First Impressions of Nintendo 3DS: The 3-D Really Works!

LOS ANGELES - During its E3 press conference today, Nintendo officially unveiled its latest 3-D capable handheld gaming device, the Nintendo 3DS. TechNewsDaily got some hands-on time with the device, and here are our first impressions.

The Nintendo 3DS has several similarities to its Nintendo DS model. It has a viewing screen on top and a fully interactive touch screen on the bottom.  And like past models, there is a four-button layout on the right side and additional shoulder buttons on the top.

As for what's different, first and foremost, there is an analog stick built into the frame, slightly above the directional pad.  It’s a comfortable spot for the analog pad, easy to reach with your thumb while giving your index and middle fingers access to the nearby shoulder button.  The analog pad on the Nintendo 3DS moves very smoothly, unlike the clumsy nub found on the PlayStation Portable.

Secondly, the top screen is wider than the previous Nintendo DS models.  It’s a 3.4-inch widescreen display set-up and just like the screen on the recently released Nintendo DSi XL, is very easy on the eyes.

The major selling point of the Nintendo 3DS, of course, is 3-D. So does it work? In a word: Yes.

The widescreen display is in full, glorious 3-D, without the need for ridiculous glasses and we didn’t experience any eyestrain or headaches gazing upon the screen.  The six or seven images shown (mostly consisting of Nintendo characters, including Mario, Yoshi, Samus Aran from Metroid and Link from Legend of Zelda) were crystal clear, and the analog stick enabled us to move the objects around in real time, so we could see the full effects of 3-D.

Although it was only a limited 45-second hands-on demo, we really did get an idea of what the system has to offer.  The Nintendo 3DS feels like a nice fit for the Nintendo line, and the 3-D display actually works as advertised.

Better yet, 3-D viewing is not limited to just games. The 3DS also includes two built in cameras on the back of the system, allowing you to take and store 3-D photos to show to your friends and share over online connection.  Downloadable 3-D movies will also be available for the system when it launches, including Dreamworks’ "How To Train Your Dragon" and Disney’s upcoming "Tangled."  And yes, you can view them in 3-D without having to wear those bulky glasses.

The only downside is that Nintendo failed to mention a price or release date.  Speculation indicates that the system could go for a fairly reasonable $299, and will be available sometime in 2011.  We can hardly wait, because it really feels (and looks) as if Nintendo has 3-D done right.