DSi XL: Bigger really is better

Seems like we like everything big in this country.  Big cars, big hair, big portions in big fast food restaurant chains.  And now, big handheld games. With a screen that’s  93% bigger than a DSLite, the new DSiXL, releasing today,  is poised to be the – if you’ll excuse the expression –  next big thing from Nintendo, the Japanese handheld electronics giant.

What I want to know, is why aren’t certain other things considered better when they’re bigger?  Like my waistline.  Or the average dress size of a supermodel. Or the number I say when someone asks me my age.

Sadly, those things aren’t considered better when they’re bigger.  The Nintendo DSi XL, however, is.

The DSi XL comes in snazzy new colors.  The one that (full disclosure) Nintendo sent me for my review is Burgundy.  SO much more sophisticated than plain old black or white.  It’s got a camera, a slot for an SD card, internet access — all the same stuff as it’s predecessor, the DSi.  But this one is big. My first thought was – this will be harder to carry around.  But then I realized — the primary audience for DSi’s isn’t carrying them in their purse or suit jacket.  This thing is for the backpack crowd.  And if my kids are any indication, they backpack set is going to love it.

It’s huge!  Said my daughter when we opened the box.

It’s so cool. My son (who recently announced that he’s no longer “into” DS chimed in.

See?  Bigger.  Better.  Case closed.

But there are other things about the new DSiXL that I like even more.

First, it comes preloaded with three games.  I hate that you can buy your kid a DS and still it isn’t really a present until you shell out even more money for a game or two.  This baby came ready to play right out of the box.  Second:  it comes with a full sized stylus (as well as the regular puny always getting lost one.)  So even if you lose (if!! ha!) you’ve got the pen sized one as a back up — much harder to lose (and according to Nintendo, more precise.)

But most important, you can see it.  I don’t know about you, but I cannot count the number of times my kids have said “look at this, ,mommy” while showing me their DS, and all I see is screen.  The new XL has “enhanced side-viewing angles that make it easier for everyone” to see what’s happening.

That helped a lot when I tried the XL with the new America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s get Cooking game.  It’s  a nifty new cooking program based on the PBS Series. (More full disclosure) Nintendo sent me that, too.  But here’s the thing:  I really like it.  And lest you think it’s just because it’s free, you might be interested to know that Nintendo also sent me Personal Trainer: Cooking, not too long ago, and you know what I wrote about that?  Nothing.  If you don’t have anything nice to say…

ANYWAY – this one has real recipes from a reputable source, videos showing clearly how to do things like dice an onion, carve a turkey, or mince herbs, and even little tutorials on knife skills and sauteing. Tonight for dinner, my kids and I made maple mustard chicken from the program and some garlic bread, also from the program.  It was great.

First of all, the program tells each cook what to do.  “Nancy, turn the oven to 450.”  “Daughter, mix together the garlic and butter with the back of a wooden spoon.”  Each person is assigned a task, and those tasks are appropriate to their skill.  So you can sign in your eight year old as not being allowed to use knives or go near the stove.  The program will still find something for him or her  to do.  And if you have raw chicken on your hand and don’t want to touch the XL?  No problem, just tell it you’re ready to move on (yes, voice commands) and it tells you (yes, audio) the next step. Cool. It even has a built in timer, so it doesn’t just say “Put the garlic bread in the oven for 15 minutes” it tells you when the fifteen minutes are up.

Speaking of 15 minutes….do I think that the XL will have more than it’s 15 minutes of fame?  Maybe not.  But it has just enough improvements over the original DSi to make that one seem quaint in comparison.

And it actually got me and my two kids in the kitchen, cooking dinner together.

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Now that was big.

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