The amazing Nintendo 3DS

After a build-up that would make Apple proud, the all-new Nintendo 3DS finally went on sale at midnight on Saturday, prompting long lines and a party-like atmosphere at several major retailers around the country.

Of course, most of the buzz surrounding the 3DS has been about the revolutionary 3D display, which can be used for playing games or watching media, and which doesn’t require the player to wear any kind of 3D glasses. Not only does the 3D display generate dramatically improved graphics, but the 3D cameras also allow the player to see the surrounding world in 3D and capture 3D images.

The 3D effect is truly remarkable and very different from what you are used to seeing at the multiplex after you don those ugly black glasses. With the 3DS, it’s more about the depth and variety of the images, and seeing characters and landscapes come alive in extraordinary ways.

Much has been written about the potentially damaging effects of long-term exposure to 3D images. As a safeguard, the 3DS includes parental controls that can be used to lock the system into displaying regular 2D images. The device also has something called a 3D Depth Slider, which controls the depth of the 3D imagery. In fact, the Slider becomes an essential set-up tool, allowing users to find a level of 3D intensity that they are comfortable with for every game they play.

In terms of design, the Nintendo 3DS mostly resembles the DS Lite. It’s about 5.3 inches wide and weights just over 8 ounces. The bottom display is approximately 3 inches diagonally, while the top 3D display is slightly bigger at 3.5 inches. There are two back-facing cameras, which can be used for taking 3D photos, and one front-facing camera. You control the action through the bottom screen, using touch, a joystick-like circle pad, traditional control buttons, or a stylus. The 3DS also includes Wii-style motion sensors, which allow players to control games simply by moving the device around.

Nintendo has also introduced two revolutionary new features to the 3DS that will be welcomed by players but could make parents a little nervous. The first is a program called Streetpass, which automatically links your 3DS to other 3DS’s nearby. This could be in the home, in the car, or in the street, hence the name. This is intended to allow friends to instantly connect and play games or swap photos and other content, but it does open up the intriguing – and perhaps alarming – possibility of randomly connecting with total strangers.

The other feature is Spotpass, which actively seeks out wireless hotspots to ensure you have constant access to online data and updates. This could include software, messages, notifications, and 3D content. Taken together, these two features greatly improve the interactivity of the device and will encourage owners to take their 3DS with them wherever they go.

A slew of 3D games are already available for the Nintendo 3DS. They include The Sims 3, Madden Football, LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Shadow Wars, Rayman 3D, and the too-cute Nintendogs + Cats.

The Nintendo 3DS costs $249.99 and comes in a choice of Aqua Blue or Cosmo Black. It also comes with a charging cradle, a 2GB SD memory card, and built-in games and software that proudly show off its extraordinary capabilities.

Comment by Dana, posted 4/6/2011, 12:31 AM:

My son wants one of these so bad. We have had several DS' and like them a lot. He doesn't know it yet, but this will be his birthday present. I just hope he( can wait until September.
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