Japanese games giant Nintendo is launching a new-look version of its popular DS handheld games console.
The console, called the Nintendo DSi, can be used to take photos, download games and play music. The DSi will go on sale in Japan on Nov 1, and will be available to European and American gamers in spring 2009.
The DSi has two 0.3-megapixel cameras, and a slightly larger screen than its predecessor, along with a thinner form factor. It will feature a memory card slot, so that gamers can play music saved on a SD card through the device. However, Nintendo has removed the GameBoy Advance cartridge slot on the DSi that made previous versions of the DS backwards-compatible with GameBoy games.
Nintendo said it had sold more than 77.5 million DS consoles worldwide since the device first went on sale in 2004. The DSi will cost YEN18,900 (under $180 this week) when it goes on sale.
Nintendo’s decision to release an updated version of the DS is seen in part as a response to the threat posed by Apple, whose iPhone and iPod touch music players feature motion-sensing technology and can also be used to play computer games on the go.The machine has been a big hit with people of all ages and backgrounds, Iwata said, adding that 54 percent of Nintendo DS users were women.
Looks like tighter competition between Nintendo and Apple in the future – given the gaming features added to the iPhone and iPod Touch. Nintendo just needs to add a phone to the DSi and it could get really down and dirty.