Ahhh... Nintendo. Nobody can beat Nintendo when it comes to the handheld gaming market. Nokia had a go with the N-Gage. I've only ever seen one N-Gage. And Sony had a slightly more respectable go with the PSP, which, while fun, broke fairly easily, became scratched and generally fell out of favour among those who wanted a more pick-up-and-play gaming experience.
The DS Lite improves on Nintendo's original release by making the console thinner, lighter and considerably better to look at. It's clear the Japanese gaming gurus took onboard all of the initial criticisms (of which there were not many) and built something that defies all expectations of handheld gaming.
To start with: the graphics. 2d graphics are crystal clear with bright, vibrant colours and a great resolution. The majority of DS games use a 2 dimensional system which, although not as good looking as 3d graphics, still work astonishingly well withing the context of the games. 3d graphics come as standard a lot more on later DS games as it's capabilities were put to better use, but graphics are not quite on par of those on the PSP.
The sound out of the DS is also fairly impressive. Sporting a pair of small speakers- one on either side of the upper screen- the DS is capable of producing stereo sound. For those who like their sound crisper, the DS also has a headphone port. The volume control is on the closest edge of the DS, meaning it is very difficult to change accidentally while playing a game.
The DS Lite is compatible with both DS cards and Gameboy Advance cartridges. Sadly, it is no longer compatible with the original gameboy cartridges as the Gameboy Advance was. As DS software is region-free you can play US or Japanese imports on your DS without having to resort to risky modifications.
One of the main things that the DS has going for it, however, is the multiplayer aspect of the games. Most games have some sort of multiplayer mode built in meaning with more than one DS you and your friends could all play on the same game together. Several great games also have a DS Download Play feature, where only one game card is needed for a group of people to play all or part of the multiplayer game.
The new lines of the DS Lite makes it look gorgeous and more than a little bit elegant. The case is hard-wearing and has a feel of quality about it. All of the buttons are responsive but solid and the screens do not scratch easily. The folding clam-shell design further protects the screens when not in use and the stylus has been thickened slightly since the console's predecessor to allow it to be used easier.
The DS Lite is a great console for family and friends. With a strong focus on the multiplayer market, Nintendo have created a wonderful console with a massive range of family friendly games for fun for all ages.