New DS hitting Japan March 2

Reworked handheld will feature improved weight, size, and four levels of brightness control; interface to also have minor face-lift.

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TOYKO--Since the beginning of the year, rumors have been spreading that Nintendo is developing a new model of its popular DS handheld. After weeks of playing coy with noncommittal statements, today the company finally confirmed it. Nintendo announced that it will release the new DS, called the "Nintendo DS Lite" in Japan on March 2. The handheld will be priced at 16,800 yen ($145), which is a little more expensive than the original DS, which sells for 15,000 yen ($130). No US or European release plans were announced.

Nintendo DS Lite will come with all the unique features of the original DS, but its weight and size have been trimmed down. While the original DS weighed in at 275 grams, DS Lite is 218 grams. The handheld's size has been improved overall, as its width has been reduced from 148.7mm to 133mm, and its height has been reduced from 84.7mm to 73.9mm. Its thickness has also been reduced by nearly a third, from 28.9mm to 21.5mm (when folded).

Capability-wise, the DS Lite has all the functions that were present on the original DS, including the dual screens, touch panel, microphone input, and Wi-Fi connection. As a new hardware feature, the DS Lite will come with four adjustable levels of screen brightness. Nintendo said it decided to name the new model DS Lite because of its light weight, and also for its screen brightness. One feature that has yet to be clarified is whether the unit will be backward compatible with Game Boy Advance games.

Nintendo has released a mock-up image of its DS Lite (pictured), which reveals that the handheld has undergone a minor face-lift. While the original DS had its microphone and battery power indicator on the bottom, it's been relocated to the middle hinge between the two screens. The layout of the main four buttons is the same as on the original DS, but the start and select buttons have been placed on the bottom, and their sizes have been reduced. The image released by Nintendo shows the DS Lite having a white body, versus the metallic silver color of the original DS. Nintendo hasn't said whether this will be the default color of the machine.

Specs released by Nintendo are as follows.

Product Name: Nintendo DS Lite
Release date: 3/2/2006
Price: 16,800 yen

Size:
DS Lite: 133.0 x 73.9 x 21.5mm (when folded)
Original DS: 148.7 x 84.7 x 28.9mm (when folded)
Weight:
DS Lite: 218g
Original DS: 275g

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