Nintendo DSi XL Review

Nintendo’s blown-up DSi XL offers a more immersive experience, but may not be worth the upgrade for existing DS owners.
Nintendo’s blown-up DSi XL offers a more immersive experience, but may not be worth the upgrade for existing DS owners.
Nintendo’s blown-up DSi XL offers a more immersive experience, but may not be worth the upgrade for existing DS owners.

Highs

  • Larger screen size
  • Still very portable
  • New matte finish offers better grip
  • Compatible with DS cartridges

Lows

  • Weak and overpriced titles
  • Same screen resolution as the DSi and DS Lite
  • Small number of preinstalled titles

DT Editors' Rating

nintendo dsi xl review

Introduction

If you subscribe to the belief that bigger is better, then you’ll be plenty happy to wrap your hands around the new Nintendo DSi XL.

As you might’ve guessed, the XL stands for “extra large” because Nintendo’s new portable gaming system, which sells for $189.99, features two huge 4.2-inch screens, each 93 percent larger than those on the Nintendo DS Lite.

Background

With more than 125 million Nintendo DS units sold worldwide to date, which makes it the best-selling video game platform on the planet, why would Nintendo supersize the system now? According to Nintendo, gamers simply asked for bigger screens, plus the improved wider viewing angle means friends can better see the action or play together (for example, the upcoming Photo Dojo game lets two players battle together on the same machine).

The regular Nintendo DS Lite ($129.99) and Nintendo DSi ($169.99) are still available, too, so consider the Nintendo DSi XL as a supplement, rather than a replacement, for Nintendo’s older hardware.

nintendo dsi xl review

Bigger Screen, Same Resolution

While the two screens are much bigger, Nintendo didn’t upgrade the screen quality, therefore the Nintendo DSi XL has the same so-so resolution as the Nintendo DSi and Nintendo DS Lite before that (256 x 192 pixel resolution; 260,000 colors).

In fact, this is the same resolution as the original silver Nintendo DS that launched in 2004.

Perhaps it’s because upgrading the resolution means the machine wouldn’t be compatible with existing games, but it’s too bad Nintendo couldn’t at least match the quality of the Sony PlayStation Portable (480 x 272 pixels; 16.77 million colors).

Testing and Usage

As with its best-selling predecessors, the bottom display remains touch-sensitive, allowing you to use your fingertip or the bundled stylus pens to interact with the digital content. One stylus is small enough to fit into the back of the system, while a larger one found in the box is the size of a thick ballpoint.

Despite its larger size — 6.3 inches wide by 3.6 inches long by 0.8 inches tall – this handheld system is still svelte enough to bring virtually anywhere, plus a new matte finish on the bottom results in a better grip. That said, the Nintendo DSi XL won’t likely fit into the pocket of kids’ jeans, and because of the extra size and weight (now 11.08 ounces, compared to the Nintendo DSi’s 7.5 ounces), younger players might opt to place it on a table or lap for extended play.

Playing games on the larger screens makes a big difference, whether it’s on the just-launched Warioware: D.I.Y. or The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks or with Nintendo’s new “lifestyle” titles that aren’t games at all. This includes the new America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking (300 recipes and video tutorials) and the upcoming 100 Classic Books due out in June (timeless literature from the public domain, including works from William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Jane Austen and Jules Verne). Yes, the Nintendo DSi XL will soon be an e-book reader of sorts, too.

nintendo dsi xl review

As with the Nintendo DSi, this extra-large model also features two cameras (one to snap your friends and one pointing at you), a voice recorder (with fun effects studio) and the ability to play your digital music collection stored on optional SD memory cards (AACs instead of MP3s, however).

The Nintendo DSi XL still takes the Nintendo DS game cartridges (this is where parents breathe a sigh of relief), plus the Wi-Fi-enabled system also allows you to digitally download games and other software from the DSi Shop. Problem is, there isn’t much here yet worth your time, and what is available is overpriced (in comparison to, say, Apple’s online App Store). Most titles at the DSi Shop are either 500 or 800 Nintendo DSi Points ($5 or $8), compared to thousands of quality games you can buy for the iPod touch at $1 to $3.

While Nintendo has added some preinstalled titles to entice shoppers, they really haven’t gone above and beyond here. This includes a Brain Age sampler (Brain Age Express: Math and Brain Age Express: Arts & Letters) and two pieces of software that are free to download anyway: the Nintendo DSi Browser and Flipnote Studio. Even one full game would’ve been nice.

Conclusion

Here’s the bottom line: the Nintendo DSi XL is probably not worth the upgrade if you already own a Nintendo DSi, because it’s essentially the same machine but, er, bigger. On the flipside, the DSi XL is only $20 more than the DSi, so if you’re in the market for a new gaming device for the kids (or for kids at heart, like mom and dad), be sure to reach for this supersized model.

Highs:

  • Larger screen size
  • Still very portable
  • New matte finish offers better grip
  • Compatible with DS cartridges

Lows:

  • Weak and overpriced titles
  • Same screen resolution as the DSi and DS Lite
  • Small number of preinstalled titles
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

Work and play anywhere with these portable, large-screen monitors

Via a recent and successful Kickstarter campaign by Unick, a new line of portable, large-screen monitors has been announced. The Gemini Taihe line of monitors offers two models: the Gemini FHD and the Gemini UHD.
Mobile

How to choose an iPad in 2019: A practical guide to Apple’s tablets

Selecting an iPad from Apple's lineup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Our comprehensive guide should put the numbers and specs in practical, easy-to-understand terms. Find your ideal iPad with the help of our guide.
Deals

Need a new tablet? The best iPad deals for January 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.
Mobile

Get $100 discount on the Razer Phone 2 for a limited time

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.
Gaming

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Gaming

Goodbye, Machinima: YouTube gaming channel pulls the plug after 13 years

Machinima, a YouTube gaming channel that was launched in 2006, has suddenly shut down, with all of its videos set to private. The #RIPMachinima hashtag is now making the rounds in social media to reminisce about the channel's content.
Gaming

These are the best indie games you can get on PC right now

Though many indie games now come to consoles as well, there's still a much larger selection on PC. With that in mind, we've created a list of the best indie games for PC, with an emphasis on games that are only available on PC.
Gaming

This list of PlayStation 4 exclusives puts its competitors to shame

The PlayStation 4's game library and incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.
Gaming

Overkill’s ‘The Walking Dead’ delayed indefinitely for PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Overkill's The Walking Dead for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have been postponed without a new release date. The co-op zombie shooter suffered massive delays, then received lukewarm reviews once it launched for the PC through Steam.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Gaming

How you can give your PS4 a fresh start with a factory reset

Learn the many ways you can factory reset your PS4. From reverting your settings to factory to doing a full wipe and reinstalling the latest PlayStation firmware, we cover it all here, step by step.
Gaming

Can't stand keyboard gaming on PC? Here's how to use a PS3 controller instead

Properly connecting a PlayStation 3 Controller to a PC is no easy task, especially when you opt for third-party peripherals. Thankfully, our guide will help you through the process.
Product Review

‘Resident Evil 2' is a terrifying new virus you'll want to catch

Resident Evil 2 brings the Raccoon City incident to a new generation of players, acting both as a nostalgic throwback and a thoroughly modern horror game with some of the best visuals of the generation.