I’ve always liked the idea of features converging into one gadget. Particularly when you are on the road it can help reduce the number of devices you need to take with you. But at the same time, I’m a believer that some activities warrant a dedicated device.
The 3DS is an interesting middle ground between these two for me. It is designed primarily to play games, but also offers a raft of other features that you can take advantage of largely for free. Because I’m usually focused on the games I don’t often put things like the Internet Browser and Letter Box message applications to the test.
In these two episodes of FGTV I lent a family a 3DS to take on holiday with them. Their mission was to use it to take pictures, find information online when they were abroad and keep in touch with us while they were away. We spent some time with them beforehand to see what their expectations were like as you can see above.
Once they had got back and recovered from the jet-lag, we dropped in again to see how it had gone. I had already a good idea that the Letter Box app was popular because I’d had a steady stream of pictures, drawings and recordings from them while they were out in Spain.
A really nice touch, which I wouldn’t have thought of doing myself, was that Vanessa purchased a few eShop games beforehand. No huge surprise there, the clever thing was that she left them as wrapped-up parcels on the 3DS so the kids could open them on the flight and on holiday. It just seemed like a really nice way to take advantage of the way Nintendo delivers new games to the system.
It seemed that the 3DS 3D photography was really popular with the kids, although the adults also still took traditional 2D photos as well. Almost as soon as I got in the door to see them I was shown a whole range of 3D pics by the youngsters of the different things they’d done. What was nice about this was that these pictures were obviously taken by the children. Not only the height of the view, but also the things they photographed were very different from the more traditional holiday pics taken by their parents.
Finally, it was good to hear that the Internet Browser served its purpose as well. As Vanessa mentions, the screens are a little small, but it did mean that she could avoid the queue for the internet-enabled computers in the hotel.
The only down side to it all was the battery life, something that meant that they had to use the device more sparingly. Turning off the Wi-Fi and the 3D effect when not using them can extend the battery life. As I reported in my 3DS XL battery test, the best way to extend things is with the power saving settings and an extra battery.
Seeing how useful the 3DS had been for them has actually inspired me to make more use of ours when we go away later in the year. I particularly like the idea of keeping up with grandparents via the Letter Box app — so we’ve set up granny with that on her 3DS. She actually managed to do it herself with only a little prompting from me on the phone, something the kids were very impressed by.
The 3DS is available from Amazon. eShop games as shown in the video are purchased directly on the device.
[Disclosure: Nintendo loaned a 3DS for these episodes]