REVIEW: Nintendo DS Browser

Nintendo DS Browser LogoIt seems like a perfect fit: The Nintendo DS is small, portable, and Wi-Fi ready. Why didn’t Nintendo include a browser in it? Because the DS was designed as a gaming machine first and foremost. Need proof? This is it.

After setting some initial options, you’re taken right into the browser with the start page. Power users will likely want to change things around a bit, and they’ll be disappointed in the paltry selection. You can’t change or customize the start page. You can only choose between Yahoo and Other for a search engine (with the Other choice leaving it up to you to figure out the correct prefix). No cookie or history handling options, because nothing is going to be saved anyway. Which is sad, because the browser’s built-in list of trusted root certificates is surprisingly low, thus giving me prompts on every secure site I visited.

The Opera web browser is certainly capable of displaying today’s web pages, but the major problem is that loading pages is so ssssslllllooooowwwww, thanks to the DS’s 66MHz processor and 14MB of RAM (including the memory expansion pack). Even in Small Screen Rendering mode, which is basically Lynx with fonts and images. However, a lot of today’s web sites don’t easily fall back so well, so there’s Overview Mode. One screen — the Shrink Page — fits the entire page width to the width of the DS screen while the other screen — the Magnify Page — is zoomed in. Looks good, but navigation is a pain in the ass. You either keep the Shrink Page on the bottom and pray you can hit those tiny links in Direct Event Mode, keep the Magnify Page on the bottom screen and get used to a lot of scrolling (with a lot of hiccup) with the Control Pad in Direct Event Mode, or you constantly switch screens.

Despite all this, the Nintendo DS Browser falls short of the dishonorable Brainwrecked label because it actually works.