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Wednesday, July 12, 2006 

Hands-On With the DS Lite

It certainly feels as if everyone and their mother out there in the blogging world already got their grubby hands on a DS Lite, so we feel as if we're the last ones who were invited to the party. Regardless, like our parents are always apt to say, "everyone else ain't [us]," so here are our own personal impressions, courtesy of djkibblesnbits.

From the moment you take the handheld out the box, you realize that this version of the DS is a completely different animal from the first one. While the original DS (hereby forever known as the Clunk) felt kind of cheap and flimsy, the Lite's springy buttons dramatically improve the feel of the handheld. The power button has been moved to the right side of the case (no more accidently turning off the system with your thumb), and the microphone has been moved above the bottom screen, right at the joint where the Lite folds down. Based on looks alone, the Lite's iPod-ish look gives it that "high-tech" look that the Clunk lacked, especially when comparing it to the once superior-looking Sony PSP. At the same time, while the Lite has a shiny finish like the PSPs, for whatever reason, the Lite does not feel nearly as fragile and sensitive as the Sony handheld. Still, you wouldn't want to shove this baby in the same pocket as your car keys or something. (Hell, yes, you CAN put it in your pocket, unlike both the PSP and the Clunk!) It may not be priority #1 with the Lite, but I would suggest that you get yourself a sleek little case that can match the style and grace of the oh-so wonderful looking Lite.

Outside of the look, the biggest improvement is the backlighting on the two screens, which makes the light about 20-40% brighter than the Clunk. Trust me when I say that this new backlight makes gaming on the DS soooo much better. You pop in any game that you might have played on the Clunk, and I'm telling you, you're going to see colors and textures that you never thought were programmed into the game to begin with. Who knew a little more backlighting could make that much of a difference?

There's a huge difference in backlighting...

The battery life on the Lite is not as good as the Clunk's (about 8 hrs), but it really isn't that big of a difference from the original's 10 hr lifespan. That's still about 2-3 times better than the power-hog PSP's paltry battery life. The Lite's charger input is smaller than the Clunk's original, Firewire-like input, so, you're not going to be able to use the old charger for the new system.

Hmm...I see where the inspiration came from

Sound-wise, the two systems are about the same. Both have normal headphone ports, so you don't have to go and buy special headphones for the DS Lite, which is a good thing.

Because the Lite has been reduced in size, one of the things that was sacrificed was the size of the GBA port. Now, when you stick your GBA games into the DS Lite, the cart sticks out instead of fitting snugly into the handheld's shell. It's not unlike the way original GB carts stuck out of the GBA SP. The cool factor dies down a little bit when you have a cart sticking out on the bottom, but it's not that bad. And when you don't have a GBA cart to cover the bottom port, NIntendo has kindly provided us with a port cover that goes perfectly with the DS Lite. No more worrying about dust getting into the GBA port, as you did with the Clunk.

Overall, the DS Lite is an incredible revision, and certainly worthy of a purchase, should you already own the Clunk. I'm telling you, once you play games on the Lite, you can't go back to playing games on the original. And at $129, you're not paying anymore than what the Clunk costs, so go ahead and live a little.

And if you don't have a DS, period, well, you certainly can't go wrong with jumping on the bandwagon, beginning with the DS Lite. As far as other colors are concerned, currently, only the polar white version is available in the US, but there are other colors available in other countries that you could import. And given the fact that the DS is not region-coded, you can buy a DS anywhere in the world and play a game from any region.

So what you waiting for? Go get one!