Nintendo held a major press conference in Tokyo last night, with the aim being secifically to show their longtime fans, "Hey, we think about you, too." They announced quite a bit, but the big time number one announcement is that of the new Nintendo DSi.
The "i" in this case is likely a shortened version of "eye" as in camera. There are two cameras on this latest iteration, one internal camera centered just above the touchscreen, and one on the outside of the case. The system's changes don't end there, however. The GameBoy Advance slot, currently used on the NDS for backwards compatibility and peripherals like the Guitar Hero: On Tour Guitar-button pack and likely the Tony Hawk motion sensor pack, is gone from the DSi. Instead, there is a slot for Secure Digital (SD) cards. This slot is moved to the side, leaving the bottom of the device smooth and unbroken. As of now, the SD cards will be used for music and picture storage (that's right, it plays music, too!), and for the other major part of the announcement: DSi Shop.
DSi Shop will allow gamers to download new games directly to their DSi via the WiFi connection. The new shop will use the same points currently used to download games on the Wii via Virtual Console and Wii Shop, but it's unknown whether any will be cross-compatible. Free content will be pushed via the DSi Shop, and new consoles will come bundled with some points so you can get your shop on right out of the box.
A larger screen size for both screens (3.25" diagonal vs 3" on the DS) makes the device a little wider and longer, but the removal of the GBA slot also makes it slightly thinner. There's one extra brightness setting to give a little variation to the battery life, but the overall single-charge time is significantly smaller. According to Kotaku, at the lowest brightness setting, the DSi will give 9-14 hours of playtime, while the DS Lite holds a charge between 15-19 hours. The new multimedia capabilities and thinner design, along with the bigger screens, are likely to blame for the lower charge. Aside from these, everything else is the same: amount of colors, only the bottom screen is touch enabled, button layout is identical, etc.
Nintendo officially announced the Japanese launch date of November 1, 2008 at just under US$180. Nintendo says it will leave Japan "in 2009," with Nintendo Europe confirming a Spring release for the old country. No US Date or range has been confirmed at press time, but it is assuredly on the way.
UPDATE 10/02/08 16:10 EST:
In speaking to Press today, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime stated that the DSi won't be hitting North American retail channels until "well into calender year 2009," implying it will be a holiday 2009 release. Steady sales of the DS Lite are to blame, even though Nintendo stated last night they intend the DSi to be an additional platform for mobile gaming, not an outright replacement for the DS Lite.