Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
05 November 2008
Why I'm impressed with the DSi
I must be losing touch. I only heard about Nintendo's next DS, the DSi, today. I've been fairly seriously combating a jonesin' for an Apple iPod touch recently. I'd like to be able to take advantage of wifi without lugging around a laptop -- and without having to feel like I need to write detailed responses or get work done. The touch does that for me. I tried out an iPhone keyboard recently, and it stinks. I ain't typin' much on that.

So when I heard about the DSi, I was intrigued. It's got WiFi and a browser, so I'm already interested. Apparently it's going to run US$130, which is a fair chunk less than the touch. I also can't find my old DS, so I could finally play those games Matt loaned me years ago... and I hear that Civ is on the DS. ;^) The addition of a camera is nice -- not sure I need two -- and the SD slot has me intrigued.

I'm not the only one intrigued at SD. Here's a bit from Geekdad at

Will it play MP3s? One purpose of the addition of this SD slot is that the DSi will also act as a music device. Notice that I said music device and not MP3 player. Rather than MP3 playback, the handheld will instead support AAC files. While the AAC file type is often described as having superior sound quality to the ubiquitous MP3, it certainly lacks its familiarity. And while the addition of functionality like speed and pitch control for songs sounds interesting, it's also doubtful that the machine will be replacing your iPod when it comes to music playback.

Now that's smart. Not that it won't play mp3s. I'm betting it will. It's out now, and I guess we should know, but even if it doesn't now, it's a matter of time, right? Maybe that'll be something you buy in the DSi store.

What's smart is that the DSi plays AAC. Now that Jobs has thrown his weight behind DRM-less tracks on the iTunes Music Store front, Nintendo is calling his bluff. Recently, iTunes swapped from mp3 to AAC as the default format for ripping CDs (though when I say "recently", I mean at some point since OS X was released). iTunes+ tracks are DRM-free, but are still in AAC format. I've started buying from Amazon's mp3 store when I can precisely to escape this nearly iPod-only file format so that I can listen to all of my music easily in cheap mp3 players, car stereos, etc. Many AAC tracks might be DRM free, but they have been, up until now, largely Apple player only files in practice. It's simply too much trouble to burn AAC to CD and rip to mp3, and even I'm too lazy to dig up the software that rips out the DRM and converts. And if you've ripped 30 CDs into AAC, do you really want to start over?

Now those not savvy enough to know how to hit Ctrl-, and change their prefs before importing CDs and those who have been buying iTunes+ tracks have an extra platform for listening to their music. Rather than AAC tying you to buying an iPod, now you've got a real second option.

That's smart.
--ruffin at 20:03
Comment [ 6 ]

Comments on this post:

If the DSi is using the same Opera browser you can currently get for the DS, you might want to try this out first. IMHO, browsing on the iPhone is a superior web-browsing experience over the DS browser.

By Blogger Dan, at 06 November, 2008 01:11  

Plus, if you're a fan of homebrew, the DSi has problems with most of the slot 1 carts, like M3 DS Simply and R4 DS.

It's also not clear if DSi supports SDHC, which would mean you can use only 2GB SD at most. And if you're interested in playing MP3s, that limitation would bite.

By Blogger guttertalk, at 06 November, 2008 02:15  

Yeah, I suppose I should give the browser a shot. I've been meaning to do that. The reviews weren't bad. iPhone/touch browsing is fine, but then I really just want to check email and maybe when I need a break.

Luckily for me, I don't listen to much more than 2 gigs of sound at a time. I have less than 2.25 on my laptop as it is (though much more on the tower). That probably puts me in under most DS owners, admittedly.

And though I support homebrew in theory, that's not a dealbreaker these days for me.

I suppose the bottom line is that if the browser is passably good and the $130 price (which now seems more like a typo at is accurate, I could consider dealing with having a DS in my pocket along with a $100 bill over a touch. ;^) I'll probably wait and see if someone gets Skype or some other VOIP working on the touch, if they haven't already (apparently the touch supports mike in now).

By Blogger ruffin, at 06 November, 2008 08:53  

An article that talks about the DSi browser.

By Blogger Dan, at 17 November, 2008 03:05  

"An article that talks about the DSi browser."

Ouch. Thanks Dan. That doesn't really hold a candle to Safari on the touch, does it? I've been slowly moving my way over in the touch's direction. I'd like to play DS games on the move using the same machine that browses, etc, but am afraid my so-called grown-up responsibilities, which seem better represented on the touch, might win out.

By Blogger ruffin, at 17 November, 2008 11:57  

There are a number of players which have supported AAC for a while -- most notably the Zune. There are plenty of criticisms one could make of Apple, but "AAC is the default format to lock people in!" shouldn't be one of them. It really does (in my opinion) sound better.

By Blogger peterb, at 07 December, 2008 10:48  

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