With Nintendo having just announced a new model of their DS handheld, I thought I'd take this opportunity to vent some long-held grievances against their last revision, the DS Lite. Quite frankly, it has always been my opinion that the DS Lite is, in most ways, an inferior design compared to the original DS (or "DS phat", as some proud owners affectionately refer to it).
While the DS Lite's casing is sleeker and comes in a greater variety of more striking colors compared to the bland options of the DS phat, these aesthetic improvements don't really hold up to scrutiny. At modestly close range, fingerprints really start to stand out against the glossy sheen of the casing, giving it an unavoidably filthy appearance. The shape, while sharper and marginally more portable, is nowhere near as comfortable. I don't even have especially large hands, but the small and rigid design still leads to cramping very quickly. GBA cartridges also no longer fit flush with the outline, instead sticking out obscenely.
While the button layout is slightly improved on the DS Lite, the buttons themselves are a step down. The squishy D-pad is far more error-prone, as directions are less-distinctly defined. Likewise, for the face buttons, the springier feel introduces a nebulous zone between press and depress. That may sound like nitpicking, but, on my unit at least, taps on the B button often do not register unless I make a conscious effort to press deeply. While I've considered that this may be a defect unique to my system, the ambiguity of the press/depress states makes it impossible for me to prove that the problem exists at all. It might just be human error, and so I've forced myself to live with this extremely annoying inconsistency.
Despite all my displeasure with the DS Lite, I could never go back to the DS phat. The much improved backlight and thicker stylus of the DS Lite are huge advantages that outweigh all my complaints. I just wish there could be one definitive design. Sadly, it doesn't look like my wish will be fulfilled with the new DSi, which adds extra (mostly useless) functionality, but largely retains the flawed design of the DS Lite, while introducing another compromise by ditching Slot-2.