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Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Summertime...etc. etc.

You know, I really should post these entries when I'm thinking about it instead of trying to adhere to a schedule. As usual, things got busy and I wasn't able to make my entry when I usually do. Sorry about that.

Yes, it's summertime and hotter than usual around here. Needless to say, the extra heat plays havoc with delicate electronic components. I've heard that Microsoft has decided to extend the warranty on their XBox 360 systems to 3 years. Fortunately, all is well with the XBox in our house so far. Which is more than I can say for the mysterious malady that's affecting most of the headphones around here. Moving on...

As promised, I'm presenting a review of the Nintendo DS Browser. This product is a real Opera internet browser that takes advantage of the Nintendo DS built-in wifi capability. If your DS is already configured to use a wifi hub, then you can use your DS to surf the net in a matter of seconds. There are limitations, of course. The DS display isn't sharp enough for you to see your average page in the layout you may be used to. Fortunately, the browser has two configurations that either squeezes the page into the narrow DS aspect ratio, or a preview mode that lets you drag a magnifying window across the screen. Wait, I'm just getting started with the limitations. It's slow. 56k modem slow. And while you're waiting for your page to update, don't sneeze or it may start up all over again. Because of the speed limitations, you can forget about streaming video, music, shockwave and flash. The makers decided to leave those things out entirely. Also, cookies, downloads, etc - forget about those too. The only thing it will save are the bookmarks you decide to add to your favorites page. Everything else gets dumped from the memory as soon as possible - it just doesn't have the bandwidth for it.

The biggest problem I have with it is not the product itself but how they decided to market it. As you might know, Nintendo followed up the release of the Nintendo DS with the slimmer, "Lite" version of the product. Both products function the same, including having a second port for GameBoy Advance (GBA) cartridges. On the DS Lite, the GBA cartridge sticks out a bit, but still works. The DS Browser uses that second port for a memory cartridge for the browser. So, the marketing department had a choice - distribute the browser to stores with a full-sized cartridge that would fit all DS units, or distribute it with a scaled-down cartridge that only fits in the DS Lite units. You guessed it, they chose to disregard to users who bought their first products in favor of those who bought the new one. This is the sort of behavior I'd expect from Sony, not Nintendo. Users of the original DS can either buy an appropriately sized cartridge directly from Nintendo or do like I did and pull the board from the Lite cartridge and drop it into an old GBA cartridge that's collecting dust (this requires a small bit of effort, but I'll post the steps for anyone that's interested).

So here's the bottom line. Compared to other means of surfing the internet, the DS browser falls far short. Once the novelty has worn off, you might be using this browser on those occasions when you just don't have access to a regular computer or laptop. Certainly, I've found it useful when I needed to look up a picture of a llama or Steve Jobs and didn't want to get off the couch to do so. As I mentioned before, it boots up far quicker than your average computer. If you don't have a laptop or you're just nostalgic for 56k surfing, this might be the product for you. Otherwise, I'd suggest giving it a pass.

Coming up next - a review of Meteos Disney Magic.

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I'm really surprised that the DS and the PSP aren't better internet devices.

Honestly, how hard can it be?! And they're missing a really big market for folks who want to surf the smaller screens.

It's understandable with Nintendo - they eschew most of the "added features" that distract from their device's primary function as a game machine.

After all, you could play games on your digital camera or MP3 player - I recall one group of folks on a forum going through all sorts of hoops just so they could play Gameboy games on an MP3 player - sure it's possible, but really, why bother? You want portable games, just get a Gameboy and use your MP3 player for listening to music.
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