Nintendo DSi to Tout Camera, Music Features

Sometimes the rumor-mill is almost dead-on: Nintendo has unveiled the latest device of its handheld gaming juggernaut, the Nintendo DSi (Japanese), adding music and camera capabilities to the dual-screened gaming device, and potentially helping the vastly popular platform keep its edge over increased competition from the likes of Sony, Apple, and mobile phones.

The Nintendo DSi is slimmer than its predecessors, and offers two 3.25-inch 256 by 192 pixel internal displays. The unit will also feature an SD slot for storage (Nintendo hasn’t yet said whether it will handle SDHC media), two on-board cameras: a front-facing VGA camera, and an external three megapixel camera. Nintendo says the DSi is also about 12 percent slimmer than its predecessor, but the DSi is sticking with the previous models’ single touchscreen and integrated Wi-Fi. The company plans to put the unit on sale in Japan beginning November 1 for ¥18,900, which is an increase from the ¥16,800 Nintendo charges for the current model, but still undersells Sony’s PSP. The company hasn’t said when it plans to bring the DSi to overseas markets, but it likely won’t be until 2009..

Nintendo also announced plans for an online “DSi Shop” which will sell content, applications, and games directly to DSi users via Wi-Fi: one of the applications will be a Web browser, presumably based on Opera. Users will be able to cash in Nintendo Points (formerly known as Wii Points) at the DSi Shop, and each DSi unit sold in Japan will come with 1,000 points through March 1, 2010. (Presumably, Nintendo will offer similar point deals with the DSi in overseas markets.)

The Nintendo DS handheld platform has been a runaway success for the company, outselling every other portable video game platform—and consoles, for that matter—handily in the U.S. and in other worldwide markets. In Japan the situation isn’t so rosy, with the newly revised PSP handily outselling the Nintendo DS in the six month leading up to September. Nonetheless, the Nintendo DS’s market penetration is admirable: as Nintendo president Satoru Iwata told a news conference announcing the DSi, roughly one in every six people in Japan has the Nintendo DS.

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