Hardware Review | Opera Nintendo DS Browser

By James Temperton 30.08.2006 33

Opera DS Browser
James Temperton :: 30th August 2006

From the start, the Nintendo DS has been all about the games, but this philosophy is changing with the launch of the Opera DS Browser for the system. Announced some time ago now, it is already out in Japan and Opera were kind enough to send us down a unit to review for the DS lite. After quite a bit of time playing about with it and trying to work out what all the crazy Japanese text means, we can now bring you our verdict.

First up, the Nintendo DS is not built to browse the Internet. No matter what anyone tells you, it doesn't quite feel right. Sure, the touch screen interface and swanky browser features make it an enjoyable and easy experience, but viewing and navigating webpages doesn't work as well as it should. Worries that the console is too slow to load bigger pages are all too clear, the DS runs at speed that is a lot slower than 56K dialup when using the official Nintendo USB Wi-Fi Adaptor. Still, this didn't put us off.

We tested out the software on a number of pages, from Nintendo's official site, to Cubed3, the BBC Website, Google and Amazon. All of which had a varying level of success. The BBC Website works great on the 'low graphics version' for example, so we could catch up and browse through all the latest world news and sporting headlines. We then navigated to Cubed3 via Google, which was nice and easy to do. URL input is quite simple, you can either use an on-screen keyboard or physically write the letters of the URL in two little boxes, alternating from one to the other, each one containing one letter until the URL is complete, then you hit the enter button and off you go. Even our handwritten scrawl was recognised for the most part, which was a massive surprise.

There are two viewing modes in the browser, it can either be split through the two screens as one continuous display or the bottom screen can become a zoomed out view of the whole page with a selection box floating on it, the part of the webpage in the box is displayed on the top screen and you can move it around to clearly view different parts of the page simply by dragging your stylus across the screen. We found this version to be far easier for viewing most websites, as it doesn't do strange things with the layout of the pages to get them to fit. For things like 'low graphics' versions and pages designed for portable devices the two-screen split is perhaps better.

All the normal settings are present and correct; you can view your history, set-up favourites, and flick back and forward through your recently viewed pages. It really is just like the normal Opera browser but smaller. The only thing holding it back is the lack of specialised portable device content on the Internet. So many webpages simply don't work very well on the DS, but when going through imageless or quick loading sites specifically designed for mobile phones or PDAs, the browser does a great job. It looks great, it navigates superbly and everything is easy to read and quick to load.

On the brightness of the DS lite screen everything looks really crisp and sharp and the screen display is excellent. The browser is quick to load and even in Japanese it is very easy to use. Sadly, it lacks additional features. You can't navigate or use a lot of pages due to things like Flash content or embedded sound files, which is a bit of a pain, but far from the fault of the software. We have to applaud Opera for the software they have put together here it really is excellent.

The problem is, the Internet isn't. We'd like to see Nintendo make the effort to make DS compatible pages for key areas such as news, sport, gaming, entertainment and the like (much like what can be found on mobile phones). We really can't find fault with the software, even is browsing is a bit fiddly and slow, we've had great fun sitting in front of the TV with our DS lite browsing the Internet and trying to impress people with our new gadget.

All in all, we're hugely impressed with this piece of kit. It doesn't take any setting up, there is nothing that left us hugely confused (apart from the Japanese text all over the place, obviously) and it really is genuinely useful. Being able to check news headlines and browse our favourite sites when we're near to compatible hotspots will be a very cool feature and hopefully one that a lot of people will look to take advantage of. Kudos to Opera and Nintendo for teaming up to create this exciting piece of software. When it hits Europe this October we strongly advise that you invest and enjoy, you won't regret it!

Final Score: 8/10

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Looks pretty damn snazzy on your DS Lite James! Great work Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter


Can you watch game trailers etc, or does the DS not support it?
Also, do you have an idea of how quick it would work with my wireless, which runs at a speed of 54.0 mbps?

King of the 'League of Kings'||My deviantART|| My Photography

Good stuff James. I should have my C3-2-1 review on this up in a few days.

DS doesn't support any video or sound media. 54.0mbps varies depending on your actual connection speed (i.e. 512kbps, 1mb, 2mb, 4mb, 8mb etc)

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Aye, it isn't supportive of much multi-media web content, so no exciting sounds, videos or anything like that which is a shame. Still, it is bloody good as a portable Internet device.

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

Its funny reading this, because most reviews that I have seen of it were pretty negative. Hey, I'm not really going to be doing any major internet trawling whilst waiting for the train anyway so it looks okay. I just can't get over two things - Why didn't they make it updatable via WFC and why didn't they support PDF. No, really. Why.

Don't think i will get this, but the Wii has Opera built in doesn't it?

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Yeah the Wii has Opera built in.

I will probabully pick this up if the price is right so I can casually surf the net when im out and about or when I can't get on the computer but I just want to check something, anyway great review.

I can't wait to be able to get on the internet wherever in my house, it's a real shame about the loading times, worse than 56k? Smilie

That, for me... would make it's score about 6/10 TBH ^^; although I've never used it, so I'll keep an open mind 'till I use it.

Still, good review, I still wanna get it a lot! Smilie

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It looks good, and also speed problems may be less when its out properly in europe.
(else its going ver japanse severs).

What annoys me is theres so many simple features that could improve this device so much, like newsfeed support, or an email reader.

Homebrew solutions have existed for those for a few months now.

How well does this work on Google sites anyway?

I am a heavy user of GMAIL, GoogleMaps and Google Calender.

Do any of them work? how well?

" just can't get over two things - Why didn't they make it updatable via WFC and why didn't they support PDF. No, really. Why"

a) Because putting any writeable memory, let alone a lot, in a DScart is expensive.
b) Because PDF's are a bloody heavy format. The PSP cant do them, theres no chance the DS could. If you want to read PDFs, use google and then "Open as HTML".

( Edited on 31.08.2006 00:01 by Darkflame )

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(else its going ver japanse severs).


Surely all it needs is an internet connection.. it won't need to connect to any server in particular,

I am a heavy user of GMAIL, GoogleMaps and Google Calender.

Not very good - Gmail works okay, limited, but usable. Not tried GoogleMaps/Calendar, but will do for when I do my review on it later this week Smilie

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Hopefully in the near future, a third party releases one that is compatible with flash...

This review has been really positive compared to the other reviews that I have seen. I don't see this as being a justified purchase for me. I can understand the reasons why someone would need one for low bandwidth things such as emails and feeds but I easily have access to these things at home and at school which is where I am most of the time.

I also agree with you guys about making more sites compadible with this. No other reviews I have read have failed to mentioned this at all.

Is there any possible signs of downloadable improvements for the software? Also is there any Opera Voice support? I have just gotten into it and love the idea.

( Edited on 31.08.2006 06:04 by Nexus )

Nice. It loks better than I thought it would. Imglad it works with Cubed 3 but will you be able to post on it?

you want to post with DS? in the forum? Clearly DS isn't for typing, then why you want do do so?

Use Opera-DS for these things and you will be happy:
* browse http://www.cubed3.com/lite/ and check cubed3-news the WAP-way,
* check your gaming sites, which do not rely on flash for navigating (Advantage: No Flash-ads!),
* check in your local Best-Buy, Mediamarkt or whatever if amazon gives you the DVD you want to purchase any cheaper than this store
* andandand

It isn't good for watching trailers (buy a PSP), checking eMails (buy a PDA), play Flash-games (plug in real games like... all DS games), see your Flickr-album (I think it's too heavy a graphics for that) or other fancy-heavy-CPU-usage-stuff.
You guys all know what a waek CPU is? So bear that in mind and avoid everything which make DS breake a sweat - and compiling postscript (that's what a pdf is) is certainly one of them, others are flash, Web 2.0, heavy graphics sites and big evil signatures most of you guys use here in the forum.

I find your lack of faith disturbing!

With all that has been said about this browser. Do you think some gaming sites such as this one will make a 'lite' version of the forum too?

This would be great as then we can see what people are chatting about anywhere without having to wait for it to load forever.


I don't see why we can't make a 'lite' version of the forums, but the DS isn't the easiest thing to write lots on, so it'd be a bit slow and making good, constructive and extended posts would take forever. I don't know why reviews have been so negative, it does the best job possible with the limited power of the DS and I think it is a great little portable browser.

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

Aye, I'll be developing an extended Lite version of the site soon. Now that I've got me DS Opera I can test it out on the fly Smilie

It really isn't bad as some other sites have suggested. I really like the touch screen writing recognition - some have said it's slow, but I prefer it!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Aye, I'll be developing an extended Lite version of the site soon. Now that I've got me DS Opera I can test it out on the fly

Look forward to it. The browser seems quite good considering he power of the DS.


I may use this software if it came free with something.

But I'm buggered if I'd pay 30 quid for it. Not supporting video or music playback is a major kick in the left nut - YouTube/Google Video compatability would've really boosted the potential of this browser. Limited mail functions is a kick in the other nut.

( Edited on 31.08.2006 13:16 by artmonkey )

Less posty, more gamey.

Slower the 56k? WTF? Is that only with the Nintendo dongle?

No it's just that the DS isn't realy powerful enough to load web pages and stuff.

XBL Gamertag: James2t3

No it's just that the DS isn't realy powerful enough to load web pages and stuff.

Actually the DS just does not have enough ram. Since the browser requires extra RAM to be plugged into the GBA slot for cache storage. Nintendo could at some point release a larger stick of ram . More than likely though, the browers will be updated and ship with a larger stick of ram.

Since ram improves upon graphics, I'm wondering if the gba ram stick will improve upon the DS graphics? Sort of like the 4MB Expansion Pak for the N64. Or does this feature have to be specifically programed to work? I wonder.

If Opera is popular, which you can count on, then I'm sure more GBA memory cards will be made, with more space, RAM, whatever.

I think slower than 56k is.... horrible Smilie

So I assume it won't be too good for viewing images either? They'll prolly take a long while to load, so a Lite C3 would be great...

How's the typing though? Comapre it to PictoChat! If it's better/as good as the PictoChat typing, then I'm happy! Animal Crossing typing is too delayed... Smilie

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

It's a shame we can't judge how popular it's been as it isn't tracked by Media Create in Japan.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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