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Game Review

Nintendo DSi Browser Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Adam

Almost three years after the release of the original Opera Browser for the Nintendo DS, does this new iteration meet expectations or are we once again plagued with loading times from a decade long past?

The Nintendo DS Browser was released around three years ago on October 6th 2006 for the Nintendo DS and the then newly released Nintendo DS Lite. The release garnered a great deal of hype - after all it was the first application of it's kind for the Nintendo DS and offered users a chance to use their machines for something other than gaming; something that has became increasingly common on the DS platform in recent times. The browser retailed at the same price as a regular Nintendo DS game and came complete with the Memory Expansion Pak, which added around 8mb of RAM needed for the web-browsing experience. Overall it’s fair to say that the whole proposition was underwhelming; loading times were nightmarish, many websites did not render properly and the general presentation of the package left a lot to be desired, especially considering the relatively high price of the software.

Three years on were are presented with the DSi’s own native version of the Opera Browser and it’s interesting to note that there are several improvements both in terms of actual usability and presentation. One of the biggest draws to this new version is of course the fact that it is offered as a free download from the DSi shop. The very fact that the user is no longer forced to cough up a large wodge of cash in order to surf the Internet on the DS is a very appealing factor when evaluating this software and it’s usefulness as a viable application for checking emails, keeping up with news and blogging on the go. The DSi Opera Browser achieves all of these things to varying degrees of success.

In terms of checking your emails and keeping up to date with friends it allows access to basic email services such as Yahoo! and Google Mail. However, Flash-based email clients are sadly not supported. Social networking sites such as MySpace and Live-Journal work perfectly and Twitter actually displays quite nicely on the DSi screen. Facebook however doesn’t work at all and logging on results in a rather odd message from the DSi stating that there is “insufficient memory” to view the website. Hopefully this is something that could be sorted out in subsequent upgrades of the software.

As earlier mentioned the lack of Flash support means that many websites do not display correctly, or in certain cases, at all. This means that media streaming websites such as Youtube and DailyMotion are unusable. To add to your woes, tabbed browsing and RSS feeds are still unsupported; however, it is perhaps possible that Opera will upgrade the browser in the future and introduce this vital feature.

Focusing on improvements from the original Nintendo DS Browser, the overall presentation has most definitely been enhanced. The home-screen is far more welcoming and clear in its layout. There are three main buttons: one your desired website address (through handwriting or keyboard entry), one for searching the web (using either the default Google or Yahoo search engines) and finally a Favourites button, which as the name suggests contains user-defined favourites which can be edited easily and simply.

Everything is intuitive and simple to use. Furthermore, compared to the original browser loading times have been improved significantly and pages render better than before. Like its predecessor there are two alternative ways of viewing a web-page: an "overview" and "column" mode. The overview mode is perhaps the one that would be used most often as it allows the user to see the full page on one screen and zoomed in sections on the other. The column mode is useful for long texts and articles as it compresses all of the text into, as is to be expected, one large column. There is an inbuilt user-guide within the software and parental controls so that parents can monitor their child's internet activity; all of these things add to the user experience and level of high quality.

Like the original, how often people will actually use the software is debatable; it is in essence a basic Internet browser and perhaps useful for quick sessions. For longer Internet sessions the DSi browser is not entirely practical due to the lack of support for Flash and complex Java scripts. It is perhaps worth noting that the DSi supports WPA authentication unlike the DS and DS Lite which were restricted to WEP, this means that many more people can now use the online functions of the DS at home as modern wireless routers are shifting towards WPA. Perhaps more widespread use of the DS’s Internet features will encourage developers like Opera to build on and develop their products further.

Conclusion

To conclude, the DSi Browser is a free piece of software which allows the DSi to surf the Internet, albeit it to varying degrees of success. Unlike its predecessor no add-on is required and overall performance has undoubtedly improved. While the software has its limitations it is a free download and well worth having on your DSi roster of software; there is absolutely no excuse not to get this application. And in case you were wondering, the Nintendo Life website loads effortlessly on the DSi browser.

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User Comments (56)

Mopsical

#2

Mopsical said:

Looks great, way better than the original that I bought 2 years ago. That is one purchase I regret. And this one's free!

wanderlustwarrior

#3

wanderlustwarrior said:

oh, the hope that Opera will update. it's got such a great record of updating on nintendo systems, why shouldn't we get our hopes up?

free is good though.

DazzaAdmin

#4

Dazza said:

It's hard to argue with something that is free, in fact this is a real sweetener for me in buying the DSi. I am sure I will use it from time to time to check email when I am passing a Starbucks or something.

It's a real shame there is no Flash support though. Youtube on DSi would have been great! :-(

Nice review Adam!

Metal_Slugger

#5

Metal_Slugger said:

Remember Wii opera browser was free at first then they charged for it later on. I heard the resolution on the new DSi is the same as the DS lite. So if this is true there would be more pixelation, because of the larger screen. Is this true?

EmcGuy

#6

EmcGuy said:

Please remember the lite/mini versions of all the major sites. For example iphone.facebook.com works OK but m.facebook.com works fantastic on DSi, especially in column mode. Great job Ninty !!!

kitroplious

#7

kitroplious said:

@Dazza: It's a real shame there is no Flash support though. Youtube on DSi would have been great!

Maybe Nintendo will release an updated version of the Nintendo DSi Browser later on the DSi Shop to support flash! :P

CorbsAdmin

#8

Corbs said:

I am sure I will use it from time to time to check email when I am passing a Starbucks or something.

Exactly what I was thinking Daz. I wish they would come out with an email app for the DSi.

Crunc

#11

Crunc said:

You folks seem to have gotten a different browser from me, because the one I downloaded from the shop is insanely slow to the point of being utterly useless. Unless you like watching paint dry. It may be that I'm spoiled having an iPod touch, but I can't be that spoiled. The DSi browser I got is utterly terrible. The only saving grace will be if it let's me use free/pay wifi services by letting me log in and then load a game, in order to play online. I hope to test that out shortly.

Bahamut_ZERO

#12

Bahamut_ZERO said:

This is great for some people and all, but I dont bring my newest portable system with me anywhere, because I dont want to lose/break it. And since I have a computer all of 10 feet away, I think Ill be fine.

thewiirocks

#13

thewiirocks said:

Facebook however doesn’t work at all and logging on results in a rather odd message from the DSi stating that there is “insufficient memory” to view the website.

That's probably correct. The DSi's 16MB is much better than the 4MB of the previous DS Lite (which required a memory upgrade to run the Opera browser!), but we're still talking about a very constrained amount of memory. Any website that drives large numbers of images, scripts, or overly complex CSS/HTML is going to run into memory problems. The browser may be able to use Virtual Memory, but there's a limit to how much that can help. Web Browsers are (unfortunately) memory hogs.

Because of the memory constraints, don't expect tabbed browsing any time soon. Rendering one page is more than enough for the poor browser to deal with. You'll note that the more popular Wii browser still lacks this feature, and it has 64MB of memory at its disposal. (Though Flash programs can easily cause the dreaded "Out of Memory" error.)

@Versus22 - I wouldn't count on Flash for two reasons. The first is the aforementioned memory constraints. The second is that Nintendo appears to be deemphasizing Flash support. While the HTML engine has been upgraded several times for the Wii browser, the Flash plugin has not been upgraded at all. In fact, I fully expect that the Wii's successor will also lack Flash support.

If you're looking for Youtube or similar services, write them and ask that they create a custom program for the DSi. It's already within their power to do so (they have MP4s of all the videos for the iPhone), thus it's just a matter of convincing them. (Assuming the DSi has sufficient processing power to decode video in real-time, that is...)

Kid_A

#15

Kid_A said:

I can't get my WiFi to work in my house which is a real bummer. I probably won't even download this. I'm going to a WiFi enabled coffee shop in a few minutes just so I can download Birds and Beans. Other than that, the DSi has really impressed me.

Crunc

#16

Crunc said:

There is no saving grace - the browser can not be used to enable DS games to use public wifi that requires a web page login, license agreement, etc. I got to try this today and it didn't work. How could you give this worthless browser 7 stars? FYI, this works perfectly with the iPod touch. Sigh. I'm feeling a bit down about my archaic DSi.

StarDust4Ever

#17

StarDust4Ever said:

Unfortunately, that is exactly what my College does: It uses an "open air" protocol which is unencrypted wifi. Upon logging on, you are redirected to 1.1.1.1, which askes you for your student ID and password, and among other things uses an invalid security certificate.

Since you cannot exit the web browser without disconnecting from the wifi, the shop channel as well as any wifi games are useless on my college network, so I had to go to a local coffee house todownload the browser.

Good grief, that's a lot of "tapping" considering I'm using the DSi browser right now :p

Charlie_The_Unicorn

#19

Charlie_The_Unicorn said:

@Nintendork - Gee, that stinks. Sorry :(
Don't worry! eBay was invented for a reason! :D

The DSI browser can't play youtube videos, and it's sometimes slow, but it is still very great. A must-download for everyone.

MorikaWeb

#20

MorikaWeb said:

"Facebook however doesn’t work at all"

I think the problem most people have is they are tying to use this as a desktop browser, were as it is in fact a MOBILE browser. Comparing the DSi browser to your pc browser is completely unfair. You should be comparing it to other mobile browsers such as the ones built into smart phones/PDA's.

If you want to use face book on a mobile web browser, go to the mobile site (m.facebook.com) this works perfectly on the DSi. Most major sites have a mobile version that works perfectly for the DSi, all you have to do is chose the mobile version.

mikedurn

#21

mikedurn said:

I hope they come up with an active x browser system. As for the email feature Its great to look up and read your mail but lacks the ability to send mail. Only alternative I use to send a quick note to someone is to enchance the subject line of you email with a short text message. This at least will allow you to notify or respond to someone if your only email alternative is the dsi.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#22

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Its a useful but fiddly thing to have on your DSi. Might as well if its free. 7/10 is how I would rate it as well.

Ishkeen

#23

Ishkeen said:

I can't get into my browser. So it's useless. I can't even use the DSi shop!!

Ishkeen

#24

Ishkeen said:

I just got wireless internet,so now I can get into my DSi browser and my DSi shop.I LOOOVE the 1000 points that came with it!! There is one downside to the browser,you HAVE to have a wireless internet connection. Anyway I recommend 'Brain Age 2' to everyone!

Raptor78

#25

Raptor78 said:

Ive always loved Mobile Internet and use it all the time thaks to my Smartphone, so when I started to use the DSi browser I knew not to compare it to a traditional desktop browser.
I didnt like the original setup up much but with a bit of tweeking and bookmarking of useful sites most of which work better with their mobile versions (eg. mobile facebook) and viewing them in "column mode" it works suprisingly well and with a decent speed despite what some people say. I think it deserves its seven stars and as a free application great value for money, lol.

Cheater

#27

Cheater said:

Although YouTube.com does not work with the BlackBerry, YouTube Mobile does... I have a guess that it could also work with the DSi.

Gogata

#28

Gogata said:

This works really great! Th only bad thing is the non-flash support. But the feature of going on MSN is cool! m.ebuddy.com

Gogata

#29

Gogata said:

Many mobile versions of some stuff work perfectly on the DSi Opera Browser...

Altkey

#31

Altkey said:

i can send gmail without a problem and they should use the sd card more like for attaching files or extra memory

Altkey

#32

Altkey said:

"I can't get into my browser. So it's useless. I can't even use the DSi shop!!"
that's most likely parental controls

PressStart

#33

PressStart said:

The best part about this is... IT'S FREE! As soon as I get a DSi, I'm going to download this. Great review!

Kadaj

#34

Kadaj said:

Very cool, and free just seals the deal. While it isn't exactly a necessity, it's a nice little touch.

I <3 Nintendo

cheebeezy

#39

cheebeezy said:

This is great for a DSi. You can search the web for information, check websites like myspace and facebook, and you can look at pictures. Although it doesn't have flash player, you can do anything else that you want on the web. This is very good for anyone to download, and it's free. How could it possibly get better?!

TLink9

#40

TLink9 said:

I hate the history, you have to clear it every 5 sec. to load a page.

sontuk

#42

sontuk said:

My dsi came with the browser, I use it when I can't get on the computer

HanuKwanzMasBif

#43

HanuKwanzMasBif said:

It's only a few blocks and it's free, it's good for people like me who prefer reading articles. I rarely ever use overview, only when on sites like Wikipedia, when column view gets kind of messed up. The picture quality, for some reason, varies between brilliant or with huge pixels and horrible quality. Most of the time, webcomics don't turn out well. By the way, there's a site that fixes the tab problem.

FinalFantisiac

#46

FinalFantisiac said:

The fact that it doesn't have Flash (which the Wii has) disappoints me, but it's still a good deal, anyway.

alexa201

#48

alexa201 said:

I recently bought a DSi and it came with Flipnote Studio AND DSi Web Browser already installed on it which was great! Took me a while to figure out that the browser works best with mobile sites, but I eventually got it :)

Monaro213

#49

Monaro213 said:

The DSi browser is awesome considering the hardware's limitations. I took someone's advice (don`t remember who) and compared it to another web browser (mobile), and, well, kudos to Opera.

paperskyx

#50

paperskyx said:

I don't like how there's no sound or video or anything. I know it's just a portable lil system, but come on. The iPhone can play Youtube videos, why can't the DSi?

eXpEnDAbLE92

#51

eXpEnDAbLE92 said:

I have been using this software for weeks. Not because it's amazing or anything (but it's still good), but because my sister is hogging the computer. BTW I wrote this using the DSi Browser.

nila

#52

nila said:

Well good news: I received 1000 points after downloading the browser which I can spend on buying some games.

jdkipfer

#53

jdkipfer said:

I can use facebook. It is not great, but I can read notifications and messages, send messages, send friend requests and a bunch of other stuff.

chiefeagle02

#54

chiefeagle02 said:

For me, there are a few features about the original browser that I liked better over the DSi iteration. First text input is limited for the DSi. It was nice to be able to write a fully fleshed blog or email on the DS while traveling. Second, I liked that the image button was on the dashboard of the original, providing a more streamlined experience when browsing to quickly toggle images to keep load times more consistent. Thirdly, I liked how you were able to essentially pick your own search engine. I had mine set up to do Google Mobile Search (keeping with the spirit that this was essentially a mobile web browser, so why expect anything more than mobile results?).

Other than that, this is a great piece of software. I really like it for traveling. It's nice to leave the laptop at home, thus saving you from a few airport hassles and space on the plane, and still have adequate access to the internet. WPA accessibility and the speed are the main reasons I choose the DSi version over the DS version (if it's all you have though, it's still good if it's used right).

Dodger

#55

Dodger said:

I used this for a long time. Using mobile websites helps. Put m. instead of www. and if it has a mobile version, that will work. Facebook, google, yahoo and a lot of other sites have a mobile version.

xj0462

#56

xj0462 said:

it is a shame u cant transfer this to ur 3DS, but since the 3ds has its own internet browser i guess i can live

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