The Nintendo DS Lite Device

The DS in Nintendo DS stands for Dual Screen. As shown in Figure 3, the clamshell-type case opens to reveal two screens: a regular color LCD screen on the upper portion and a color LCD touch screen on the bottom. The two screens work together to display information and coordinate game play. Often the upper screen is used to give information and an overview of the game. The lower touch screen is where you interact with the game and/or the characters with the included stylus.

One of the big pluses of this device is that both screens are bright and clear. The screen brightness can be adjusted to save on battery power, but the battery is so long lasting that most people just keep it on the brightest setting. Setting the brightness is done from the main screen which appears at startup which is shown in Figure 3. At this screen you can also set the date and time, set alarms, calibrate the screen, and enter personal information. You can also play a built-in game called Pictochat that allows you to send pictures and messages to other Nintendo DS users within range of your DS.

Nintendo DS Lite Ice Blue Pack ReviewFigure 3: The dual screens.

Besides the ingenious use of the touch screen, many games take advantage of the Nintendo DS’s microphone jack. The microphone is the small hole seen in Figure 3 on the hinge between the upper and lower screen. The microphone is used differently in different games. In one game you can blow into the microphone to blow out the candles on a birthday cake. In another, you blow into the microphone to blow bubbles when the bubble maker is on the screen. This is all very easy and very intuitive.The Nintendo Ds also has stereo speakers that can be seen in Figure 3. The sound for each speaker comes from the six holes on the sides of the upper screen. The sound quality is quite good.

Figure 3 also shows several control buttons. To the left of the lower screen is a four-sided toggle. To the right are the A,B,X, and Y buttons. Below that are the Start and the Select buttons. Figure 4 shows two additional buttons as the two corners at the top of the device are also depressible. Depending on the game, these buttons control different aspects of the game. However, some games can be played using only the stylus and the touch screen.

With any device that has a small detachable part, like the DS’ stylus, you always run the risk of losing it. However, Nintendo covers that by having a convenient place to store the stylus right in the device itself. As shown in Figure 5, the stylus completely disappears into the right side of the device next to the on/off slider. Yet, a small depression in the bottom of the device allows you to easily find the stylus and slide it out of its hideaway. Looking at the bottom of the device in Figure 4 you can see the stylus in a slightly protruding position on the left side. The bottom shows the protruding placeholder for the GameBoy Advance cartridges. When this is pushed in, it looks like part of the device. It can also be removed and GameBoy cartridges can be inserted. You can play all of the old GameBoy Advanced cartridges on the DS, but they don’t take advantage of the touch screen.

Nintendo DS Lite Ice Blue Pack ReviewFigure 4: The bottom of the device.

Nintendo DS Lite Ice Blue Pack ReviewFigure 5: The right side of the DS Lite.

The Nintendo DS has a rechargeable battery that last about ten hours. The battery is replaceable and can be accessed by the large door on the right in Figure 4. The charging cable, has a plug that folds flat for compact storage. You can see the charging port that the cable plugs into on the left side of the back of the DS in Figure 6. You can also see the slot that holds the DS game cartridge and two holes that can be used to attach a wrist strap. Figure 6 also shows the two corner buttons marked “L” and “R” at the top that we mentioned earlier and saw from the bottom in Figure 4.

Nintendo DS Lite Ice Blue Pack ReviewFigure 6: The back of the DS Lite.

In Figure 7, you can see (from left to right), the volume slider, the area for the Game Boy Advance cartridges, and the headset port. This port accepts proprietary Nintendo headsets, but it will also accommodate standard headsets and ear buds like those that come with an iPod. The sound is quite good.

Nintendo DS Lite Ice Blue Pack ReviewFigure 7: The front of the DS Lite.

The Nintendo DS comes with wireless capabilities so you can send notes, drawings, and even game characters to other DS users. For instance, in the popular Nintendogs game, you can invite the dogs from other nearby Nintendog players to play on your device. You can trade dog breeds and send presents to visiting dogs. Some games allow multiple users to play multiplayer games using just one Nintendo DS game card, others require that each DS have the same game cartridge installed.

You can also play some games with others through a Wi-Fi connection. You simply exchange your game code with a friend to play over the Internet, or join other players on the Web.

Sandy Berger, respected computer authority, journalist, media guest, speaker, and author, has more than three decades of experience as a computer and technology expert. Her eight books include: How to Have a Meaningful Relationship with Your Computer, Your Official Grown-up's Guide to AOL and the Internet, Cyber Savers –Tips & Tricks for Today’s Drowning Computer Users, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Better Living through Technology, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to the Internet, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Gadgets & Gizmos, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Health & Wellness, and Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Travel. Sandy’s newspaper column, magazine articles, feature stories, product reviews, and computer tips can be found at her website, Compu-KISS.