Nintendo DS: Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Your Handheld
The Nintendo DS handheld gaming system is currently the most popular handheld console, and for good reason. With a plethora of amazing and creative game titles, WiFi capability, and a slick design (seen in the newest Lite model), the DS has plenty going for it. Gamers have responded well to the dual screens, one with a touchpad and the other just for viewing. However, many Nintendo DS fans may not know about some of the other useful operations that this powerful handheld may perform. Most of these are available for free online (often created by individuals, and called ‘homebrew’) although they often require a ‘flash cartridge.’ Often used by game developers, these cartridges have room for a micro-SD card onto which the user loads programs from their computer. The cartridge then fits into the DS the same way normal DS games are loaded. The R4 is one of the most popular DS flash cartridges, available online.
Mp3 player: Most Flash cartridges come with a built-in MP3 player functionality. This is thanks to a program that comes loaded on them, called ‘Moonshell.’ Simply copying and pasting MP3 file into a directory on an SD card, then booting that up on ones DS and running Moonshell allows the user play the music files. Sound quality, in my opinion, is fine, and one can listen to music either through headphones or the built-in speakers.
Sketchbook: While Nintendo has released a few games with drawing and sketching functionality, the real jewel in this area is in the form of a program called Colours. Available for free online (see links at the bottom of the page), Colours combines an incredibly powerful drawing program with the ability to email pictures (via wi-fi), save them as .PNGs for export to PC and a wonderful online gallery. The stunning array of features available for just drawing with Colours makes it a must have for any artist with a DS.
Animation Tool: Probably didn’t know that the DS could be used to create flip-book style animations, right? Using the free program, Flipbook, DS handheld users can edit a series of slides, and then make them into an animation. It is basically a paint program, with the ability to save each edited slide.
Internet Chat: The DS has a built in mic, that is used extensively in some games. It can also be used to supposedly chat with other users online. The DS wi-fi compatibility can be a shaky sometimes, making chat somewhat difficult. Hopefully, these kinks will be worked out, and someone will create a VoiP-style homebrew program for the DS.
Palm Pilot: Using the amazing free DS program DS Organize, users can turn their handheld into a palm pilot/PDA-style device. DS Organize has a calendar, wif-fi browser, IRC chat, notepad, address book, and many other useful features. It also has a homebrew database browser, so if you are connected you can access and download different useful applications, game and even demos.
Chat Program: The built-in DS program Pictochat was much-talked about before the popular handheld’s launch. It was even the feature of a FOX News report concerning dangerous individuals harassing minors with it. However, it really is rarely ever used by most DS people, partly thanks to the general lack of people in the vicinity with a DS! If you don’t have a cell phone, its a very easy way to chat with a friend, text message style (but with even greater functionality), in a classroom, dorm, or other closed areas.
Linux: One impressive homebrew (free!) application for the DS is a version of Linux just for this handheld. It’s been released online, and boasts several interesting features. Don’t expect a replacement for your Windows XP or Vista PC, but its probably a useful tool nonetheless.
Ebook Reader: Moonshell (previously mentioned for playing MP3s) also supports eBooks. Not only that, but there is a strong community of DS eBook fans, with several great resource sites, and a program created just for eBook reading other than Moonshell
Comic Book/Manga Reader: Along the same vein as the eBook reader is the Comic Book DS program. Another freebie, it was developed for reading Manga with the DS, and it is quite useful. It can be a little hard to find, but several websites host it. You will need to get a converter tool (also available online) to convert .JPG and other scans of comics to the Comic Book DS format.
Video and Movie player: Depending on the size of your SD card, you can watch videos of varying length on your DS. Once again, the popular Moonshell program comes in handy, as it is able to handle certain types of video files. A converter is often needed for this type of action, but the conversion process doesn’t seem to result in too much quality loss.The converter also compresses the file size, helping when the SD card space is limited.…