Hardware Review | Nintendo DS Lite (Europe)

By John Boyle 22.06.2006 28

Body Size
DS Lite: 218g
Original DS: 275g
Upper Display
DS Lite:
3-inch transparent TFT color LCD with backlight featuring four adjustable levels of brightness, 192x256 pixel resolution, 0.24mm dot pitch, 260,000 colors

Original DS:
Same as DS Lite without adjustable brightness

Lower Display
Same as Upper Screen, but with Touch Sensitivity
Battery Life
Original DS:
6-10 hours
Recharge time: four hours

DS Lite (brightness):
Lowest: 15-19 hours
Low: 10-15 hours
High: 7-11 hours
Highest: 5-8 hours
Recharge time: 3 hours




It feels like we've been waiting an age for this beauty to land on Britain. But after seeing every nation under the sun get release dates, seeing Japan sell through their quota dozens of times then even seeing a truck load of our DS Lites get swiped we've finally got the DS Lite in British stores. But after all the hype, all the mystery and all the drooling over pictures some questions still remain. Is it as slick as reported, are the screens better than the PSP screens, how do the best games play on it and exactly how lovely is it to have a black DS Lite in your hands? Ready for the answers? Good, then let us begin.

Let us not beat about the bush, the DS Lite is easily the sexiest piece of handheld hardware ever created and when you actually have it in your grubby mitts then you'll see why such strong language was used at the start of the section. The original seemed to forget about the general ideology behind handheld gameplay, in that it should be portable and not weigh down your pocket. Well the DS Lite is a great deal smaller and incredibly light, especially when compared to the original. By now you will all have seen the various comparison pictures dotted around the internet, but it isn't until you get a DS Lite in your possession next to an original DS that you realise how large the original was. The console closed is simply sublime. Infact it shares a large similarity with the Dreamcast in that the only sign of the console maker is on the back with the licence details. There is the DS logo on the top but that is it, slightly raised from the incredibly reflective surface. This shiny reflective surface does smudge incredibly easily... comparable to the metal back of an iPod. It clears up easily but having a surface like the DS Lite was always going to have risks like that.

Opening the DS Lite we see where the main body of work has gone into making it smaller. The bottom screen is raised from the console ever so slightly and the entire top section is slightly sunken into the so when closed both sit snugly on top of each other without the screen getting scratched. So the rather odd version of a clamshell design present in the original DS is gone and so is the much-blasted button set up. The D-pad is now much smaller and similar in design to the Wii control pad. The a, b, x, y buttons are also much smaller and squishier, the start and select buttons have moved to below the 4 buttons and are now small and circular. The shoulder buttons are now in line with the rest of the casing and don't jut out from the rest of the console. The power button has changed also, with it now on the side and being a spring-loaded button instead of a push button. So no more accidental turn offs during a frantic end to Metroid Hunters. Overall this gives the open DS Lite a far less cluttered feel than the old one and general looks a great deal less daunting for anyone diving in for the first time. No doubt this new design will help continue the work Nintendo are doing in widening access to gaming, but looks are only half of it. It's a games console, so how does it play games?

The first thing you'll notice is how the now side loaded stylus is a bit bigger and a great deal thicker. This may not sound like much of a change but it cuts down on the hand cramp all night MP:H sessions can give. The thicker size gives you a better grip and it feels more like you're holding a pen as opposed to the tiny thin piece of plastic the old DS gave you. The shoulder buttons are also much more comfortable now that they are in line with the casing. Holding them in now feels natural and makes games like MK: DS much better to play in long stints. The squishy buttons work well, but the d-pad isn't all that it could be. Moving in diagonals is tricky and sometimes you'll find yourself moving in very bizarre manners. It does get easier once you get used to it but it's a shame such a slick package has such an annoying minus point. A major plus point with the buttons is that there is no longer a slight indent around the d-pad and action buttons, which means that dirt and grime no longer gathers there, who'd have thought the DS Lite would also be better hygeine wise! The microphone has also been moved to the hinge and this makes more of a difference than first thought. Many DS games had great voice recognition capabilities but occasionally the mic would simply "miss" your voice. Very annoying when you're husky was in the final of the obedience trials...luckily all the frustration is now in the past. The moving of the mic now means the DS can find your voice much easier and at a slightly lower volume simply because it's now centralised to the console and not wedged at the bottom. It's simply staggering that stuff like this wasn't spotted in the original build; one would think that this kind of stuff would've been spotted by quality control. Oh well...at least it's all optimised now.

The big debate when the PSP went up against the original DS concerned the screens. Sony nailed it with the screens, they were gorgeous and showed the DS screens up for the poor quality they were. But if you have only played on a DS then you won't really know what you've been missing. It isn't like the original GBA where you knew there was a major problem (in that you just couldn't see the game 9 times out of 10); everything is playable and perfectly viewable. However, once you get a DS Lite and shove the brightness up things change. It's like gaining sight after being blind, you see colours that you've never seen before and old games breathe new life. There are 4 brightness settings that are changed on the boot up menu, with the least brightest still being brighter than the original DS. Of course the brighter you get the faster the battery goes down and the middle brightness settings will suit most people, but if you're wanting the definitive way of playing then get the brightness right up to the maximum... on that setting it outclasses even the PSP screens. The touch screen is also great deal more resilient and doesn't scratch half as easily as the old model.

It's remarkably difficult to review a piece of hardware that is actually a tweaking of existing hardware. You have to look at it on two counts; firstly how it rates as a piece of hardware by itself, then as a piece of hardware when compared to the original. There is no doubting the DS Lite looks gorgeous and is streamlined to the point where there probably won't be a new version of the DS released. And when compared to the old DS it's plainly obvious which one Nintendo poured their resources into. But the improvements in the screen, the controls and the portability are built for two sets of people, brand new owners and regular gamers. If you are really into gaming then you will adore the DS Lite as it takes the pain out of long-term gaming and the improved screens will give every DS game a new lease of life. The problem is if you only use your DS sporadically, if that's the case then this really isn't for you. We may have sounded a bit harsh on the old DS throughout this piece but it does do a decent job at playing games and the only gripes with it are the aesthetics and the problems in playing the DS for an extended time. The DS Lite removes both of these but if you are happy with the DS and have no problems with playing games for a long time then this would be a wasted

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Comments

Great write up John, the DS Lite really does sound like an awesome piece of kit. I'm quite tempted by GAME's trade-in offer (

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...

Absolutely excellent review John, great work! I can't wait to get my mitts on this lil' beauty!

If anyone goes on hols to the US from UK, be sure to pick one up on the current exchange rate - it's almost $2 ->

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

jb said:
Absolutely excellent review John, great work! I cant wait to get my mitts on this lil beauty!If anyone goes on hols to the US from UK, be sure to pick one up on the current exchange rate - its almost $2 ->

Black is lovely... really lovely. Once you go black you... well you know the rest.

I'll get one at some point, just for the smaller size and improved battery, I don't care about the brightness of the screen. Smilie

Can't afford one right now though, I'll probably get mine second hand.

"Tomorrow the waiting and the anticipation will be over as Nintendo of Europe will finally launch the white and black DS Lite in the UK and Europe."

Forget that!!

I got mine (official UK Lite) today!!

Am I a genius or am I a genius??!?!?! Smilie

I'm getting a black DS lite this monday*RocKs out*

Can't wait till I get my sweaty paws all over it...Smilie

~Getting on C3's massive tits since 2K5.~

It would cost me

I have bought a black lite today and I LOVE IT =)) yes the fingermarks are a bit annoying but it's very easy to clean it perfectly!

Great review John. Smilie

I'm still hanging on to my original DS. It's fine as it is, and I don't have the money to go throwing at a new version right now. Maybe I'll get a white one at a future date to match my to-be-white Wii...

MIS said:
Tomorrow the waiting and the anticipation will be over as Nintendo of Europe will finally launch the white and black DS Lite in the UK and Europe.Forget that!!I got mine (official UK Lite) today!!Am I a genius or am I a genius??!?!?! Smilie

Yeah, so did I (hence why I did the review).

Well my little write up ,posted before haz brings up a slight more hands on approach. Smilie

http://www.cubed3.com/topic/15693/4/#77

Although i agree with haz i havnt incured the problem that he did with the diagonal moving problem....

Damn it I want one!!!

Damn it I want one!!!

Yeah, you, and like, a few million other people Smilie

~Getting on C3's massive tits since 2K5.~

Well my little write up ,posted before haz brings up a slight more hands on approach.

I won't even dignify that with a response.

HazukiSan said:
Black is lovely... really lovely. Once you go black you... well you know the rest.

Your gonna need a wheelchair, baby! Smilie

Nice review... I would so want to buy one, but the price for them here in my town in little frosty Finland is 260


---
Games make people play.

good write!! but your score is wrong!!! 10/10

I see all these people insulting the Nintendo corporation because of the lack of mature content. Yet there is something about Nintendo (at least their games) that strikes a certain unadulterated feeling of joy!!!  Pokemon Y - 1048-9263-5562

lol the euro to u.s. dollar exchange rate is 1 euro = 1.2544 u.s. dollar not quite double

I aint getting mine im waiting for the next remodel that Nintendo's doing. Looks like you guys like to waste your money cause anyone knows that Nintendo will be binging another one out in the future.

DS Lighter - A made up name the I made up.

They're really pushing the adverts too, but not just the console itself, but also with the new games, I must have seen the Nintendogs ad about 100 times! Smilie

I really can't wait to get this beauty! A gamer's dream huh?!

I have heard some thing about faulty buttons & dead pixels, are they a regular error or prolly just on ome models? 'Cos I wouldn't really like to have a faulty D-Pad...

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

The d-pad IS an issue but it seems to loosen out with play. However it is a minor problem.

Marzy said:
I aint getting mine im waiting for the next remodel that Nintendos doing. Looks like you guys like to waste your money cause anyone knows that Nintendo will be binging another one out in the future.DS Lighter - A made up name the I made up.

It's not going to be for a good couple of years yet. DSL seems to solve all issues with the old DS that might've bothered people.

Mason said:
Marzy said:I aint getting mine im waiting for the next remodel that Nintendos doing. Looks like you guys like to waste your money cause anyone knows that Nintendo will be binging another one out in the future.DS Lighter - A made up name the I made up.
Its not going to be for a good couple of years yet. DSL seems to solve all issues with the old DS that mightve bothered people.

Yeah, really can't see how else it could be refined. Perhaps some sort of analogue stick, but that's pushing it a bit.

The d-pad IS an issue but it seems to loosen out with play. However it is a minor problem.

I remember even having some issues with the normal DS's pad. When I bought Dragonball Z: Supersonic Warriors 2 and first started playing it, it seemed that the D-pad wasn't loosened up enough to be able to double tap very often. That was kind of bothersome, but it's loosened up a lot now.

~Getting on C3's massive tits since 2K5.~

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