchy and basic.
On the upside, DSi XL has a longer-lasting battery – Nintendo claims 13 hours from one charge if you're careful with brightness settings, and we've got a weekend of Brain Training behind us and half a battery left as evidence.
The DSi XL is a nice, refined DS, but don't expect any innovations aside from design tweaks. It is, after all, only a DSi with a bigger screen on it.
Nintendo DSi XL review
Big-handed, short-sighted gamers of the world rejoice. Everyone else – shrug and stick with your old DS