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Nintendo Browser Impressions and a Little Surprise from YesAsia.com


Nintendo Browser Impressions and a Little Surprise from YesAsia.com

With the long lines for a computer at the univsersity library and little desk space when you do manage to get one, I thought I would try out the DS' Nintendo Browser and put in an order at YesAsia.com. The package arrived around a week later after putting in the order and there was a little surprise in it when I opened it today... They sent me a free copy of the August issue of the Chinese GameWave magazine, orz.


A free GameWave magazine!

It's not much but it was still quite a surprise. I thought they misplaced an order or something at first but then again, they might have added it in to stop the DS box from sliding about. Last time I ordered Ouendan from them they never packaged it this way, though.

Box Contents

There's that little memory expansion cartridge.

First Impressions

Turning on the DS, the browser boots up instantly which is a great plus compared to slow booting PCs and you are greeted with the Opera logo.

Running the browser for the first time, you are asked to set the default keyboard layout and there are several languages available including English (US/UK), Italian, German and French. You are then asked to set the time offset and a password to protect the software if you want. Afterwards, you are presented with the default offline homepage that links you to Nintendo and Opera's homepage online as well as a search box that makes use of Yahoo Japan.

Nintendo Browser Homepage.

Nintendo Browser Homepage.

All the functions you need access to in a browser are available using the buttons along the bottom of the screen. Site loading times vary using my recently purchased Netgear router with simple sites such as the Google search engine loading up in a matter of seconds. Bigger, more image intensive sites such as Gamespot.com or Ign.com on the other hand take something along the line of 3 minutes or so before you can do anything with the browser. The software slows down badly while it's loading these sites. Once the sites are fully loaded into the expansion cartridge however, you can freely browse around and images are only displayed when you view that certain part of the site.

Browsing IGN.com.

Browsing IGN.com... There's the new Trauma Centre for the Wii.

Sites are all displayed properly as they would be on a standard computer although anything that makes use of plugins such as Flash as left blank. Whenever you browse larger sites, you'll find the browser eventually runs of memory and a triangular exclamation mark appears on the top screen. You are then given the option to either clear out the memory or browse the site as is. The only times I've experienced this is on the Gamespot.com page. Other sites seem to load fine including many of Nintendo's own game sites and various blog sites.

Out of memory.

You can just make out the "out of memory" warning symbol to the top-right.

Going into the browser settings, you'll find you can turn off images by default to speed up browsing. Encoding wise, things are a bit limited. There are only Japanese (Shift-JIS, ISO-2022-JP, EUC-JP) and Western European encodings. Although there is support for unicode, I found some Traditional Chinese characters aren't displayed at all on the HK Yahoo site while Korean Hangul and Simplified Chinese doesn't display at all. In fact, if you try viewing some sites in these languages, the browser stops responding completely and you'll have to turn off your DS then back on to use it again.


Settings page where you can configure how pages appear by default.

Browsing is a breeze and I find the 2 screen mode works the best where you slide a transparent rectangle about on the bottom screen and the contents are magnified on the top screen. The two screens can be swapped around quickly so that you can tap on links and text boxes easily or, you can make use of the D-Pad. Along the top of the top screen you can see how strong your wireless signal is, a scrolling URL if it's too long to fit and the dual screen symbol for the DS which is animated as a page is loaded into memeory.

As for inputting text, you can either use the standard QWERTY touch screen keyboard or, the handwriting feature. Although Japanese Kana and simple Kanji is recognised fairly accurately, more complex Kanji don't fair as well.

Text entry.

Here's handwriting mode. You can also use keyboard mode for Kana.

Text entry.

Entering text is simple but, no copy and paste function.

All browsing history and the memory cache on the cartridge is cleared when you turn off the DS while only your settings and bookmarks are maintained.

Overall, it's a very good browser apart from the slightly slow browsing speeds with bigger sites and limited language support. However, for general browsing, checking your e-mail or posting on message boards, the Nintendo Browser works great! Now I don't have to stand in those queues at the university library or labs just to check my e-mail quickly. A little less weight during holidays too!

Why not take a break?

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