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Friday, August 5, 2011

Nintendo 3DS reviewed

I recently bought my son Fletcher a Nintendo 3DS for his 11th birthday, which he’d been wanting for a while. He had the original DS, DS Lite, DSi and was ready to move up to Nintendo’s next big – er, little – gaming device. So after using it for a few weeks, I asked him if he’d like to write a review for it and share it on my Thingamajigs blog. Fletcher is wise beyond his years and is a great communicator so I knew he would excel at the task. And that he did.

Below is the review he wrote on the Nintendo 3DS with VERY little help from me. So, if you’ve ever wondered how a review would read written straight from the mind of an 11-year-old – or if you haven’t – here’s your chance. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. He never ceases to amaze me.

Software: (B+)
The 3DS interface has been upgraded quite a bit from the original DSi, as the DSi was to the original DS. The 3DS’s interface makes it simple to find what you’re looking for. Having a choice of stylus, touch screen, buttons in any combination allows each user to have his/her own unique experience.

The software that comes with each 3DS includes a camera, voice recorder, activity log (with pedometer to track your steps and play time), Mii Maker, StreetPass Mii Plaza, Face Raiders game, augmented reality games, Web browser (with update), but no email application.

As for selection of retail games, options on the 3DS are very limited right now. Some of the publishers for the 3DS seem to be holding off, waiting for 3DS’s sales to rise. But that could soon change. Analysts predict that an Aug. 12 price drop from $249 to $169 announced by Nintendo would help support sales. The $249 price tag seems to have scared off some potential buyers as only 194,000 units were sold in April, according to MarketWatch, compared to 400,000 units sold the first week it was available in the U.S.

Hardware: (A-)
The dual screen has been a staple of the DS, but has been around since the Game & Watch era. The beauty of this screen is the 3D (three-dimensional) effect, hence the name 3DS. The unit has three cameras: one front-facing and two rear-facing. The rear cameras are used to take 3D photos. The quality is comparable to the DSi – having a resolution of only .3 megapixels (or 640 X 480 pixels) on all cameras. The front camera is for self portraits (in 2D only). And speaking of 3D, quality varies from game to game. The effect is huge in some games, while in others, the 3D just helps with depth perception, but overall it works pretty amazingly.

The processor has been upgraded from the DSi and will run all original games at the intended frame rate. But the 3DS has the impressive ability to run graphics comparable to consoles such as the PlayStation 2 or the GameCube. The hinge is similar to the DS Lite, which could cause similar problems some users had with the top screen tearing apart from the unit.

Sound: (A-)
The quality of sound on the 3DS is very clear. The two built-in speakers are sufficient under normal circumstances or in a quiet room, but you may need to plug in headphones in a noisy environment. There is no mute button on the 3DS, but there is a volume slider on the bottom left of the device.

Connectivity: (B+)
The 3DS has several connection options, including an 1/8-inch headphone jack, power adapter jack, an SD card slot (2 GB card included) and a connector for a strap, similar to those used on Wii remotes. But, there’s no USB jack or wired Internet options. The 3DS has built-in Wi-Fi with 802.11b/g, which is not the fastest wireless, but is sufficient for its purpose. There is also a slider on the bottom right of the unit, which can be used to easily turn Wi-Fi on or off. The Web browser, which came with an update on June 6, is simple, but easy. There’s no Flash, tabbed browsing or HTML 5, but it is sufficient for everyday Web browsing.

The 3DS also has features called StreetPass and SpotPass. StreetPass allows you to interact with other 3DS users who may be walking past by giving you the option to be teammates in games or receive special items or characters from the other user. SpotPass allows you to receive notifications about games, such as DLC (downloadable content) features or game updates.

Overall grade: (A-)
Well, that's it. Overall, I would definitely recommend the 3DS, but if you're thinking of buying, you might want to wait until Aug. 12, when the price will drop from $249 to $169. 
BTW Dad, can I do more of these reviews in the future?