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NDS Lite Review

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From computer only related reviews ... to a portable game console review. I know that this isn't what you guys usually get from visiting my website but is just something that I really wanted to share with the folks, especially to those who are living here in our country.
The Nintendo DS has always and will probably remain compared with the Sony PSP. Both have their pros and cons (which I will try to discuss later) but there are quite a number of things that made me very satisfied in purchasing a less graphically ... or to be exact less powerful NDS console. And although both of them are already around 3yrs old, it's still not too late to grab any one of those two consoles now in my opinion.
Lets begin shall we? ...

Let's start with a brief history ...
Around 2 years after the release of the original Nintendo DS ... the DS Lite was born with the addition of the following advantages:
  • Approx 20% lighter than the DS
  • Approx 40% less volume than the DS
  • Longer battery life
  • Brighter and sharper LCD screen with 4 brightness levels
  • Slightly larger stylus
  • More colors are available
  • Sturdier top hinge
  • Relocation of buttons and mic for better functionality and easier access
  • GBA slot now has a filler to prevent dust from getting in the port
  • etc

Those are quite a hefty amount of improvements if you ask me and I haven't even mentioned the the Lite version without a doubt looks better than the original DS.


By default, NDS is only capable of doing limited amount of things:

  • Playing games (duh?!) with backward GBA compatibility
  • Wireless multiplayer (up to 16 players)
  • Single cartridge local multiplayer capability
  • Pictochat
  • Wi-Fi support
  • Stereo and Virtual Surround sound
  • Touch Screen capability (bottom screen only)
  • Mic for voice chat and interactive gaming control
  • Vertical screen gaming orientation


Additional stuff can be done with the help of add-ons and accessories from Nintendo like:

  • Vibration effects (Rumble Pack)
  • MP3 playback (MP3 Player)
  • Net Surfing (Nintendo Browser)
  • In-game Voice Chat (DS Headset - also possible with the built-in mic)
  • Taking pictures (DS Camera - announced but is currently unavailable - 3rd party however is already out)
  • etc


With the help of 3rd party devices and developers, the NDS can now also do the following things:

  • Play audio and video
  • Read and edit ebooks
  • Act as an organizer (like a stripped down version of a PDA)
  • Picture editor/creator/viewer (with the use of the stylus)
  • Change wallpaper and themes
  • etc

And that is just to name a few. As new add-ons, accessories, and softwares continue to come out ... you'll be amazed how much you can do with the said device.

**I will be mentioning my recommended 3rd party accessories later on this article.


The Looks: 9

This is the subjective part of my review but is something that I still need to mention. In my opinion, the NDS Lite looks better in an elegant kind of way when compared to the PSP. Don't get me wrong though, the PSP in its own respect looks really good. It is a good looking "console" in a very obvious kind of way because it uses the typical looks of a portable console. The screen, gamepad and stuff are all displayed in front of the said device while the NDS can be easily mistaken (by those who are not familiar with the device) as a small laptop (or even a bulky smartphone) thanks to its clamshell form factor.

The top or back LCD cover is where the embossed NDS logo is at (where the two squares represent the DS's dual-screen). It's also the part that is the most glossy and at the same time most dirty due primarily because its a fingerprint magnet. It's really not that big of a deal because its a known issue with most devices using a glossy finish.

Right in front of the device you'll find (from left-to-right) the volume control slider, the headphone jack, and the DS headset port. To the right is where the power slider is at. While the rear (from left-to-right) houses the wrist strap hole, slot 1 (for games cartridges), power port, and the left and right shoulder buttons. The stylus on the other hand can be found on the bottom right portion of the device.

When you open the device up you'll be greeted with its dual 3" screen (the bottom screen is the touch sensitive one). The speakers are located at the side of the top screen while the mic is right on the hinge at the center of the device. Down at the bottom we have the usual directional pad on the left while the buttons are on the right.

Brain Age DS Lite Package

The DS Lite comes in a hefty amount of single-tone colors. But depending on your region, you might be lucky enough to be able to grab one of those limited edition Lites that features unique color/tone with logos imprinted on the top cover. Most of 'em comes in packaged with a game while some added up a leather case like this picture posted in 1up's website. This is a DS lite that is packaged with "Brain Age". It does not only include the only (as far as I know) two-tone DS Lite available in the market (same with what I have and was released originally only in Japan and Korea) but as well as a really cool looking (although a bit girly) leather case. In its defense however, the case looks really darn good when closed. 
If only this device is as attractive when open as it is closed, then I could have given it a perfect score of 10. I really can't put my finger on what's missing but the device looks pretty bland when opened ... especially the black color one.
Making the DS Lite look more elegant however is a pretty easy (and cheap) thing to do. Same goes with taking care of its somewhat scratch sensitive top cover. Which I will be discussing later on this article.

Graphics / Display: 8
Graphics quality is one of the weakness (if not the main weakness) of this device. Comparing it to the PSP is going to be a joke and something not even worth mentioning. So if you're looking for a handheld game console that can bring out good looking games as your home console or PC can, this device is going to be nothing but a huge disappointment.

Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights

To be fair, there are quite a good amount of games that looks good (at best) with this device: Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, Dementium, Juiced 2, Nanostray, Nintendogs, Ultimate MK3, Bleach, etc. Non of the games I mentioned will blow anyone away but they're pretty acceptable for a device that is not focused on graphics quality.
I could have given the device a much lower score but went against doing so thanks to its dual-screen. Although the PSP has a huge widescreen LCD, the NDS makes it up with two smaller sized screens w/c proves to be very useful when playing games. Having two screens enables you to view game information, maps, weapons/items list, etc on the other screen while having the game displayed on the other. And to be honest, I couldn't believe why its only now that a game console maker has thought of this bright idea when the handheld market has been selling portables for decades now.
Screen quality wise the DS sports a 256x192 screen resolution. Which pretty much explain why most games are a bit on the pixelated side. The brightness however is really good (better than PSP), same can be said with the sharpness and color quality ... and that applies with both of the screens.
Sound Quality: 8.5
It's pretty easy to rate the sound capabilities of the DS as long as you do not expect too much out of its little built-in speakers. The quality in my opinion is really solid and although some games may have sound volume issues ... 9 out of 10 of your games should run fine w/o issues even without having to max out the volume setting of the device.
Some games have the option to turn on the DS's Virtual Surround Sound feature which is surprisingly very impressive. It's really hard to describe how a device whose speakers are sitting almost right next to each other. But believe me ... it works because I can definitely pinpoint the direction of the sound (left or right) with games that carry the said Vitual Surround feature.
The only thing that kept me from giving the device at least a rating of 9 in this category is the sound quality of some games. Given that the DS cartridge only has a limited capacity, some game developers were forced to reduce the sound quality in exchange for more video, music, or speech in the game. Most games however uses text to save space to keep the audio quality on the up side.

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