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CostHelper > All Electronics > Game Consoles > Portable Game Systems

Portable Game Systems Prices, Reviews and Specifications


Portable game consoles continued to be dominated by Nintendo, which offers a variety of portable options. Some portable game units provide access to online content including downloadable games and videos. PlayStation portable games units have Skype installed and can make video calls. Nintendo offers 3-D gaming sans glasses with its 3DS and 3DS XL units.

Nintendo 3DS

The Nintendo 3DS is the first portable game system that offers 3-D graphics without the need for glasses. The handheld console is the most recent in the DS line of devices. It can be used to play 3-D games, take 3-D pictures and video, and play music.

It also comes with Wi-Fi accessibility, which allows Internet browsing features. The DS line of Nintendo portable gaming devices are the best-selling portable gaming devices of all time and are competing with PS2 as the best-selling gaming device ever.

While the 3DS plays 3-D games, it is also backward compatible with all 2-D DS games. Nintendo's portable game consoles have several popular characters and game series exclusives including Super Mario and Legend of Zelda. While the Nintendo 3DS is aimed at younger gamers, there are several teen- and mature-rated games for adults. The 3DS is the first in the DS line to be able to stream movies, and it comes with Netflix pre-installed.

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Nintendo 3DS XL

The Nintendo 3DS XL is, as its name suggests, an extra-large version of the 3DS, which was released in 2011 and offered 3-D gaming without cumbersome glasses. The console increases both screens diagonally by more than 1" -- it's a 90% increase over the previous verision. The increased size means an additional 4 oz. of weight in the hand. The new model also comes with a larger SD card: 4GB instead of 2GB. And the battery life is expected to be extended by more than an hour.

The release of the 3DS XL brought new 3-D installments in popular series including Zelda and Super Mario. In addition, the console is backward compatible with all the 2-D games available for DS systems.

Like the 3DS, the 3DS XL comes with Wi-Fi accessibility, which allows Web browsing. It comes with a built-in camera that can take both 3-D and 2-D images to share online or with friends. It also has Netflix pre-installed and is capable of streaming movies.

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Nintendo DS Lite

Update: The DS Lite was discontinued by Nintendo in 2013. It is still available as a used or refurbised model, but new models are no longer manufactured.

The Nintendo DS Lite is the second-generation DS gaming console, slightly smaller than the original DS. The series, known for its extensive library of kid-friendly titles, is the best-selling device in portable console history.

The DS Lite is the base DS model. Because its focus is on gaming, the DS Lite does not offer online access, although users can communicate with other users in a limited area. The DS Lite is available in a handful of colors including pink, red and blue. The dual screen DS comes with a pen stylus for controlling game-play.

With the newest model in the series, the 3DS, reducing its price in August 2011, the DS Lite drops to less than $100. The DS Lite is becoming increasingly dated with newer models like the DSi and the 3DS offering more features. The DS Lite is the last model to be compatible with Nintendo's older cartridge-based games used on Gameboy Advance models. [See Prices, Reviews and Specifications]

Nintendo DSi

The Nintendo DSi is the successor to the DS Lite and makes several changes to the system. The upgrade adds front- and rear-facing cameras, slightly larger dual screens and an SD card slot for media storage. In addition, while the DS Lite was backward compatible with Game Boy Advance games, the DSi no longer has the GBA slot. It also has a much shorter battery life than its predecessors.

The DSi is the first in the DS series to have access to the DSiWare store, an online library of downloadable games and applications.

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Nintendo DSi XL

The DSi XL is not so much an upgrade as it is a larger version of the DSi. It could also be viewed as similar to the 3DS without the 3-D functionality and the ability to stream movies.

The DSi and DSi XL are essentially twins, but the DSi XL has a significantly larger screen. The DSi XL comes pre-loaded with a handful of games, a new pen-shaped stylus and a significantly longer battery life, but those changes are about the only differences between the XL and the original DSi.

The DSi XL has access to Nintendo's online DSiWare store, which offers game and video downloads in exchange for Nintendo credits. The camera on the DSi XL comes with photo-editing software, and Internet access allows the images to be share through social media like Facebook.

Because of the larger screen size, one complaint from users is that is doesn't fit in one's pocket as easily as previous iterations of the DS, but it will slip into a purse or backpack pocket with ease.

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Sony PS Vita

The PlayStation Vita is the newest in the PlayStation Portable line of gaming devices.

The PlayStation Vita was released in February 2012. The device introduces a host of new features not available on previous PSP iterations including the use of augmented reality -- projecting the virtual world into the physical world -- which essentially allows users to turn a dining room table into a wrestling ring.

The AR capabilities are in direct competition with Nintendo's 3DS, one possible reason behind Nintendo's decision to reduced prices in August 2011. The PlayStation Vita brings back use of game cards, using a new format Sony developed that aims to deter hackers.

In addition, users will have access to games downloadable through the PlayStation Network. It is the first PlayStation portable gaming system to have a touch-screen interface; even the back of the console has a touch-sensitive control pad.

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Sony PSP-3000

Sony's PSP-3000 still is available, despite the release of the newer model, PlayStation Vita. The PSP-3000 can be found in specialty gaming stores such as Game Stop and it can be purchased through Sony's online store.

The PSP-3000 adds a high-definition screen, with increased contrast and a wider color spectrum, in addition to adding anti-reflective qualities to make gaming in any light easier. Another feature that's new on the PSP-3000 is the built-in Skype function.

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