3DS XL lands in Europe and Japan a week from now, with North America joining in on 19th August. There's been a justifiable temptation for some to readily dismiss the new model as a re-scaled 3DS with no actual technological improvements. While that's a true comment in terms of processors and graphics chips, the new model does bring other improvements beyond extra large screens.
The latest Iwata Asks interview includes members of the hardware team that was responsible for developing the XL model. It's an interesting read as it highlights the design processes and issues faced while producing the system, but we've picked out two particular sections as examples. The first is from Miyatake-san, who was involved in the Design Group.
As for something we haven't touched on yet, I'd like people to look at to how some aspects of operation have improved. The A, B, X and Y Buttons, as well as the +Control Pad are bigger and thicker, making them easier to use in play. In particular, we increased the thickness of the key tops height-wise for the L and R Buttons, so they're easier to use too.
And for Start, Select and Home Buttons, I had the designers work hard so the keys sink in a seesawing action. They have a long and thin key top, and wherever you press them, they sink right in.
And compared to past devices, the feeling of size when you hold it, as well as the impression it makes when you open it, are quite different from our past devices. Even though it's big, you don't sense that. I hope people will carry it around and play it everywhere.
Two other members of the team, Murakami-san and Tanaka-san, spoke about the top screen in particular and its improvements in restricting glare and enhancing the visual effect.
Murakami: Yes. On a LCD screen there are basically three reflective layers, which all of them reflects and cause glare. So this time, we specially treated all the layers. Reflectivity on the Nintendo 3DS was about 12%, but we decreased that to about 3%.
Iwata: Why were you able to do that this time?
Murakami: Simply put, the progress of technology.
...Tanaka: I wasn't very involved with the hardware, but I think the 3DS XL's best selling point is that the larger LCD increases parallax, so players can enjoy stereoscopic 3D with greater impact. The 3D Depth Slider has more range, making it easier to adjust to your own preferences, so I hope its good aspects will reach a broader range of people.
Iwata: In that respect, games that people have already played on the 3DS may make a different impression on the 3DS XL. I played Mario Kart 7 and Kid Icarus: Uprising and was like, "Whoa!"
The question is, will 3DS XL make us go 'whoa' like Satoru Iwata? It won't be too long until we find out.