Comparing the Three DS Versions

Figure 3 compares the original Nintendo DS in silver, a Nintendo DS Lite in black and the new DSi in blue. As you can see the DS Lite and the DSi are considerably smaller than the original DS. Yet the DS Lite and the DSi are similarly sized, with the DSi only slightly larger than the DS Lite. The DSi is 5 25/64" x 2 61/64" x 3/4" (13.7 x 7.49 x 1.89 cm). The DS Lite is 5 15/64" x 2 29/32" x 27/32" (13.3 x 7.39 x 2.15 cm). The two units are approximately the same weight at about 7.5 oz (214 g). By the way, we’ve already posted a review of Nintendo DS Lite, and you may want to check it out.

Nintendo DSi ReviewFigure 3: The Nintendo DS, DS Lite and DSi.

Even though it is similar in size, the DSi is slightly thinner and feels better in the hand. Nintendo also has given the DSi a matte finish compared to the shiny DS Lite. This makes the DSi a little easier to grip and also eliminates all of the smudges and fingerprints that constantly appeared on the DS Lite.

The size of both screens has been increased from 3” (diagonal) in the DS Lite to 3.25” in the DSi. As shown in Figure 4, this is only a slight increase, but it does make a difference when game playing.

As you can also see in Figure 4, the main layout of the controls remains the same, with only slight adjustment to the hardware, which will be covered in the next section.

Nintendo DSi ReviewFigure 4: DS Lite and DSi screens.

The biggest change in the DSi is the addition of two cameras, support for a removable storage card, and added audio capabilities, which we will discuss in the next section. In order to incorporate these new capabilities in a similar-sized unit, Nintendo removed the GameBoy Advanced cartridge slot. The GameBoy was Nintendo’s main gaming device previous to the Nintendo DS. So where you can play GameBoy cartridges on the Nintento Lite, you cannot do so in the DSi. If you have a lot of GameBoy games, this may be a reason not to upgrade to the DSi. However, we do not fault Nintendo for removing the compatibility with older games. As technology improves, we sometimes have to move on and make way for the new.

Nintendo has implemented a more powerful chip in the DSi. It has an ARM9E CPU clocked at 133 MHz, as compared to the ARM9 at 66 MHz in the DS Lite.

As one might expect, because of the cameras and other new features, the DSi battery does not last quite as long as the battery in the DS Lite. However, Nintendo still rates it at 9-14 hours at the lowest brightness, 8-12 hours at low brightness, 6-9 hours at medium brightness, 4-6 hours at high brightness, and 3-4 hours at the highest brightness. This is still adequate to get a full day of gaming for most users. As in the DS Lite, the battery is user-replaceable and can be removed by unscrewing two screws on the bottom of the device, shown in Figure 5.

Nintendo DSi ReviewFigure 5: The bottom of the DSi.


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.