If you already own a DSi, the DSi XL is probably not for you. That’s not to say it’s not for anyone; it’s the same device as the DSi, just bigger. And that’s it: it’s for people who want bigger.
I don’t want to spend too much time guessing as to what demographic would prefer a larger screen that has the same size resolution—which just makes for larger pixels and NOT a sharper image. So real quickly: people with impaired vision, slightly older folks, people with problems with eye strain, people with larger hands and people who don’t use their DSi outside of their homes. All these people would benefit from a larger screen—which is basically the only difference, because it plays exactly the same games as the DSi.
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As stated, the XL’s screen is just bigger than the DSi’s screen. It’s not noticeably better or brighter. It might be a tiny bit whiter than the DSi we have, but we’re not sure if that’s just due to age, or that the color is just ever-so-slightly more white. In any case, it’s negligible.
Each individual pixel in the 256×192 panel is just bigger. Practically speaking, it makes everything a bit hazier and a bit blurrier, but the screen is larger, though not so large that it actually makes a difference in gameplay. Your eye just needs to move slightly further when you have to look from one place to another.
Because of its larger bulk, the DSi XL feels more solid than the DSi or the DS Lite. Instead of an all-around matte finish, the top is a glossy, fingerprint-attracting smooth surface, whereas the bottom is a more grippy matte affair. Other than this, almost all the buttons, switches and charging ports are exactly the same as the DSi. But instead of just having two slits for the right and left speakers, there are actually 7 holes on each that give the portable console a much less tinny sound. I wouldn’t say that it’s great, but it is better. And surprisingly enough
Unless you insist on carrying around your DS in your pocket at all times, the DSi XL isn’t atrociously larger than its predecessor. It’s still a portable device that you can easily pull in and out when you want to play. And yes, it still does fit into pockets, if pants are where you want to store it.
How it feels
Other than being heavier and the screen being larger, there’s not a whole lot of difference between the XL and the DSi. The buttons are in the same places (not spaced further apart or anything), and the D pad is still the D pad. No learning curve necessary.
So what’s the deal?
Like we said, this DSi XL is probably not for you, especially if you already own a DSi. It might be for your parents, who you showed Brain Training to a few years ago but they put down after a few minutes because they couldn’t focus for long periods of time on such a small screen. Or, it could be with someone with vision problems for medical reasons, who really wanted a portable console but needed something with more display.
This is one of those throw-away iterations of the handheld (like the Game Boy Advance SP) that Nintendo puts out every few years as a “new item” between actual new items. It’s charming as a sort of novelty product, but if Nintendo really wants this to cater to the older crowd, we’re not sure they went far enough. The buttons are the same size, and the stylus isn’t much bigger either. So as far as the interface goes, there’s no adaptation to the needs people who weren’t quite capable of using the old DSi.
But hey, if you’re brand new to the DS ecosystem (where’ve you been?), maybe you should consider the DSi XL instead of just the DSi. It’s only about $20 more than a standard DSi, and if you don’t mind the extra weight, the experience is exactly the same. [Amazon]
Only $20 more than DSi
Does exactly the same stuff as the DSi—it’s just bigger
Screen resolution is not improved, so pixels are larger and the screen is slightly blurry overall