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Nintendo 3DS Hardware Review

7 min read

I’ve had the Nintendo 3DS for a couple of days now and while I haven’t gotten through all the inbuilt software yet it is about time we posted up a bit about the actual hardware.

This is the first time I have had such a long time with the device and as such it’s the first time the faults are starting to show, so without further delay lets get into the Good, the bad and the ugly about the Nintendo 3DS’s hardware.

The Good

As you would expect from Nintendo the 3DS is very well put together with everything fitting just right and feeling solid enough to know that it’s a quality piece of machinery.

The most important thing of all would be the 3D screen which in fact does allow you to view 3D pictures without the need for glasses. The general reaction I have received from people who have tried it is absolute astonishment at how good the 3D really is. Unfortunately I have a problem with my left eye which renders it less effective than the right which means while I can see the 3D it does make me start feeling queasy pretty quickly.

This doesn’t seem to happen with the rest of the family though and thanks to the 3D slider I can simply tone down the 3D as I start feeling off.

The X,A,B and Y buttons feel fantastic under thumb with just the right amount of pressure being felt as you press the buttons and a nice solid ‘click’ sound as they hit the bottom. You can imagine mashing these buttons for hours without any painful side effects and each button mash being received by the 3DS.

The D-Pad has the same clicky feel to it and is super responsive to your touch which bodes well for the upcoming fighting games like Super Street Fighter IV and Dead or Alive Dimensions.

overview_0005_circle-padBut if we are talking about good controls then you can’t go past the Analog Stick which, while solitary, is near on perfect. It’s very similar to the ones found on the PSP however this one is slightly larger, indented and far more responsive. Part of this feeling could be from the fact that there is a recess around the stick so that while it doesn’t stick out very far it does have a spacious area to move in without your thumb getting caught on the sides.

Under the screen there are 3 more buttons (Select, Home, Start) which are more like labels on a flat strip that can be depressed. The benefit here is that it’s going to be pretty tough to accidently press Home while playing a game.

The Home button exists because the Nintendo 3DS has a mini sort of multiprocessing ability where you can exit your game and go change some settings or view Notes before heading back. You cannot however run 2 big applications at the same time.

The 3DS camera is a great addition and while we can only view the 3D images on the 3DS for now it’s a great party trick and for taking those awesome spy photos while in Factories or back stage.

Unfortunately though the quality isn’t fantastic

Once again we have a microphone on the 3DS which after some limited testing has proven itself to be more than good enough for what’s required.

As I’ve mentioned before the 3DS has a layer cake design with each layer being a different colour, the top of mine is a slightly opaque glittery blue with the middle being a slightly lighter glittery blue and the bottom a light blue. I didn’t originally like this design but I have to admit it’s growing on me.

The other good things that don’t need much explanation are that we get a 2Gb SD card bundled with the 3DS, this is upgradeable with any standard SD card. There are 3 cameras meaning that one points in so you can take those wonderful self portraits you always wanted.

The screens are a great resolution with the top being 800×240 or 400×240 in 3D and the bottom touch screen being 320×240.

The 3DS is backwards compatible which means that even if you don’t like the launch titles you can still pick one up for it’s awesomeness and use your old games on it.

The battery should last between 3-5 hours in game time using 3D or 5-8 hours without the 3D.

The Bad

Unfortunately it’s not all good with the 3DS, while none of these are show stoppers they are something I expect will be improved in the next iteration.

overview_0000_stylus-150x150The stylus, it’s horrible… actually that’s a lie. The stylus itself is fine and the extending ability doesn’t phase me one bit but the placement of the stylus, at the back next to the game card slot is ill advised and makes it nearly impossible to remove the stylus without physically turning the 3DS around to see what’s going on.

This is partly because the stylus fits exceptionally snugly which means it won’t fall out but is also much harder to remove.

The shoulder buttons are placed where expected but they lack the solid feeling the rest of the controls have, they wobble around a bit and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to start hearing stories about them becoming dislodged after continuous use.

The hinges… the arch nemesis of DS units the world over. I have a feeling the hinges may become a problem again as they just feel a little bit to wobbly when the 3DS isn’t entirely open. It’s not a major problem at all but expect these to be tightened up with each iteration of the 3DS.

The last issue I have really isn’t much of an issue but rather a request, it’s great that we are receiving a cradle with the 3DS but the 3DS doesn’t click into the cradle it simply seems to rest in it which leads me to checking that it’s in and charging every time. A simply lock would make this just that much better.

The Ugly

There really isn’t that much ugly about the 3DS so I’m going to change this section into The Unknown instead of The Ugly.

The big unknown at the moment appears to be the infrared port on the back of the device, the best reason I’ve seen so far is that you can use the port to trade Pokemon or other in game characters. Hopefully Nintendo find an awesome use for this, say like a universal remote control.

There is also an icon for an Internet browser that hasn’t yet been released so I can’t say how well that works but it’s never been a selling point for me so I’m not overly phased whether it ever makes it in or not.

The current included software library is

  • DS Download Play
  • 3DS Camera
  • 3DS Download Play
  • 3DS Messaging System
  • 3DS Sound
  • 3D Videos
  • Activity Log
  • AR Games
  • Face Raiders
  • Mii Maker
  • StreetPass Mii Plaza
  • StreetPass

I’ll post some mini reviews of the software throughout the week but I can already tell you that Face Raiders is awesome fun and in the StreetPass Mii Plaza there is a mini RPG game that looks to be quite addictive. However to gather hero’s you need to go walkies with your 3DS as it has a pedometer built in and for every 100 steps you get a coin and the hero’s in the game cost 2 coins each to start.

Or you can get heroes by using StreetPass which is impossible here since the 3DS hasn’t been released yet.

That about wraps things up on the hardware side, in a nutshell the 3DS is an amazing piece of technology that is going to sell bucket loads. It’s well worth picking up if you have the available finances and I don’t see any price drop on the horizon what with the amount of demand that is clearly out there.


Last Updated: March 18, 2011

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