Review: Nintendo DSi XL

Short version: Nintendo’s new DSi XL is aimed squarely at the older generation of casual gamers. People that appreciate something that’s a little easier to read. The people who wear their reading glasses while they sit down for their morning glass of fiber and read their copy of the AARP Journal. And heaven help me, I like it.


  • A larger screen
  • Full size stylus
  • Comes pre-loaded with Brain Age Express: Math and Brain Age Express: Arts & Letters
  • MSRP: $189.99 (regular DSi is $169.99)


  • Large screen is easy to read
  • Games still look great
  • Case size easier to hold


  • Large size reduces portability
  • Nowhere to put stylus
  • Uncomfortable for people with small hands

I like Nintendo’s portable gaming consoles. I had a Game Boy, Game Boy Color, DS phat, and a DS Lite, but I never saw the point in the DSi. So when Nintendo sent me a DSi XL to review, I was pleasantly surprised by the functionality. Would I buy a DSi XL to replace my DS Lite? Probably not – but I do like the DSi XL, and would recommend it to someone looking to get into portable gaming.

Build quality is as you would expect it to be. Nintendo knows these things are going to be knocked around, and build them so they can take it. The unit I was sent is the bronze color, with the majority of the device having a matte finish. The top of the cover, however, is glossy and picks up finger prints. Not fingerprints like you’d see on a PSP but they are present.

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here as far as reviewing the DSi functionality. Yeah, it’s a DSi, only bigger. It’s designed for the older crowd that play those little $10 blackjack games from Radio Shack, and if they market it properly it’ll be huge. I have large hands. I like the DSi XL because I like the larger form factor, and the larger screens. My wife isn’t as much of a fan. She’s got smaller hands and found that the DSi XL made her left hand start to cramp after playing Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for about 30 minutes. I saw another review mention issues with screen clarity. I definitely didn’t notice this issue. I love playing RTS games like Civilization Revolution, and if the screen was fuzzy I’d definitely notice it. The screen was crisp and clear, and it didn’t feel like the games were designed for a smaller display at all, which was one of the things I was concerned about when I first read about the DSi XL.

Should you buy a DSi XL? Sure, if you don’t already have a DSi. I’d just suggest that you check one out at your local game shoppe first to be sure that the size won’t be an issue. Is it a reasonable upgrade from the DS or DS Lite? Absolutely. Should you buy one for your mom for Mother’s Day? Only if you are a huge geek and you’re sure she’ll like it.

Product Page: Nintendo DSi XL