Monday, October 26, 2009

My thoughts on the DSi revamp

Sorry for the gap in updates there... Things should be a little better from this point onward.

It was announced earlier today, quite out of nowhere, that there will be yet another DSi model released by the end of this year. Reading the details, I was, at first, feeling a little cheated. I'd just bought my DSi in April, and here they are announcing another one with far bigger screens retailing for the exact same price. I'd be holding my DSi-Mini while other people are walking about with their Mega-DSi systems and enjoying the extra 0.75" of screen (It doesn't sound like much, but it really is). Seems unfair to the millions of DSi owners out there, doesn't it?

Perhaps not. Let's look at the reasoning for this update. As was said ages ago, Nintendo would be using bigger screens in upcoming handhelds to accommodate the poorer eyesight of the elderly. The new DSi's 4.0" screens are sure to be far easier on elderly eyes than that screens of previous systems. There's nothing wrong with this, and in fact, I support it. The more people who get to enjoy gaming, the better.

Another reason given is a little unclear at this point. It's been said that these larger screens will help "expand use for the system to movies and digital books". This is all fine and good, but... The wording makes it seem like this won't be available for the original run of the DSi. Of course, this is coming from a Japanese newspaper, so for all we know, something was lost in translation. Still, it's a little odd that the original article wasn't more specific.

Could these new, bigger screens play host to software incompatible with the older DSi?

Also unclear at this point is whether or not this new model would come with any hardware upgrades. Technology advances at an alarming rate, and it's entirely possible that hardware superior to that included to the DSi would have dropped to an affordable price-point in the last year. Would Nintendo go through with it, though? Releasing DSi-exclusive software is already splitting the industry as is. Making software using the advanced-hardware of this upcoming model would just divide things up further. So while it's possible that this new DSi could sport some faster, more powerful innards, I don't see it as being very likely. Worry not, fellow DSi-owners!

One problem many have mentioned regarding these larger screens is the resolution. Making screens bigger is better, yes, but not if the resolution doesn't increase along with it. Allow me to simplify. The DSi's resolution is 256x192 pixels, spread across a 3.25" screen. If the new DSi's resolution stays the same, it will then be 256x192 pixels spread across a 4.0" screen. Basically, the same image will be stretched further, and it will appear to be of lower quality. Look at the below image for an example (View full-size).

The above image is merely to illustrate the difference. It's not an exact representation.

The screenshot on the left is the same size and resolution as what you'd find on a DSi screen. On the right is the same screenshot enlarged to the dimensions of the new DSi's screen, resulting in pixelation. It's bigger, but not exactly prettier. If Nintendo takes this path with the new DSi, their new customers will be getting bigger screens, but with poorer pictures. Upping the resolution won't change a thing, as DS software is made for 256x192 and nothing bigger. Future software may be adapted to this, providing a higher-resolution image on the new DSi, but the library would be limited, at least at first. So while the larger images would be easier on elderly eyes, younger, sharper-eyed players would notice the pixelation.

The bottom line is that this new DSi wasn't made with everyone in mind. It was made for the elderly. Less of a broad market, yes, but a valid market nonetheless. Chances are that this new DSi will be exactly like the ones in millions of hands around the world at this moment, but with larger, pixel-enlarging screens. Also, if they don't upgrade the hardware, there's no reason owners of the original DSi can't get in on the movie and digital book action, removing the possibility that owners of the new model will be receiving exclusive features. Rest easy, DSi owners, for it seems your recent handheld investment is safe. Even if it does turn out to be better, it will only be marginally so, and hardly worth worrying about. Those out there considering buying a DSi should put a hold on those plans for a bit to see how things play out, but everyone else can relax. Whatever the outcome, we'll still have one of the best damn handhelds ever made, and that's nothing to be sad about.

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1 comment:

Rawful said...

Wow. That's pretty lame.