internet browser for Nintendo DS

Mark pointed out in yesterday’s dsbuttons.com post that there’s an internet browser for the Nintendo DS. This made me very excited. There’s interesting details related to this.

WHO
The browser is made by Opera.
Here’s Opera’s official page on their DS broswer.

AVAILABILITY
Currently the Opera DS browser is only available in the following locations:
Japan (introduced 7/24/2006)
Europe (introduced 10/6/2006)
Australia (introduced beginning of 1/2007)

The Opera DS broswer is not available in the U.S. yet. BOOOOO!

WHAT YOU NEED TO BUY
Those who want the Opera DS browser need to purchase the Opera cartridge/RAM expansion pack. It retails in the UK for about 30 pounds (the same cost of a game cartridge). Plugging in just the game cartridge won’t work. The expansion pack also needs to be connected to the GBA slot on the front of the DS (for cache storage). nice illustration here. The trick with this cartridge system is that any future updates in the browser software would require a whole new cartridge.

Though wikipedia suggests that you don’t need to buy a game cartridge for a test drive, “According to the browser’s manual, the system is free to use at ‘Nintendo retail hotspots only’: the Wi-Fi access points installed in Nintendo DS kiosks in stores.” So it sounds like you can test out the browser at a Nintendo retail hotspot to see if you like it first. Remember it’s only in Japan, Europe, and Australia for now.

HOW IT WORKS
The small DS screens require a new way to navigate. Nintendo and Opera offer two ways to browse on the DS.
1. Small Screen Rendering (SSR) The width of the webpage fills both the top and bottom screen. There’s a scroll bar on the right for longer webpages.
2. Overview The width of the webpage fills the bottom screen. There’s a selector box. Whatever is in the selector box appears on the top screen so you get a zooming effect. The selector box can be moved around with the stylus. Scrolling is done by dragging the selector box downward.

At the bottom of the DS browser is a horizontal row of buttons. Go here to see a screen shot. Here’s a list of what they are:
Back
Forward
Stop/reload
History
URL
Bookmarks (yes, you can save bookmarks. phew)
Find
Settings
Help
SSR/Overview mode
Load images (Toggle image loading)
Zoom
Content Magic (Go top/bottom of page)

Hit the “url” button to bring up the keyboard. Everything I’ve seen says that using keyboard is very intuitive. You can also handwrite the url. I’m guessing that writing emails is just a matter of tapping the stylus in the email field which brings up the keyboard.

WHAT’S NOT SUPPORTED
According to wikipedia, “The browser doesn’t support Flash, PDF, or audio and video, mainly due to the DS limited hardware resources. The capacity for the memory expansion pack is 10MB.”

No Flash? That’s almost a deal breaker. you know how many sites out there use Flash? alot. And tons of sites about design are built in Flash. That makes me sad. I would have to assume the CSS is supported. CSS is everywhere nowadays.

Apparently, certain popular IM clients like AIM Express and meebo.com don’t work either. Though javascript sites, like http://moba.e-messenger.net/webaim/mobile/, are reported to work.

SPEED
Joshua Zimmerman wrote a review of the Japenese Nintendo DS internet broswer. He reports that, “Gizmodo and Kotaku take two minutes each (to load). Slashdot takes a full minute (to load).” That’s just one person’s report. Plus, since he has a japanese card, it may be contacting a Japanese server to pull the pages.

U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
Opera has a user forum for their DS browser if you want to scream and shout about the fact that Opera DS has not reached American soil yet.

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Matt Maldre
Admin
17 years ago

Man, i’m starting to see more and more of a need to make a version of my site for small browser windows for the: DS, Wii, PSP, cell phones, blackberries, etc.

I love how the DS takes advantage of their dual screen for browsing webpages. One screen for the full page, one for the zoomed in. Brilliant.

It would also be cool if you could save your DS chats with people. Or maybe be able to email a chat image with someone.