***All pictures taken curteousy of lik-sang.com Nintendo DS start-up: At first boot, there is a step by step guide menu that will lead you to configure your DS, asking you type in your nickname, time, date, birthday etc. There is also an optional touch screen calibration if you feel that the touch is a bit out of whack. What can be a bit annoying when configuring the system in any way is that you have to reboot the system to able to save in memory. Not a big deal, but noticeable. Nintendo DS Accessories: Nintendo DS is now being sold worldwide for around 149.99$ US with a standard package that includes: - Nintendo DS (built-in Picto-chat) - AC Adapter - Rechargeable Battery pack - Thumb Strap/Hand strap - Two stylus pens - Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt Demo (playable) - DS Booklet Nintendo DS hardware/software features: This device is packed with many features for a low price. DS incorporates a clamshell design good for protecting its screens from damage; it has dual black-lit 3 inch 256 x 192 resolution screens, the top one having a removable protective filter, and the bottom being coated with anti-scratch resistance because of its touch screen capability. The DS also has an embedded internal microphone for games that may use voice recognition and in the near future VoIP (voice over ip). As for sound, it has two big external speakers that support rich virtual surround sound. I dont need to mention it also has a headphone jack do I? Moreover, I noticed an additional port next to the GBA port which has now been confirmed by Nintendo will be used for connecting head-sets for future online games As for its networking capabilities, its pretty standard technology for these days. It has a built-in 802.11 wireless adapter that supports 2 types of protocols, one for LAN gaming, Nifi, and the other Wifi for online gaming. What makes NDS unique in this respect is "Download play" in which you can send other NDS'es with no game, the same game you have, so you guys can play multiplayer with each other. An ingenious feature that I admire a lot from Nintendo because it removes the hassle of trying to get a LAN game with your DS friends because they dont have the game that you want to play. Most games support this feature on NDS. Yet, the biggest feature I believe people will very much enjoy in the DS is its backwards capability with Gameboy Advanced games, which means DS already has a huge library of software to choose from. On the other hand, I am pretty much convinced if Nintendo hadnt added the GBA port, I definitely think DS would be much thinner than it is now. Hypothetically, which do you think is more advantageous is up for you to decide, but Nintendo it seems, decided already for us. *Oh! I forgot to mention that NDS also comes with built-in free LAN software called Picto-Chat in which you are able to draw, type and play any kind of sketch game with other DS owners nearby and maybe even cheat at in-class exams Nintendo DS storage: The DS cartridges are noticeably smaller than the GBA carts; they are roughly the same size as a standard SD media card used for devices such as Pocket PCs and digital cameras. Currently the standard storage space for these cartridges is about 1 gigabit which is around 128 megabytes. It has been said by Nintendo that this is not a restricted size and that these cards can store more than that if needed. Of course, that would increase price of manufacturing. I know a lot of people debate which type of format is good for the consumer, and I will properly lay them down for you in regards to the NDS. Advantages: - The best part about these cartridges is that they have absolutely no load times!!! Game loading is non-existent. - The second advantage of these cards being that you wont need to go buy a memory card to save your games as these cartridges have built-in ram for your convenience. - They are tough, and when I mean tough, I mean dropping one in the laundry machine and come out perfectly fine and working with no problems. Dont ask how this happened! - These cartridges are RSA secured, which pretty much means they will be hard to hack. - No motor sounds or heat, since its solid state media while disc type media requires a motor to spin the disc so it can read data. Obviously, with every technology there are some disadvantages. And there is only 1 with NDS cartridges. Disadvantage: - The small capacity of data, compared to disc formats that can be stored on these cards because of manufacturing costs. This could hinder game experience if a developer needs more space for textures or sound. Nintendo DS controls: The NDS has a traditional digital 2d pad, four thumb buttons as well as two side shoulder buttons, pretty much the same design as an SNES game pad. But no one is buying the DS for its conventional controls. What about the touch screen?? Lets first take a look at its comfort factor. No longer do your thumbs get soar from hard pressing buttons nor get hand cramps from long use. This is heaven for left-handed people since you obviously can use the stylus or your fingers with whichever hand you want to. Not to mention, that most if not all DS games have several methods of controlling your games if you go in most options menus. I can tell you that Nintendo was right about it, its incredibly easy to play games with a touch screen. I simply love it and cant get enough of it. Hell, girls I know love to play with the touch screen cause no longer do you need to tell people who are inexperienced with gaming what button to press or what to do, because the touch seems so natural to anyone who handles a DS. I even read reviews of seniors and fathers buying a DS for them selves cause of medical conditions in which the control barrier in conventional systems would dissuade them from playing or purchasing. Now I must admit there is a thing that is lacking for the DS that has been tackled by Nintendo before its launch and that is an analog stick/nub. This was an annoying problem with the DS, especially for 3D adventure/platform games where Nintendo who pioneered this control technology evidently sold us the argument that you cant play these games without a kickass analog stick. So how did Nintendo remedy this problem? By adding a thumb strap, which is a piece of accessory that comes with the NDS where you wrap it on your thumb and on the tip has shoe like piece of plastic in which you will use to touch the screen with. I can tell you that its definitely not as effective as an analog stick, but rest assured that it works and works pretty well. I finished Mario 64 DS with all 150 stars within a week without a hitch using the thumb strap. Yes it does take time to get use to it, but when you do, its pretty easy to control. Nintendo DS Battery performance: This is the only part that I can safely say that I have no grudges about. Nintendo estimates that the battery lasts around 8-10 hours per charge, and they werent kidding. It would be times when I play the DS during my commuting for a week without charging. With all its hardware capabilities, it is amazing that the battery can last this long. Recharging takes around 4 hours. Nintendo like always, has created another efficient machine. Conclusion: I really enjoy playing games on the Nintendo DS. It has superb hardware capabilities as well as a new way of controlling games. Anyone who is thinking of getting one should get it for the right reason and that is a new gaming experience. There is no other console that will give you the same gaming experience than with Nintendo DS, not even Nintendos previous consoles. This machine is unique in almost all categories that I mentioned. It is a piece of equipment that I believe will once again standardize future handheld gaming. The only faults I see with the NDS are not having an analog stick, and its size. Its quite big for a handheld but still fits in most jackets, it did for me. I hope you enjoyed reading this review, because I enjoyed writing it.