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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2006, 12:03 GMT
Nintendo DS looks beyond gamers
Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata with the DS Lite, AFP
The DS is getting a TV tuner and a web browser
Owners of Nintendo's DS game gadget could soon be using it to browse the web or watch TV.

By June Nintendo will release an add-on card for the handheld that has Opera's web browsing software on it.

Following this, it will release another card with a TV tuner inside that picks up programmes broadcast for portable devices.

Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata said the add-ons were part of a plan to make the DS appeal to more than just gamers.

Program plan

Speaking at a conference detailing Nintendo's strategy over the coming months, Mr Iwata said the browser add-on card was expected to cost about 3,800 yen (18.55).

The DS already has built-in wireless networking that lets gamers take each on via a free net-based service.

Although the web browser for the DS will be released worldwide, Mr Iwata said the TV tuner was only intended for Japan. In April, many Japanese broadcasters will start transmitting programmes just for mobile gadgets.

The TV tuner would be available by the end of 2006, said Mr Iwata.

"These products propose a different use for the DS in entirely new fields," Mr Iwata told attendees at the briefing.

Screenshot from Nintendogs, Nintendo
Cuteness abounds in hit DS game Nintendogs
He also talked about some of the forthcoming software for the DS, some of which also helps to round out its plan to make the handheld more than just a game gadget.

Included in the new software line-up is a foreign language guide for visitors to Japan, a training program that helps Japanese people improve their handwriting and a cooking guide that reads out step-by-step instructions for dishes.

For the gamers future releases include a version of Tetris for the DS that features appearances by Mario and Donky Kong.

Since it launched in Japan in December 2004, Nintendo has sold more than 14.4 million DS units worldwide. Mr Iwata said it has proved so popular that some shops were reporting shortages.

He added that Nintendo had sold more DS handhelds faster than arch-rival Sony managed with its PSP gaming handheld.

Sony, too, has ambitions for the PSP to reach beyond the core of gamers. Many movies are now released in a format the device can play. Sony has also released a media manager that lets people put music, movies and pictures on their gadget.

Demand is expected to get a boost in March when Nintendo releases the DS Lite, a slimmed down version of the handheld.

One of the most popular games for the DS has been Nintendogs in which players get the chance to raise and train a digital dog.

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