We'll admit our first response to the news and initial pictures of the DSi XL was less than positive. We had fat DS units, we spent a mint getting smaller ones, so why would we want to spend cash buying a bigger one again?
And then we got our hands on the new handheld... we flipped back the DSi XL's strikingly thick upper body to reveal two giant, bright screens that slapped our jaded views in the face like a wet fish.
It's actually quite striking just how nice the new 4.2 inch screens are compared to the much smaller 3.25 inch screens of the standard DSi. Unlike any previous DS, they have impact, like the original PSP did when you first saw one.
Their clarity and vivid colours are particularly stunning. We fired up New Super Mario Bros. which looks fantastic on the big screens. We even found that, thanks to the increased size of enemies on screen, it made it easier to judge precise jumps and avoid incoming obstacles with greater accuracy. The faster-paced DS games will no-doubt be easier and precise stylus use more achievable on the XL.
The slight downfall of an expanded screen is that, with the same 256x192 resolution as the smaller screens and a good set of eyes you can see the now larger pixels, which gives games a slightly blockier look. An issue that's probably not as noticeable to the older crowd for which the XL is clearly designed.
The added bonus of the console's extra bulk is the room for some bigger speakers, and compared to the overly quiet DSi the XL makes quite a racket.
We'd also assumed the console would come with bigger, easier-to-press buttons, but they're actually all the same size as the dinky DSi ones, d-pad included. So if you ever struggled with the small and closely-positioned buttons of the previous machines you'll receive no resolution here, which seems rather counter intuitive.
On a positive note, they're all just as nicely clicky and the D-pad just as precise as the DSi ones, and the stylus that comes inserted into the console is the same too. Plus, for those of you with Chris Eubank fingers, the XL also includes a fatter pen-sized stylus.
Functionality wise, it's all pretty much identical to the DSi. Boot-up speeds seem identical, menus the same.
The return of the glossy finish on the top of the console is a welcome one, even if it is more fingerprint prone than the matt finish of the DSi. While the underside of the XL has a rough, matt finish that provides more grip than any previous DS.
And you'll need that grip when you're holding the machine's weightier bulk in mid-air, without the support of a flat surface. We also noticed that the screen hinge has two stop points - one slightly more closed than the standard open position, presumably for a better angle of the top screen when you place the console on a flat surface.
So it's as well-built and solid as you'd expect from Nintendo. But, for the first time since the original DS launched, it's not an essential upgrade.
Whether or not you should buy a DSi XL really depends on how you use your DS - if you tend not to carry it out with you, and only ever tend to use it at home, then the DSi XL is the better choice - if only for the stunning screen size. Games are easier to play and stylus use will be more accurate.
But for its sheer size and increased weight, you wouldn't want this in your pocket or handbag. For gaming on the go, The standard DSi is far more convenient and apart from the smaller screens, does the job just as well in all other areas.
Gorgeous screens, louder sounds and easier stylus accuracy. A solid update, but mobile players should stick with the DSi.