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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 June 2006, 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK
New DS proves object of desire
By Neil McGreevy

Nintendo DS
The DS Lite is available in white and black
Until Nintendo's Wii games leaves the starting gates, the company is eschewing the relative dead duck GameCube and pumping its creative juices into the ridiculously popular DS handheld.

Yet for all its unique features and quirky software, the console could hardly be dubbed truly portable.

Its chunky Fisher Price stylings pale in comparison to the techno-gloss of Sony's rival PlayStation Portable (PSP).

In time honoured tradition, Nintendo has snubbed the loyal band first to take the DS home by releasing a new, improved model, a mere 15 months after it first hit the market.

It will come as no surprise to the hardened Nintendophile. The N64 was the only console in the Japanese giant's history to escape the makeover treatment.

Yet the DS Lite represents such an aesthetic and technical leap over mark one, it is hard not to recommend splashing out again, even if you already adore your trusty original.

Brighter screen

Retaining the screen-saving clamshell design, the DS Lite is slimmer and sexier than its predecessor - 39% smaller and 21% lighter, to be exact.

Japanese shoppers looking at the Nintendo DS
The DS flew off shelves in Japan when it went on sale
Despite the diminutive dimensions, though, squinting is not an issue as the screens remain the same size.

Nodding to the liveries of recent design triumphs, the DS Lite will be available in iPod white or sleek PSP black.

Style aside, the Lite's real trump card is its screen brightness control, allowing players four blistering settings which can pump up the luminescence to PSP-trouncing levels.

With the hardware effectively unchanged, the machine still lacks the media playback of the PSP, but it can at least now turn heads in public.

In Japan the DS Lite could not have been more popular had it been given away for free, with 600,000 being snapped up every month.

It hits the European High Street on 23 June, with a raft of quality games hot on its heels spearheaded by New Super Mario Bros a week later.

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