The Nintendo DSi XL comes out on March 28; the Apple iPad on April 3. Both are essentially bigger versions of things that already exist, but how much of an improvement are they really?
We know that comparing the Apple iPad to the Nintendo DSi isn't exactly fair, but we aren't comparing the two devices to each other on a feature-by-feature basis. Instead, we're taking a look at the value that each holds as an upgrade to its respective ancestor. In other words, is bigger better, and which bigger is better?
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It's the Nintendo DSi XL squaring off against the Apple iPad, larger versions of the Nintendo DSi and iPod Touch, more or less. Apple would like us to think of the iPad as an entirely new device, but let's be realistic here.
On one side we have Nintendo, a dedicated video game company that isn't too worried about aesthetics, as long as the devices they release get the job done. Take the Wii, for instance. The Wii is a box. It looks like an external DVD drive. Of course it doesn't play DVDs, but the comparison still stands.
Then we have Apple, the computer / mobile device company that spends millions of dollars developing the package its devices come in. This is good, as many hardcore Apple devotees would spend good money on an empty box, as long as Apple designed it. Case in point: the Apple TV.
The Release Dates
Nintendo announced the North American release date for the DSi XL as March 28, and by gum, that's when it's coming out.
Apple announced the initial rollout for the iPad for late March, and I suppose April 3 counts as late March. It's Apple, and they've redefined all sorts of stuff. Why not late March?
The Nintendo DSi retails for $169.99, while the DSi XL retails for $189.99, or $20 more. This basically means that, in order to be worth your attention, the DSi XL needs to add $20 of value.
The Apple iPod Touch starts at $199.99 for the 8GB version, rising in $100 increments for the 32GB and 64GB versions. The iPad starts at $499 for the wireless-only, 16GB version, with the high-end model with 64GB of memory and 3G support ringing in at $829. With a discrepancy between the memory size of the two lowest priced units, we'll have to compare the 32GB iPod Touch at $299 to the 32GB wireless only iPad at $599. That's $300 worth of value Apple needs to add.
In Nintendo's case, this category is simple enough. It's bigger. It's got bigger screens, and a bigger stylus. We could sit here discussing the ability for other people to watch you play, but that's not a feature.
Obviously the iPod is also bigger, and the degree of difference is much larger than that of the DSi and DSi XL. It also has a higher resolution screen than the iPod Touch, and a more powerful processor. Oh, and other people can watch you play with it. I didn't give that one to the DSi, but I'm arbitrarily giving it to Apple, if only to show that I am in complete control of this article.
And yes, I recycled this image from my large size comparison chart from iPod announcement day. I'm quite proud of that chart.
The Nintendo DSi XL is merely a larger than normal Nintendo DSi, and there won't really be any special DSi XL software. There will be applications like books, that function better in general on the larger screen, but since the innards and the cartridge slot are the same, so are the games.
This is where the iPad lords over the DSi XL, fists to hips, chortling heartily. The advanced processor and higher resolution screen of the iPad already has developers working on exclusive applications and games for the device, as we pointed out earlier today.
The main downside to the Nintendo DSi XL is that it makes Stephen Totilo's ass look very odd when it's placed in his back pocket. It's larger than the DSi, to be sure, but not so much larger that it isn't still a portable device.
The iPad will not fit in Stephen Totilo's back pocket, but it also won't make his ass look strange. In fact, and I am just guestimating here, the iPad might completely obscure Totilo's ass. I'm not sure if that's a plus or a minus.
The lack of real portability isn't really a downside, as no one buying a device the size of the iPad should be stupid enough to think it'll fit in their pocket.
The only real downside to the iPad is the lack of a camera, and since we're comparing it to the camera-less iPod Touch and not the iPhone, that doesn't count. A huge, glaring omission, but one that doesn't count.
So which bigger is better? From a purely financial standpoint, the Nintendo DSi XL wins, hands down, adding a nice chunk of screen real estate for only $20 more than the original. There is another question we have to consider, however. Does the DSi XL justify replacing your Nintendo DSi? Probably not. Maybe if you have trouble seeing the screen of the DSi, but otherwise it just isn't worth the extra cash.
The iPad also does everything the iPod Touch does, only bigger. The key here is that the bigger in this case is a great deal bigger. So much so, that the larger device and the smaller should be able to co-exist in your gadget lineup.
But we're talking about ditching one for the other here, and in the case of iPod Touch versus iPad, the iPod clearly has an advantage over the smaller device. You might not notice much of a difference while listening to music, but reading books, watching movies, surfing the web, and playing games, especially those being developed with the iPad in mind, will all be greatly improved on the new device.
Greatly improved, but $300 improved? Perhaps that's a question best answered deep inside your heart. You have until March 12, when preorders begin.