Nintendo DSi XL blueNintendo DSi XL Review

Our rating: 4 stars

The Nintendo DSi XL console is the latest portable from the company that has dominated the handheld gaming market since the release of the first Gameboy way back in 1989. In the 20+ years that have followed they have continued to release new models, each an improvement on the last.

However, more recently Nintendo have only been making small changes with each upgrade and they have attracted criticism for expecting consumers to pay over and over for only slightly improved devices. The DSi XL seems to continue this trend, being a bigger version of the DSi but not noticeably different in any other respect than size.

But is there more to the Nintendo DSi XL console than meets the eye at first glance? Let’s take a look.

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Nintendo DSi XL Video

Nintendo DSi XL Features

Nintendo DSi XL boxedNintendo DSi XL price: up to $169
Battery life: 3-14 hrs
Dimensions: 6.3 x 3.6 x 0.8 inch
Weight: 7.6 oz
Screen resolution: 256 x 192 px
Screen size: 4.2 inch (both screens)
Colors: Blue, Rose, Burgundy, Bronze (almost black)

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What’s Great About The Nintendo DSi XL

Screen Size

Nintendo DSi XL compare with DSi

Size comparison: DSi on the left, DSi XL on the right (not actual size!)

The great selling point of the DSi XL (and the reason for its development) is the big screen. Users found the original DSi and 3DS screens just too small for comfortable play, and Nintendo have developed the DSi XL and 3DS XL to remedy this.

The DSi XL has two screens, both 4.2 inches. This gives a screen area almost twice the size of the regular DSi, so it does make a big difference. It’s easier to see and to hit targets, as well as being less of a strain for the eyes.

Another aspect of the XL size is that there’s a little more space around the controls. This is great news for older gamers – you won’t feel like the device was designed for tiny hands any more.

Pre-Installed Games

When you buy Nintendo DSi XL you have the unusual bonus of gaming right out of the box with three pre-installed games: Brain Age Express Math, Brain Age Express Arts and Letters, and Photo Clock. Sure, they aren’t exactly A list titles, but this has its advantages. For example it means you can give this as a gift and have the person be able to play while they get to buy Nintendo DSi XL games that they really want.

DSi XL Colors

Nintendo DSi XL colorsThe DSi XL has already been released in several colors and more may be on the way if it’s successful. Right now you get to choose from Midnight Blue, Metallic Rose, Burgundy and Bronze. The Bronze is the closest to a black. They all look stunning and they are well finished, with a professional look and feel.
View all DSi XL colors

Hardware Quality

Nintendo are known for producing devices with top build quality and the DSi XL is no exception. The console looks and feels good. It’s heavy enough that it feels like a serious piece of hardware without being so heavy that it’s clunky. It seems strong and sturdy and should survive the knocks that a portable device tends to get from time to time.

Internet Browser

Yes, you can browse the internet on the DSi XL. You just need a WiFi network to connect to and you’re online.


You can use the device to play music, so you can store a selection of tracks to listen to and then use it as an MP3 player if you want. Of course, compared with a good quality MP3 player it’s pretty basic, but it does the job.

The sound quality is another feature that Nintendo have improved in the development of the XL version of the DSi. Where the original DSi’s sound quality was a little poor, the audio on the XL is richer and clearer, especially on the deeper notes.

What’s Not So Great

Screen Resolution

When Nintendo increased the size of the DSi screen for the XL version, they didn’t increase the screen resolution at the same time. The result is that the graphics are not the sharpest you will see. They’re acceptable but not as crisp as the graphics on Sony’s PSP 3000, and nowhere near the standard of the PS Vita.

Limited Compatibility

There are no dedicated Nintendo DSi XL games. The DSi XL takes Nintendo DS games. So there’s no problem if that’s what you mostly have.

However, unlike the original DSi, the XL version will not play Gameboy Advance games. This is annoying if that’s your current device.

If you’re upgrading from the smaller DSi, you cannot just transfer your downloaded games across to the new device. You have to download them all again and you may have to pay again. That’s very frustrating!

Less Portable

Because of its increased size, the DSi XL is naturally less easy to fit into your pockets than the regular DSi. However, it’s still significantly smaller than the PS Vita.

No Video

Unlike its PlayStation handheld competitors, there’s no video player on the DSi XL, so despite the browsing and the music, it’s not a complete multimedia device. This is probably not going to be a deal-breaker for most buyers but it would be nice to have that extra capability so you could watch a movie on your device on a long trip if you were tired of games.

Nintendo DSi XL Review Summary

Our rating: 4 stars

We think the lastest generation of PlayStation handhelds have the edge over Nintendo. If you’re not attached to the Nintendo brand already, take a look at the PSP 3000 before you buy Nintendo DSi XL.

For Nintendo fans, you might want to look at our Nintendo 3DS XL review before you decide. It’s a little more expensive but it has the ‘wow’ factor of offering 3D graphics for games that support this.

And if you already have the original DSi? Upgrading will be worthwhile if you find it too small, but if you’re happy with your regular DSi you might as well stick with it. The XL has very little to offer you besides the bigger screen, and you’ll find it frustrating having to redownload your games.

In summary, the Nintendo DSi XL is worth having if you like Nintendo and don’t have a recent release. It’s not perfect but it’s still a step up from the older portable game consoles and you won’t regret the purchase.

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Nintendo DSi XL Review

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