The Nintendo DSi (ニンテンドーDSi, Nintendō DSi?) is a handheld game system created by Nintendo and launched in 2008 and 2009 in Japan, North America, PAL territories, and other regions. It is the third iteration of the Nintendo DS, and its primary market rival is Sony's PlayStation Portable. A larger model, entitled Nintendo DSi XL, was launched in 2009 and 2010 in the aforementioned regions.
Development of the DSi began in late 2006, and it was unveiled during an October 2008 Nintendo conference in Tokyo. Consumer demand convinced Nintendo to produce a slimmer handheld with larger screens than the DS Lite. Consequently, Nintendo removed the Game Boy Advance (GBA) cartridge slot to ensure durability. While the DSi's design is similar to that of the DS Lite, it features two digital cameras, supports internal and external content storage, and connects to an online store called the Nintendo DSi Shop. This new functionality was intended to facilitate personalization, so as to encourage each member of a household to purchase an individual DSi.
Reviewers were generally positive in their reception of the Nintendo DSi; although they decried the console's lack of exclusive software and removal of the GBA cartridge slot, its added functionality caused many to recommend it to those who did not purchase previous DS models. Many critics were disappointed with the DSi's camera's limited resolution, but thought they were adequate for the handheld's screens. CNET and PC World considered the DSi Shop to be the largest buying incentive for current DS owners. Critics believed the DSi XL was not an essential upgrade. GamePro and Wired UK thought that its larger screens revitalized Nintendo DS games.
Development of the Nintendo DSi began at the end of 2006, around the time of the Wii's release. Following instructions from his supervisor, Masato Kuwahara of Nintendo's Engineering Department started development of the project. Kuwahara reported that his team had difficulty determining the potential market for the handheld during the design process; he said of their goal, "We have to be able to sell the console on its own. It also has to be able to meld into the already-existing DS market." The console's digital cameras were considered early in development: Nintendo president and Chief Executive Officer Satoru Iwata described the touchscreen as the Nintendo DS's sense of touch, and the microphone as its "ears"; a co-worker suggested that it should have "eyes". Due to consumer demand, Nintendo also improved its audio and made the handheld slimmer with larger screens compared to the Nintendo DS Lite. However, in order to improve portability without sacrificing durability, the GBA cartridge slot present on earlier models was removed. To compensate, Nintendo continued to support the DS Lite as long as there was consumer demand for it. Kuwahara discussed DSi's creation at the 2009 Game Developers Conference.The DSi's original design included two DS game card slots, due to demand from both fan communities and Nintendo employees, which consequently made the design considerably larger. Kuwahara said of the console's in-company unveiling in October 2007 that "the response wasn’t that great, and, ... we’d sort of been expecting that." The second game card slot was removed, which made the handheld approximately 0.12 inches (3 mm) slimmer. Yui Ehara, designer of the DS Lite and DSi's casing, advocated to change the six speaker apertures, as their circular perforations were redundant to the rest of the handheld's interface. He believed that this alteration also signaled a clearer distinction between the DSi and its predecessors while keeping the unit "neat" and "simple". Ehara hoped the DSi's added features would not interfere with his desired iconic image of the Nintendo DS product line: two rectangles, one on top of the other, with each half containing another rectangle inside. This model was publicly revealed at the October 2008 Nintendo Conference in Tokyo, along with its Japanese price and release date. While the DS product line's worldwide yearly sales figures had consistently surpassed those of its primary market rival, Sony's PlayStation Portable, demand for it in Japan was decreasing; Nintendo's launch of the DSi was meant to stimulate sales. The company was less concerned with releasing the DSi in other territories, where market demand for the DS Lite remained high.
Development of a large DS Lite model in 2007 eventually became the DSi XL (known in Japan as the Nintendo DSi LL (ニンテンドーDSi LL, Nintendō DSi LL?)). Nintendo had designed a large DS Lite model with 3.8-inch (97 mm) screens, compared to the standard 3-inch (76 mm) screens; development of this new handheld advanced far enough that it could have begun mass production. However, consumer demand for the DS Lite and Wii stalled its release. Iwata pitched the idea of simultaneously releasing large and small versions of the DSi, but Nintendo's hardware team was incapable of developing two models concurrently. After finishing work on the DSi, Kuwahara jump-started the DSi XL project and became project leader. Various names for the DSi XL were considered, including "DSi Comfort", "DSi Executive", "DSi Premium", "DSi Living", and "DSi Deka" (Japanese for "large"). Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto insisted for "DSi Deka". The DSi XL, a larger version of the DSi, has an improved viewing angle over its predecessor, which allows onlookers to see the screen's contents more easily. This feature was absent from the large DS Lite model due to cost issues, which also limited LCD screen size to approximately 3.8 inches (97 mm). The cost of LCD screens is determined by how many pieces are cut from a single large glass sheet. Cutting these sheets so each DSi XL screen was 4.2 inches (110 mm) produced the least amount of wasted material.
Universal's CityWalk hosted the midnight GameStop launch event on April 4–5, 2009.On November 1, 2008, the DSi was released in Japan, in black and white; its April 2, 2009 release in Australia and New Zealand, and its April 3 release in Europe, featured these same colors. It launched in the United States and Canada on April 5, alongside the game Rhythm Heaven. It was the first DS console to launch with multiple colors in North America—black and blue.iQue released a Chinese DSi model in black and white, with a pre-installed version of Nintendogs, in December 2009; the Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun reported that the Chinese and Korean models featured improved security, in order to combat piracy. On April 15, 2010, the DSi was launched in South Korea in white, black, blue, and pink, alongside the game MapleStory DS. MapleStory DS was also bundled with a red limited-edition DSi, which had characters from the game printed around its external camera. Other countries the DSi was released in include Brazil, Russia, and Turkey.
Nintendo had shipped 200,000 units for the DSi's Japanese launch, and during its first two days on sale, over 170,000 units were sold[cn 2]—the remaining units were either unclaimed pre-orders or reserved for sale on Culture Day. By the end of the month, it sold 535,000 units, in comparison to 550,000 DS Lites sold in its launch month. In the two-day launch period, Europe and North American sales totaled 600,000 units combined. North American first week sales almost doubled the DS Lite's 226,000 units by selling 435,000. In the UK, the console totaled 92,000 sales within two days of release, which GfK/Chart-Track data showed to be the fourth-best opening weekend ever in the region—higher than previous records set by other DS iterations.
DSi midnight launch events were held on the western and eastern coasts of the United States. Nintendo sponsored an official launch event at the Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles and the Nintendo World Store in New York City. The LA launch party featured several events, including merchandise handouts, signings and art galleries from i am 8-bit, parkour demonstrations, and performances by Gym Class Heroes. Hundreds attended and over 150 fans waited until midnight before heading into GameStop to get a DSi unit.
The Nintendo DSi XL was released in Japan on November 21, 2009 in dark brown, burgundy, and white. The former two colors were available for its European launch on March 5, 2010, and its North American launch on March 28. The console launched in Australia on April 15, 2010 in dark drown and burgundy. The DSi XL was released in other countries including Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey. The 2011 release of the Nintendo 3DS, the successor to the Nintendo DS series of handhelds, was announced on March 23, 2010. According to industry analysts, the timing of this announcement, which had drawn attention away from the North American launch of the company's Nintendo DSi XL handheld, was likely intended to preempt impending news leaks about the product by the Japanese press. M2 Research senior analyst Billy Pigeon argued the "XL is old news ... in Japan – and Nintendo is a very Japan-centric organization. This is just the corporate parent in Japan maybe not acting in the best interest of Nintendo of America."
Nintendo targeted a wider demographic profile with the first Nintendo DS (2004) than it had with the Game Boy line. Comparing 2008 life-to-date DS and DS Lite sales to the best selling game console, Sony's PlayStation 2, showed potential in further expanding the Nintendo DS gaming population—particularly in Europe and the United States. To further promote the product line while expanding its gaming population, Nintendo modified its market expansion approach. Iwata has said that families often share DS and DS Lite consoles, so to encourage each family member to buy an individual handheld, Nintendo added personalization features to the DSi.
The "i" in DSi symbolizes both an individual person (I) and the handheld's cameras (eyes); the former meaning contrasts with the "i"'s in Wii, which represent players gathering together. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said that, "If Wii was about gaming for the masses, then think of DSi as creativity for the masses." Iwata has said that the DSi is meant to be a first camera for children, and a social networking device for adults. In response to media commentary following the DSi's announcement, Iwata insisted that its new audio and camera capabilities are not meant to compete with mobile phones, the iPod, or the PSP. He explained their role in the marketplace:
|“||While cell phone and digital camera manufacturers have been trying to compete against each other by intensifying the picture pixel quality and zooming ability of their camera functions, and while music players are making its improvements mainly by making smaller exterior design and by increasing memory storage capacity, DSi is trying to propose a different path of evolution by providing the users with the opportunity to be able to touch and play with photographs and sounds.||”|
|Region||Units shipped||First available|
|Japan||5.87 million||November 1, 2008|
|Americas||10.20 million||April 5, 2009|
|Other regions||9.54 million||April 2, 2009|
|Nintendo DSi XL sales figures
(as of September 30, 2011)
|Japan||2.30 million||November 21, 2009|
|Americas||4.48 million||March 28, 2010|
|Other regions||4.29 million||March 5, 2010|
The DSi helped maintain strong sales for Nintendo's handheld product line. The DSi accounted for 40 percent of its product line's 2009 sales in the UK and frequently topped weekly sales charts in Japan during its first year of availability. In the United States, the console's initial three-month sales surpassed those of the DS, DS Lite, and Wii. The average weekly sales rate of the Wii and Nintendo DS declined slightly in March; Nintendo DS hardware sales stabilized to over 200,000 units for seven months after the DSi's launch, while Wii sales continued to diminish. Gamasutra estimated that, during October 2009 and February 2010, 50 percent of Nintendo DS unit sales were DSi consoles. In an October 2009 interview, Fils-Aime announced that the DSi had sold 2.2 million units in the United States. He said, "If you give the consumer great value in terms of what they pay, they're willing to spend, and we say [that] based on the experience of launching the DSi". The United States had its highest yearly DS sales in 2009 with 11.22 million units sold. The DSi and DSi XL accounted for 16.88 of the 27.11 million units sold worldwide of its product line for Nintendo's fiscal year beginning April 1, 2009 and ending March 31, 2010.
In a United States hardware sales estimate for July 2010 by Gamasutra, the DSi and DSi XL each outsold the DS Lite. The website also reported the DSi sold approximately 300,000 units in July 2009 and February 2010, which remains consistent for July 2010 if combined with DSi XL sales. As a result, the average price consumers were spending on the Nintendo DS hardware family rose to over $165 (in 2004 dollars, $192 adjusted for inflation as of 2010[update]), which is over $15 more than the November 2004 launch price of the original Nintendo DS. Nintendo made its first price cuts for the DSi in Europe on June 18, 2010, for the DSi and DSi XL consoles in Japan on June 19, and in North America on September 12. The DSi and DSi XL accounted for 14.66 of the 17.52 million units sold worldwide of its product line for Nintendo's fiscal year beginning April 1, 2010 and ending March 31, 2011.
In a United States hardware sales estimate for July 2011 by Gamasutra following the DS Lite's price drop a month earlier, about 60 to 70 percent of approximately 290,000 DS units sold were DSi and DSi XL consoles. The website reported DS sales for the following month decreased by 45 percent.
A closed DSi; the second camera is visible.The Nintendo DSi's design is similar to that of the second DS iteration, the Nintendo DS Lite. It has two 3.25-inch (83 mm) TFT-LCD screens—.25 inches (6.4 mm) larger than those of previous models—that are capable of displaying 262,144 colors. The touch sensitive lower screen accepts input from the included stylus. The handheld features four lettered buttons (X, Y, A, B), a directional pad, and Start, Select, and Power buttons. Two shoulder buttons, a game card slot, and a power cable input are placed under the console's hinge. The DSi is 2.95 inches (75 mm) long × 5.39 inches (137 mm) wide × .74 inches (19 mm) tall (when closed), and weighs .472 pounds (214 g). It is approximately 12 percent shorter (.10 inches (2.5 mm)) than the Nintendo DS Lite, but slightly wider and lighter.
Unlike previous models, the handheld has two VGA (0.3-megapixel) digital cameras. The first is placed on the internal hinge and points toward the user; the second is on the outer casing and faces away from the user. Another new feature is the SD card slot, which is set behind a cover on the handheld's right side. While the DS Lite had a power switch, the DSi, like the original Nintendo DS, features a power button. The button has extra functions beyond activating and deactivating the console, and unlike the power button of the original DS, it is located on the bottom-left side of the touchscreen. Brightness and volume controls are placed on the left side of the DSi; five brightness settings—one more than the DS Lite—are available. However, the console's battery life is shorter than that of the DS Lite, regardless of which brightness setting is selected; for example, the DSi has a battery life of 9–14 hours on the lowest brightness setting, compared to the 15–19 hours of the DS Lite on the same setting. The handheld uses an 840 mAh internal rechargeable battery, compared to 1000 mAh for the DS Lite, and has a lifespan of approximately 500 charge cycles; after this point, it may be replaced by the user.
The DSi has a matte surface to prevent the visibility of fingerprints. It is available in seven colors, but color selection varies by region. The lime green color is exclusive to Japan, while the dark blue color is available in Japan, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Blue is exclusive to Europe, North America, and China, while red is available in Europe. Numerous special-edition models and bundles have been released, including those for Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time, and the 2009 Black Friday shopping day.
The DSi's main and sub-printed circuit boards.The DSi has more RAM and a faster CPU than the DS Lite. Developers reported the console has a native mode, which offers software specifically designed for its hardware, access to the system's extra processing and memory resources for DSi-exclusive software. The inclusion of a codec integrated circuit amplifies sound signals and converts them from digital to analog. This produces a louder audio output, and depending on the mode used, higher quality audio than previous DS models. Unused space on the motherboard was cut down without significantly raising its price; the CPU was relocated, and the battery housing was expanded.
The camera's resolution is two-and-a-half times higher than the handheld's screens. However, their resolution are considerably lower than that of digital cameras and mobile phones released at the time. This was done to help keep their price reasonable and to maintain a preferable response time for viewing photos in rapid session, particularity since numerous applications will use them.
- CPU: The DSi has two ARM architecture CPUs: ARM9 and ARM7.[cn 1] The ARM9 is clocked at 133 MHz, almost twice as fast as previous models.
- RAM: 16 MB of RAM (four times as much as previous models)
- Resolution: Screens at 256 × 192 pixels (same as previous models) and cameras at 640 × 480 pixels
- Storage: 256 MB of internal flash memory with an SD card (up to 2 GB) and SDHC card (up to 32 GB) expansion slot
The Nintendo DSi XL's white, bronze (pictured), and burgundy color schemes were intended to match with living room and dining room settings.The Nintendo DSi XL was announced on October 29, 2009: it features larger screens, and a greater overall size, than the original DSi. It is the fourth model of Nintendo DS, and the first to be available as a size variation of the same model. Iwata said that cost restraints had, until then, limited the screen size and multiplayer aspects of portable game consoles, and that the DSi XL offers "an improved view angle on the screens", which makes it the first "portable system that can be enjoyed with people surrounding the gamer." He argued that this introduces a new method of playing portable video games, wherein those "surrounding the game player can also join in one way or the other to the gameplay." While the original DSi was specifically designed for individual use, Iwata suggested that DSi XL buyers give the console a "steady place on a table in the living room," so that it might be shared by multiple household members.
With measurements of 3.60 inches (91 mm) long × 6.34 inches (161 mm) wide × .83 inches (21 mm) tall, and a weight of 0.692 pounds (314 g), the DSi XL is the longest, widest and heaviest DS model. The console features two 4.2-inch (110 mm) wide-viewing angle LCD screens with the same resolution as the smaller model. It has improved battery life over the DSi on all brightness settings; for example, batteries last 13–17 hours on the lowest level of brightness. The console is outfitted with identical speakers seen in its predecessor, but are contained in larger speaker enclosures, enabling them to produce louder sound. The hinges stop the screen at 120° in addition to the original DSi's position of 155° in order to allow easier viewing when placed on a table-top. The DSi XL is bundled with two longer styli, one of which is thicker, rounded, and pen-like, and does not fit inside the unit.Flipnote Studio and the Nintendo DSi Browser come pre-installed with the DSi XL, alongside other, region-specific software.
The DSi XL has a matte surface, and the exterior of its top panel is coated with a gloss finish. It is available in eight two-toned colors, but color selection varies by region. The white color is exclusive to Japan, while green is available in Japan and Europe. Red is exclusive to Australia and New Zealand, while the yellow color is available in Japan, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The pink color is exclusive to North America. Two special-edition models have been released: those for LovePlus+ and the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros.
Like the Wii, the DSi has upgradeable firmware, and features a menu interface that displays applications as selectable icons. The seven primary icons represent "Card Software", "Nintendo DSi Camera", "Nintendo DSi Sound", "Nintendo DSi Shop", "DS Download Play", "PictoChat", and "system settings"; additional applications may be downloaded from the DSi Shop. Icons are set in a grid navigable with the stylus or D-pad, and may be re-arranged via dragging-and-dropping. The power button can either soft reset the console, returning it to the main menu, or shut it down. Game cards may be hot swapped when the console is set to the main menu, allowing players to switch to a different game card without shutting down the power.
The DSi has more extensive multimedia features than previous DS models; pictures taken with its camera, downloadable software from Nintendo, and AAC audio files from other devices can be stored to SD cards for future use. Before taking a photograph with the "Nintendo DSi Camera" software, users may modify the viewfinder's live image with ten "lens" options. Images captured with the DSi can be uploaded, via SD cards, to the Wii's Photo Channel, and, for consoles with the 1.4 firmware update or greater, to the social networking website Facebook.
The built-in "Nintendo DSi Sound" player has voice recording and music playback functionality. Voice recordings can be edited with audio filters and manipulated through pitch and playback. Users may save and modify up to 18 ten-second sound clips recorded with the console's microphone. These clips are saved on the unit itself and cannot be saved to the SD card for export. Users can also play music from SD cards with visualizations displayed on the upper screen. AAC audio with .mp4, .m4a, or .3GP filename extensions are supported, but non-AAC formats, including MP3, are not supported. Sounds like drum beats and the classic Mario jumping noises can be added with button presses. Playing music also has its own set of manipulation options similar to those used for voice recordings, as well as a group of audio filters. If headphones are in use, compatible music files from SD cards may be played even when the DSi is closed. Users may export photos, sounds, and Internet settings to a 3DS.
The Nintendo DSi connects to the Internet via either its built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi or a Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector; both methods grant access to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service. The DSi supports WEP, WPA (AES/TKIP), and WPA2 (AES/TKIP) wireless encryption; only software with built-in support may use the latter two encryption types, as they were not supported by the DS and DS Lite. Up to six wireless Internet connection profiles can be saved; using the traditional setup method, the first three profiles support WEP encryption, while the remaining three are selectable under a more advanced option, which supports WPA encryption. Under this advanced option, users may access the Wi-Fi Protected Setup method and configure proxy settings.