The new DSi features an MP3 player and two cameras, one 0.3 MP outside, and another one inside. It also features a thinner build and larger screens. With it you can access Nintendo's new "DSi Store" and download games and apps.  (Source: Nintendo)

The new handheld debuts in Japan November 1 for approximately $178 USD and comes in two colors -- black and white.  (Source: Nintendo)

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata announces the exciting new handheld.
The new gaming system will come with 2 cameras, music functionality, and be even thinner

Following rumors that had been circulating throughout the last week, Nintendo confirmed reports that it was giving its best-selling handheld gaming console, the Nintendo DS, a facelift.  Nintendo President Satoru Iwata was on hand to announce the new unit at Nintendo's Fall Press Conference.  With the new handheld, Nintendo looks to continue in its successes thinking outside the usual gaming box.

The new unit, called the "DSi" will keep the trademark double-screen (DS), while expanding the screens to 3.5 inches, a 17 percent increase in size.  Like Apple's iPods, Nintendo is cramming more into a smaller space, fitting the jumbo new screens into a package that's 12 percent thinner than the previous DS.  The general look of the handheld is otherwise relatively unchanged, with the stylus being perhaps slightly larger.

One major omission is the scrapping of the GBA cartridge port, likely to help cut the size down and make room for the bigger screens in the thinner body.  Fans of backwards compatibility will have to turn to their old DS's and the defunct Game Boy Advance for their GBA gaming fix.

While that exclusion is disappointing,Nintendo packs a lot of features in the new unit to make up for it.  The biggest new feature, perhaps, is the addition of cameras.  The outside of the case gets a 0.3 MP VGA (640x480) resolution camera, similar to that found on some cell phones.  Inside, there's a smaller camera on the hinge.  New games will be able to harness the camera functionality for unique new gameplay.  Further, the new DS comes with a free paint program so users can edit their pictures.

The new unit also will come with an advanced web browser, so users can send their new pictures over the internet if they have a wi-fi function. 

The other highly touted feature of the Swiss-army knife-like DS is music functionality.  The DS now features both an SD slot and an undisclosed amount of internal storage to help support its newly acquired music playback.  One unique feature of the unit's MP3 player is the ability to slow down or speed up tracks via user control.  Says Mr. Iwata on this new feature, "We want our customers to individualize their Nintendo DSi ."

Much like Apple's iPhone App Store, Nintendo is also launching a "DSi Shop", which will allow users to buy and download games and other applications for the DSi over a wi-fi connection.  Customers points will be tied to the Wii Store points, so fans of the Wii should be able to interchange their credits.  The store's applications will come in 0, 200, 500, and 800 point tiers -- in other words, there will be some free applications.  Until March 2010 the device also comes pre-bundled with 1,000 points.

The new DSi will launch November 1 in Japan and will cost ¥189,000 (approx. $178 USD), close to the price of the current DS.  International launch dates are yet to be announced.  The new handheld comes in two colors at launch -- black and white.

With its new console Nintendo looks to continue its dominance of the gaming industry.  In the traditional console market, Nintendo's Wii is the world leader and outsells Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PS3 by large margins monthly.  In the handheld market the Nintendo DS is king, having sold over 81 million units worldwide.  However, Nintendo likely felt compelled to update the DS as it has recently been facing stiff competition from the redesigned PSP -- it has fallen behind in Japanese sales to the PSP for the last 5 months.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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