Nintendo shows off the 3DS

“No glasses needed.” That was the message hammered home this morning at Nintendo’s E3 Media Briefing, where the new Nintendo 3DS was unveiled. No price or time frame was given, but E3 attendees are being offered the chance to play with the new device themselves.

Nintendo has not yet revealed the 3DS‘ full specs, but here’s what we do know. The touchscreen, on the lower panel, offers more precision than the DS’ touchscreen, and although there’s a “telescoping stylus” that comes with it, extending to four inches in size, players at E3 are being encouraged to use their fingers. The touchscreen has a 320×250 pixel resolution.

Up top is where the real magic happens, with a larger, 3.53-inch widescreen display. This display is where 3D imagery is shown, and as I noted before, Nintendo is most proud of the fact that its 3D gaming doesn’t require special glasses. It offers a 800×240 pixel resolution, which is a significant bump from the DS.

Early word from the show floor is that the 3D effect is fairly dazzling, though it only works for players looking straight-on at the 3D screen. Those watching from the sides will see only the distorted dual images. But reports indicate that the imagery is sharp and responsive. A slider on the right side of the screen allows you to adjust the depth of the 3D effect from high, all the way down to standard 2D.

The overall look and feel of the device is very close in size and weight to the DS, but Nintendo is quick to note that this design is not final. (Which, based on the way they refined the Wiimote right up until its launch, just means that the design here is close, but it will be tweaked before release.) The 3DS will have two cameras on its rear side, allowing users to take pictures in true stereoscopic 3D. There’s also a camera on the front side, just like the DSi. All three cameras are set to 640×480 pixel resolution.

Additional stats: 3DS game cards will hold 2 GB of data; WiFi operates in the 2.4 Ghz band, supporting IEEE 802.11 with enhanced security; just like the Wii, the 3DS will be configured to receive data via the Internet while in sleep mode; and in a welcome improvement over the DS, there’s a new “slide pad” that’s basically a jazzed-up D-pad-style joystick. Everything I’m hearing from E3 is that the slide pad is smooth and responsive.

The rest of the 3DS’ specs are similar to its predecessor, with the usual face buttons, microphone, and both a motion and gyro sensor. It has stereo speakers on either side of the 3D screen, and runs on a lithium ion battery. Unsurprisingly, the 3DS will play DS games (but won’t up-convert them to 3D), which is recharged via a cradle charger.

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Robin Parrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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