updated 07:40 am EDT, Thu October 2, 2008
Nintendo this morning carried on a transformation of the DS handheld into a full-fledged media device with the DSi. The update to the once gaming-only system adds an SD card slot and 512MB of internal memory that are both key to significantly expanded features that put it into closer contention with the iPod touch and other media devices with gaming as a central feature. An outer three-megapixel camera and inner VGA (0.3 megapixels) camera that can respectively be used to snap outside photos or personal portraits; built-in image apps and games alike can use the feature.
The reworked console also has access to a free web browser to exploit the Wi-Fi that has existed since the original DS; a similarly ready music player lets owners carry as many songs as free memory allows. Either is helped by larger 3.25-inch screens (up from three inches), while the system as a whole is more pocketable due to the absence of the legacy Game Boy Advance slot and a resulting slim-down from 0.85 inches to 0.74 inches.
Key to the launch is a new, expanded online store known as the DSi Shop. Similar to the Wii's own store, the service will use a Nintendo Points system for owners to buy apps, games and other unspecified material directly from the game system. Every DSi through March 2010 will come with 1,000 points to give users immediate access to a software library, Nintendo says.
The system will be available on November 1st in Japan and will ship in matte black and white versions for the equivalent of $179. No details have yet surfaced for a North American launch, though Nintendo often brings console updates overseas within a few months of their original versions. The company also doesn't plan to discontinue the DS Lite, which costs less and also supports older games.
In addition to the DSi, Nintendo has also revealed that the Wii will now have significantly expanded storage by loosening restrictions on the SD card slot to let cards hold games and downloadable content from the console's online store in addition to photos and other less secure data. The update should arrive in the spring. [via Impress]