Last year, Nintendo released the DSi, the third iteration of the DS handheld gaming console. That model introduced two low-resolution cameras, along with larger screens and a slimmer and more robust design than that of the DS Lite. In October 2009, news came of another refresh -- the DSi XL, a super-sized version of the DSi with even larger screens. It's available now for around £150.
Hello, big boy
If you own or have held a DSi, the first thing you'll notice about the DSi XL is its weight. At around 315g, the DSi XL is heavier than the DSi and DS Lite, which both weigh around 213g. That said, the DSi XL has a certain appealing robustness that probably means it can take more of a beating than its predecessors.
Whereas the DSi is covered in a matte outer layer, the DSi XL sports a glossy top, along with a more textured plastic outer casing, giving it a comparatively sophisticated appearance. We didn't scuff it up during our testing, but it appears that the shiny top may be prone to scratching. It's also a fingerprint magnet. The dark burgundy colour of our review unit helps to hide smudges, however. The DSi XL is also available in brown and white.
Measuring 160 by 20 by 91mm, the DSi XL makes the DSi look tiny. Its dual 107mm (4.2-inch) screens are a whopping 93 per cent larger than those found on the DS Lite, and roughly an inch larger than the screens on the DSi. The three LED lights found on the left hinge of the DSi XL have symbols for power, charging status and Wi-Fi activity.
Nintendo has made a big deal about the wide viewing angles of the DSi XL's two screens, and, although it's difficult to discern a huge difference compared to the DSi's screens, this improvement is very apparent compared to the DS Lite's displays. This makes it easier to watch people play when you're sitting next to them or watching over their shoulder.
Every button on the system has the same shape, feel and location as those on the DSi, save for slightly larger L and R shoulder buttons, and power toggle. Compared with those on the DS Lite, the X, A, B and Y buttons aren't as deep, so they require less pressing. The same can be said for the L and R rear buttons -- they're now much springier, and require less effort to press. Even the Select and Start buttons have received a similar treatment -- we found them to be especially difficult to press on the DS Lite. Moving along to the d-pad, we experienced the same sort of click responsiveness. The DS Lite's d-pad was somewhat looser.
We really wish the DSi XL improved on the original's 0.3-megapixel cameras, because, even though the screens have been enlarged, their 256x192-pixel resolution has not. This means photos are often blurry and lacking in detail.
The included stylus is mounted in the same rear location as with the DSi, with just a 4mm bump in length. We really liked the pen-shaped stylus that's also included, and found ourselves using it on our older DS models, too. Although the thick stylus is a great addition, it can't be stored in the unit itself and must be carried separately. There's also an included AC charger, which works with the original DSi as well.