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Nintendo 3DS

*Est. $170
Reviewed
March 2012
by ConsumerSearch
Nintendo 3DS

3D handheld game system

Pros
  • 3D screen doesn't require glasses
  • Bright, clear color
  • Online game downloads
  • Two cameras (one in 3D)
  • Compatible with previous Nintendo DS games
Cons
  • 3D requires viewing from a particular angle
  • Not compatible with Game Boy Advance titles
  • Shorter battery life than predecessors
  • Not many games take advantage of 3D yet
  • Cameras are low resolution

The Nintendo 3DS has received acclaim from top review sites for its glasses-free 3D display. It's a clamshell-style device, similar in design to the Nintendo DSi, with the 3D screen on the top and a touch screen on the bottom. It has two cameras (one in 3D), a motion sensor, a gyroscope, an adjustable stylus, a SD card slot and Wi-Fi for online access. It can also communicate wirelessly with other 3DS game systems. Reviewers give the 3DS high marks for its crisp, bright display and its 3D gaming capabilities. They also note that because it is compatible with older Nintendo DS titles, it can play a huge range of games, and the library of 3D titles has increased dramatically since it was launched. Sales of the console have also improved following a dramatic price cut from $250 at launch to the current $170 just a few months later.

Drawbacks include shorter battery life than previous Nintendo DS models (three to five hours in tests) and the restricted viewing angles required for 3D images to display properly. Serious gamers who want more demanding titles and more realistic graphics might be happier with the still cheaper Sony PSP-3000 (*Est. $130). The latest Sony portable gaming system, the PlayStation Vita (*Est. $250), is more expensive and has a more limited library, at least for now, but is widely hailed for its outstanding performance. Those who don't care about 3D should consider the Nintendo DSi (*Est. $150) as a very strong alternative. Except for 3D titles, it shares the same huge library as the 3DS, which stands at more than 1,700 games at last look.

We considered strong, complete reviews based on hands-on testing from CNET and PCMag.com, though perhaps the most enjoyable read is the authoritative (and positive) take on the device by ArsTechnica.com's Ben Kuchera. CNET also conducts one of its video "prizefights" between the Nintendo 3DS and the Sony PlayStation Vita. Wired's review touches on factors, some subtle, mentioned by many users of the 3DS. Amazon.com hosts hundreds of reviews of the Nintendo 3DS.

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Where To Buy
Nintendo 3ds Console - Flare Red (Japanese Imported Version - Only Plays Japanese Version Games)

 (1,315 reviews)
88 Used & new from $139.31

 
Featured StoresStore RatingNotesTotal Price
eBayeBay rated 3.83 (1281 reviews)1,281 store reviewsIn Stock. Buy it new & now! with eBay Buyer Protection$159.99
eBayeBay rated 3.83 (1281 reviews)1,281 store reviewsIn Stock. Buy it new & now! with eBay Buyer Protection$169.42
 

Our Sources

1. CNET

Jeff Bakalar says the Nintendo 3DS "successfully offers a glasses-less 3D experience that needs to be seen to be believed." He notes the high price tag and weak launch lineup of 3D titles, but says "the future certainly looks bright." He gives it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Review: Nintendo 3DS, Jeff Bakalar, March 16, 2011

2. CNET

CNET pits the Nintendo 3DS against the Sony PlayStation Vita in this head-to-head video "prizefight" that compares features, design and performance across six categories. Based on the scores of three judges, the PlayStation Vita is judged to be the overall winner.

Review: Sony PS Vita vs. Nintendo 3DS, Brian Tong, March 1, 2012

3. PCMag.com

Will Greenwald notes that the 3D gaming "works surprisingly well" on the Nintendo 3DS, calling the screen bright and beautiful and the analog thumb pad comfortable and pointing out the gaming system's compatibility with previous generations of DS titles. Watching the screen at just the right angle can be hit or miss, he says, and the battery life is mediocre. He awards 4 out of 5 stars and an Editors' Choice recommendation.

Review: Nintendo 3DS, Will Greenwald, June 16, 2011

4. Wired

Chris Kohler raves about the Nintendo 3DS's display, saying "it's the way the small screen's 3-D effects make every 3DS game look like a little animated diorama in a shoebox that impresses me the most." He notes that the 3D adjustment slider makes the viewing angle requirement more forgiving. The battery life is short, he says, meaning that if you have the settings cranked up, you'll be looking at the "blinking red light of death" (signifying that the battery power is about to run out) within three hours. He gives the system an 8 out of 10 rating, calling it "a true game changer."

Review: Nintendo 3DS Review : It's Totally in Your Face, Chris Kohler, March 22 , 2011

5. TrustedReviews.com

Ardjuna Seghers gives the Nintendo 3DS an 8 out of 10 score. It is very similar to the Nintendo DSi in design, Seghers notes, with the exception of the extensible stylus, thumb stick (Nintendo calls it the Circle Pad) and 3D display, larger touch screen and 3D camera. The reviewer finds the viewing angles for the 3D "surprisingly generous." The display is a positive, but the battery life is a downside.

Review: Nintendo 3DS Review, Ardjuna Seghers, March 25, 2011

6. Arstechnica.com

The title of this review almost says it all, though it's still worth it to check out Ben Kuchera's review of the Nintendo 3DS if only to enjoy his engaging writing style: "I never lost the feeling of magic from that first demo, flying around in Pilotwings Resort in full 3D, taking in the scenery. That's what Nintendo is delivering, and that's why this system is going to be a hit. Eventually." His caption under a photo: "This is a charging cradle. You will be using it often." He gives the Nintendo 3DS a Buy verdict.

Review: A Beautiful Screen, a Weak Battery, a Door to the Future, Ben Kuchera, March 2011

7. Amazon.com

Most users posting at Amazon.com like their Nintendo 3DS systems very much; it earns a 4.3 out of 5 rating following more than 600 reviews. Commonly praised are the 3D display and the console's crisp, bright colors. Not everyone is completely pleased, however, and some complaints about durability and the usability of 3D are voiced -- as are complaints about the cost posted prior to Nintendo's price cut.

Review: Nintendo 3DS, Contributors to Amazon.com

8. PC World

Matt Peckham gives the Nintendo 3DS 4 out of 5 stars, giving it kudos for the device's social networking features with other 3DS users, 3D camera and the 3D display itself. He identifies as drawbacks the narrow sweet spot for viewing the 3D effect, the low resolution of the Nintendo 3DS's cameras and the maximum five-hour battery life.

Review: Nintendo 3DS Takes No-Glasses 3D Mainstream, Matt Peckham, March 18, 2011

9. TechRadar.com

Tom Pakinkis gives the Nintendo 3DS 4.5 out of 5 stars, saying that it provides "the best DS graphics yet" and suggesting that the augmented reality shows potential. The short battery life is the largest negative.

Review: Nintendo 3DS Review, Tom Pakinkis, March 27, 2011

10. DigitalTrends.com

Ryan Fleming says the Nintendo 3DS has "an incredible amount of potential," also giving the device credit for the 3D display. "The Nintendo 3DS is a powerful and unique gaming device that will enthrall gamers, despite its poor battery life and weak camera," he writes, giving it a score of 8 out of 10.

Review: Nintendo 3DS Review, Ryan Fleming, March 22 , 2011

11. Engadget.com

Tim Stevens calls the Nintendo 3DS's 3D screen compelling, the new games interesting and the analog thumb stick (Nintendo calls it the Circle Pad) comfortable. Drawbacks, as noted in other reviews, are the price (since reduced), the battery life and the position for viewing 3D images.

Review: Nintendo 3DS Review, Tim Stevens, March 21, 2011

Handheld Game Systems Runners Up:

Nintendo DSi XL *Est. $170

3 picks including: DigitalTrends.com, Engadget.com…

Sony PSP-3000 *Est. $130

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DigitalTrends.com…

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