I got my crystal white DS Lite on Saturday. Parcel Force take EMS deliveries when they get into this country and they don’t deliver on Saturdays, but my Dad had a package to pick up from their depot and got mine while he was there. No import duty (yay!) but I had to pay VAT (nay!) and a £13.50 “handling charge” (BOO!). £33.10 extra, all in.
To apologise for the delay in shipping Play-Asia also threw in a free copy of Shaman King: Chou Senjiryokketsu 2 for the GBA, whatever that is. It seems to be a card battle game which is absolutely impenetrable in Japanese, but I appreciate the gesture.
The first thing to mention is the size difference, because there’s not a very big one. Next to each other the Lite is obviously smaller, but those expecting the same change as when going from GBA to the SP will be disappointed. It’s been slimmed down a bit and made to look much more iPod-like instead of an 80’s toy, and the glossy plastic is very nice if something of a magnet for fingerprints.
While it isn’t a huge reduction in size, the Lite seems a lot less bulky and much easier to fit into a pocket without looking like you have a deformity. It doesn’t seem to scratch easily (Nintendo are known for durability, after all) so any marks can be wiped off easily.
It’s the screens that are the big reason to upgrade, and they are possibly the best LCDs I’ve seen. I got one stuck pixel on the top screen but nothing too annoying, and having played with the brightness settings I settled on the third level because the highest one is almost too bright. The viewing angle is anothing thing which I’m sure people have seen in pictures but in the flesh is highly impressive. It’s a bit pointless for a handheld but I can look at it from a fairly tight angle and see things just as well as looking at it straight on. Due to the overall size reduction they appear bigger than the screens on the standard DS, but in actual fact they’re the same size.
The rest of the improvements are minor tweaks – the D-pad is now the same as the excellent GB Micro and Revolution one; the power switch is now a slider on the side, scuppering the fiends who enjoy pressing the front button to turn it off mid-play (I have immature friends); and it comes with a cover for the GBA slot so that the aesthetics aren’t ruined if you choose not to keep a GBA game in it all the time (it should be noted that GBA cards stick out of the Lite by about a centimetre which is annoying). The upgrade isn’t as essential as the move from GBA to SP was, but for those who use their DS a lot it’s worth it for the screens and size reduction alone.