Nintendo have announced a European launch date of March 5 for the latest version of their super-popular DS handheld, the trend-busting DSi XL which, unlike most hardware updates isn’t smaller and sleeker, it’s bigger. The DSi XL launched in Japan on November 21, 2009 and is known there as the DSi LL. No date has been specified for a North American launch but a similar announcement is expected shortly.
The DS, a 2004 handheld gaming and leisure device, has been revised twice before. The summer 2006 ‘DS Lite’ was a lighter, brighter, and slimmer version of the original machine. The ‘DSi’ was released towards the end of 2008 and contained significantly improved internals, the ability to download trial versions of games from Nintendo’s DSiWare store, and two low-resolution digital cameras.
The original size of the DS dual screens had been kept at 7.6 cm (3 inches) for the DS Lite, then increased ever so slightly to 8.25 cm (3.25 in) on the DSi. However, the new Nintendo DSi XL sports two 10.6 cm (4.2 in) screens, and comes with not only the standard cotton-bud sized stylus but also a new touch-screen pointer that’s shaped just like a normal, 13 cm (5.1 in) long pen to make it more appealing to those that found the standard stylus too fiddly.
Like Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony have both been issuing updates to their consoles to extend their lifespan and attract new customers. Sony’s slimlined September update to the PlayStation 3 crossover console / media center has been a roaring success, boosting sales worldwide. Sony’s CEO quoted a December sales figure of 3.7 million units. The brand’s handheld competitor to the DS, the PSP, also recieved a makeover in October and became the more compact PSP Go, a sliding screen digital download device which eschews the use of the discs that previous PSP models use.
Microsoft has also been talking up its new motion-tracking peripheral for the Xbox 360, named Project Natal, which they plan to introduce later in 2010 in order to compete with the Nintendo Wii’s motion control interface. Previously, they had upgraded the 360 with a high-definition graphics output and larger internal hard drives. The DSi LL went on sale in Japan at a price of ¥20,000. The European model is expected to retail at an equivalent of €150 ($220), though no price point has been confirmed.