DS will surf Web, watch TV

[UPDATE] Opera Web browser and digital TV tuner announced for Nintendo's handheld; new utilities and games galore also discussed at event in Tokyo.

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When the Nintendo DS was first announced, it was largely seen as a gaming machine. When compared to its main rival, the PlayStation Portable, some called it "a kid's machine," since it didn't have the flashier multimedia functions like the PSP.

Even without the ability to browse the Internet or listen to MP3s, the DS has enjoyed greater retail success than its competitor, in part due to the system's relative affordability (currently $129.99 versus the PSP's price tag of $249.99) and Nintendo's track record in the portable market.

Now it appears that the so-called "kid's machine" is growing up. At the D.I.C.E. Summit held in Las Vegas last week, Nintendo announced that the DS would soon support voice over IP, a function that will let DS users chat in real time, thanks to the machine's integrated microphone. Though currently planned to work in the pre- and post-game lobbies of only one title, Metroid Prime: Hunters, there is likely to be more in store for the DS's VoIP capabilities in the future.

According to an announcement made by Nintendo today, the plans for the DS's future don’t stop at VoIP. At a press conference in Japan, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed that the handheld will soon have the ability to surf the Web and watch digital television broadcasts.

[UPDATE] President Iwata has revealed the Nintendo DS Browser, a Web browser made by Oslo, Norway-based Opera Software. The browser will be based on Opera's PC Internet browser but will take advantage of some of the DS's integrated capabilities. The browser will be cartridge-based and is slated for release in Japan this June at the price of 3,800 yen ($32). Nintendo is considering shipping the product overseas.

Browsing will take place on both screens, and an onscreen keypad and the stylus will control navigation and input. The DS's two screens can be used to show off a single Web page, or the DS can scale down a site to fit on one screen and use the other to zoom in on a portion of the site.

Rather than using the D pad and buttons to input text, DS owners can use the stylus to write on the DS's touch screen, which features PDA-style handwriting recognition. The browser will also feature an onscreen keyboard.

The DS will double as a television. Iwata unveiled a new accessory that lets users watch TV broadcasts on the DS. The product is tentatively named DS Chijouha Digital Housou Jushin Card (DS digital-broadcast receiver card) and will be compliant with the new 1seg broadcast service, a digital signal designed for mobile devices, which will launch in Japan this April. 1seg broadcasts run in QVGA resolution (320x240 pixels).

The DS digital-broadcast receiver card will snap into the handheld's DS cartridge slot and feature an extendable antenna. The TV will be displayed on the upper screen, and the bottom screen will have buttons that can switch channels. Nintendo had a sample of the broadcast tuner running at the conference, but it was a prototype that used the Game Boy Advance cartridge slot. No release date has been announced for the product yet.

President Iwata said that the DS has shipped 6 million units in Japan so far, and it has reached the milestone in record time. He attributed his company's success to what Nintendo calls the "Touch! Generation" games, the titles targeted toward general audiences rather than hardcore gamers. Games in the series include Nintendogs and Yawaraka Atama Juku (Big Brain Academy), both of which have attracted audiences from the nongaming crowd.

Seven DS titles have already sold over a million units in Japan, an impressive feat for a console that's only been on the market for a little over a year. More than half of them were Touch! Generation titles. Nintendogs (1.18 million units sold), Big Brain Academy (1.14 million), Brain Age (1.8 million), and Motto Nou wo Kitaeru Otona no DS Training (Brain Age sequel, 1.54 million) all sold over a million units. The other games that sold over a million were Mario Kart DS (1.54 million), Animal Crossing: Wild World (2.17 million), and Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop (1 million).

Trumpeting numbers was high on the docket for Nintendo today. Over the past three months, the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service has received 900,000 unique users and over 22 million connections. Iwata said that Nintendo's goal is for all owners of the DS to try the Wi-Fi service at least once and plans to increase the number of Wi-Fi station terminals located throughout stores in Japan from 800 to 1,000 units by spring. As a new addition to the Nintendo Wi-Fi station, the company plans to offer downloads of games that have been created during its student seminars.

Plenty of new titles were also revealed by Nintendo. This year, the company will release a new version of its Rakubiki Jiten dictionary software, named Kanji Sonomama DS Rakubiki Jiten (Kanji as-it-is Easy Search Dictionary). This will be the second release in the series and will let users search for Japanese Kanji phonetic symbols by simply drawing them on the touch screen rather than having to go through the previous way of searching by stroke counts. The software features three dictionaries from Taishukan publishing, including Japanese-to-English and English-to-Japanese dictionaries, and it has more words than its predecessor.

Another utility announced is DS Bimoji Training (DS Beautiful Letter Training). The software is essentially a tool that lets users practice the clarity of their penmanship. The user writes on the bottom screen, while the top screen shows an example. The DS is held sideways when using the software, making it easier to view the example while trying to mimic it. DS Bimoji Training is currently in development and does not yet have a release date.

Taking the unusual Touch! Generation series in an even more nontraditional direction is Shaberu! DS Ryouri Navi (Talking DS Cooking Navigator). The utility is basically a talking cookbook. Chefs flip through the "pages" with voice commands while the game talks back. The user can input what ingredients are on hand and select a dish that can be prepared or pick a main ingredient (like beef or pork) and sort through a list of available options. No release period has been announced for Shaberu! DS Ryouri Navi.

Aside from Touch! Generations titles, Nintendo also covered a few games that will be released in the months to come. A new Super Mario Brothers has now been announced for a May release in Japan, and Pokèmon Diamond has been reconfirmed for release during the year. A number of third-party games were also unveiled at the conference. Konami's Winning Eleven Soccer series will soon make its debut on the DS and will feature Wi-Fi support. Riding the success of the original, Bandai will release a sequel to the million-plus selling Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop. Also, Sega is bringing its popular Mushiking beetle-battling game to the handheld, as well as Oshare Majo Love and Berry, a DS title targeted toward girls.

The press conference also gave attendees a chance to check out the DS Lite, which will be released on March 2 in Japan. With its new DS model, additional upcoming games, and new multimedia extensions, Nintendo has high hopes for its handheld.

"One of our midterm goals [for the DS] is to reach 10 million units [sold] as early as possible," said Iwata during his closing remarks. "The Game Boy Advance took 30 months to reach 10 million units, and the PlayStation 2 took 32 months. Both of them reached the milestone after two and a half years. But with the support of our wide range of DS customers, and with the help of software makers and distributors, our goal is to reach 10 million cumulative unit [sales] as soon as possible."

Discussion

587 comments
maurox1988
maurox1988

ohhhh.... i cannot believe this.

Ungdi
Ungdi

I am gonna watch Naruto on the top screen, and Bleach on the bottom...

vatterott
vatterott

Wow...what will they think up next!?

nestea_king
nestea_king

Meh doesn't matter to me. I mostly use my DS to play games. I occasionaly use it to read comics and stuff, but thats about it. I could care less about watching TV on a small screen. Theres not much giving on TV anyways. But not to worry, chances of these things coming here are like, what, 30%?

nintendo-naut
nintendo-naut

AWESOME! I LOVE YOU NINTENDO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

Natedogg105
Natedogg105

I know some people like the ds for its games (i don't know why though??), but i think its great there adding internet and other digital accessories as well as a few fps games here and there!

wii-man-23
wii-man-23

cool, i bet half of it doesn't reach our shore tho'

LittleDuck
LittleDuck

And we get all this how? I am especialy curious about the VoIP as my metroid manual is in spanish and i can't read spanish that well. But the cooking thing?!!! Is that a patch or a game or what, cos I ain't forking out £30 for someone to tell me how to make a quiche.

clofer
clofer

i hope there going to make an english virsion of the talking ds cooking navigator...

DSLiteRules11
DSLiteRules11

now with the internet adapter wen it comes out i can play my xbox 360 and search 4 cheats wile im playing. instead of getting up pausing the game and walking over 2 the computer i can use the trusty old DS Lite. i think this will get the 10 million DS consoles sold instantly.

eqrk
eqrk

when will this be available??? im dying to know... and hopefully it will come to the United States as well =)

Gh3tt0Child
Gh3tt0Child

when will these feature be availabble?

Thatkoolguy
Thatkoolguy

The tv thing will be awesome, if only they had to minus the antenna and jsut use the wifi connection sum how...

Yo_Joe_Cool
Yo_Joe_Cool

This Is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait for these to come out in the US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

roan23
roan23

Now I can watch movie at my DS YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

canada2000
canada2000

Great! i hope this gets to North America.

lordemmet
lordemmet

I hope they release that browser over in Ireland / UK around the same time as Japan / America, it's annoying waiting months for stuff that is already released overseas...

sweeten16
sweeten16

as long as nintendo still set there sights on games this is all good

kilgorehalsig
kilgorehalsig

Why the change of heart Nintendo? I read every press release stating that Sony was wasting their time making an all in one device and that Nintendo was going to concentrate on making great video games for their Portables. Which is what makes a good gaming device (its games). That seemed like sound logic and it satisfied me. All I can say is I hope Opera works better on the DS then it does on Nintendo's WI-Fi site. Every time I go out to view my profile I get the Detecting Your Browser Error. Crusty old men at Nintendo need to make up their minds. First they say that SONY and MICROSOFT are crazy for going online and that is not the future. So now I can watch tv on a DS and browse the internet if I want to and I will once again have to purchase an add on to do this. Maybe if they would design the product to have the capability in the first place they would not need to constantly gouge me for upgrades.

drollia
drollia

Good Bye Just a gaming machine. Hello Multimedia Device

willps3
willps3

Cool!!!! The good part about it is that the DS has very long battery life, so everyone will be able to enjoy using these features, unlike PSP's battery life that's just about 3 hours or less.

mariokart64fan
mariokart64fan

right runstalker i believe every word you say lol theres no new psp model sony announced just a price drop which isnt really a drop at all since the value pack is still 249.99 only the standard psp is 199.99 and you gotta get a mem card case the media adapter and ear phones let alone strap screen protector thatll add up to more then the value pack costs

kanx64
kanx64

The DS is transforming into one of the most feature packed systems available! Being able to talk to other players over VoIP is one of the best additions, but the Internet capabilities come in a close second. The DS may soon surpass the PSP in features and functionality!

teh_zax
teh_zax

That will rock hard and fast.... I think the web browser will far surpass the PSP. I mean come on, STYLUS AND TOUCH SCREEN, much better than Analog Stick and X button.

fishingalex
fishingalex

I wonder if I will have to buy a new ds because I bought mine the first week they came out

fishingalex
fishingalex

WOW this is like a dream! When I bought my ds I thought I made a mistake but if this stuff is real and actullay comes out I would actullay be happy I bought a DS.

BurnGamer
BurnGamer

I can't wait to watch Tv on my DS...

juanfraino
juanfraino

o man fantasy_freak_1 your yust sad because probably u have a psp and guess what..... it just died because nobody uses it for games. And now the DS is going to perform what the psp was ment for:internet extras and media archives. Rock on nintendo!!!!!!

fantasy_freak_1
fantasy_freak_1

It alwayys sounds good before you experience it. It's good that Nintendo are making the DS a decent console, not just a game-playing sissy console. The TV probably won't be good quality and probably won't have all the TV channels. And the web browser, I don't wanna think about the crappy connection and speed.

NGC101
NGC101

wow i can not wait to surf the web and watch tv on my ds!!!!!

NGC101
NGC101

wow i can not wait to surf the web and watch tv on my ds!!!!!

rigard_manx
rigard_manx

Amazing! I just can't wait I just hope it hits Europe and NA. It will start to destroy PSP fanboys goin on about the lack of features of the DS. Nintendo are the inovators that bought us the D-pad, so no wonder they have worked out away to fit a TV reciver into a 2cm x 2cm cart!

gamespotr0cks
gamespotr0cks

Absolutely incredible stuff. Proves that Nintendo is aiming this right at the PSP, *point blank*. Whatcha gonna do now $ony???

G4IA
G4IA

It's great that DS is showing it's potential outside of videogames.

kreo20
kreo20

I'm an owner of a PSP, but it's nice to see that Nintendo are catching onto the Multimedia facility dept. The internet browsing will definately be a success due to the PDA-like function the DS has by ustilising it's stylus to manipulate the screen and it will be ergonomically easier to use than the PSP's type and text function (but I still Luv my PSP no matter what). But when it comes to recieving digital tv on the DS I'm very disappointed because first of all; the resolution of the DS is not that great (320x240 pixels) [compared to the PSP - I don't think so!] and second you have to buy these add-ons which annoys me (just means more unecessary money being spent). Nintendo can easily integrate these functions to the new DS-Lite from the get-go. Anyway, the PSP doesn't need to worry about the TV functionality because it's got the Base Station to help in that department.

Redeemer9968
Redeemer9968

BOO YA!!!!!!! this is gonna be the best thing to happen to ds

ssrrdd
ssrrdd

PSP BETTER WATCH IT'S BACK CAUSE DS IS GETTING PIMPED OUT