Potentially DStructive

Potentially DStructive

This morning as I was about to leave for school, I began to have a rather interesting conversation with Smalldude on MSN. We got to talking about the potential expandability of the Nintendo DS and that the inevitable outcome of a multifunction device that could potentially rival consumer electronics was in sight. Once we began, it became obvious. The DS has the potential to deliver more functions than the ‘multimedia device’, the PSP. Just how far is limited only by the imagination of the developers or the designers. So, what can the DS do that the PSP apparently cannot?

Possibility #1. A DS Camera. The DS, unlike the PSP, is a cartridge based system. This immediately gives it the physical ability to have new hardware attached, whereas the PSP cannot. As a disc based system, there are no ‘slots’ or ‘attachment clips’ that allow for such expansion. Sure, there are the memory stick slots and USB ports, but how would you be holding the PSP and using an external hardware device to take photos? Not only that, but it means one more cable for you to carry wherever you go. The DS on the other hand, has not one, but two slots. A camera device could plug into the GBA port, utilising Secure Digital cards for the transfer of pictures to PC via card reader. The GBA port provides a robust port for hardware expansion, and can be accessed by DS applications, as with the upcoming Sonic Rush, which will detect Sonic Advance 1, 2 and 3 for the unlocking of items. Furthermore, there is no monopoly on SD cards as there is with the highly expensive Memory Stick Duo cards, which technology belongs to Sony. This means cheaper storage.

One of Nintendo’s technology partners is Panasonic. Nintendo would have no trouble striking a deal with the consumer electronics giant to produce good quality, relatively cheap optical equipment for use in a DS camera. We’ve already seen the Game Boy become a digital camera, and as basic as it was, it was quite a success. The DS now has the power to be a decent, high definition colour camera, with all that’s required is Nintendo to realise that potential. I agree with Smalldude’s suggestion of an editing tool, using the stylus to make changes to images, perhaps even tagging them with captions. The DS is a perfect system for this with the touch screen. At Spaceworld some years ago, Nintendo did have on display a Game Boy Advance camera, so the idea is already there.

Probability: Unlikely.

Possibility #2. Smalldude came up with the idea of a device that allows the playback of MP3s. Well, one already exists in the form of the Play Yan, quite a vast step in a new direction for Nintendo which even allowed for the playback of MPEG 4. However, we came up with the idea of a new device, taking advantage of the DS’s hardware. Something that can play back MPEG in stereo, have a better sound quality while maintaining the use of SD cards as the storage medium. Not only that, but like all devices and their advances in hardware optimisation, Nintendo could improve the controls as well as adding an editing suit to add or change files and folders.

Furthermore, it could be a complete multimedia tool, in that it could display slideshows, send images to friends, play movies from DS or SD cards, edit images taken on the DS camera, record voice and sound as well as cutting and pasting movies together that could also be shot with the DS camera. The thing is, with multimedia, the possibilities are endless. And with more and more multifunction devices, the DS is in the better position of the two competing handhelds to provide these new found functionalities.

Probability: Semi Exists/Likely

Possibility #3. A wireless broadband internet connection. There are an increasing number of these connections being made available for the D-Link ports of notebook computers. Such a device could be made for the Game Boy Advance slot that allows for a direct internet connection, rather than having to be in a hotspot or within range of a wireless router. Such a device would mean that you actually could play Mario Kart DS or Animal Crossing Online anywhere, regardless of your location.

Such setups provide high convenience for their ability to be used anywhere and everywhere. However, the likelihood of it materialising is very low. Smalldude actually suggested a device that increases the range of the wi-fi function of the DS. Say the person you wanted to play with wasn’t within 30 metres, but rather, a couple of blocks away. Or you are in an aeroplane, and the person with a DS seated all the way up in first class is looking for a match. With extended range, even the richest people won’t be able to buy their way to victory against the toughest competitor seated all the way back in economy. This device could possibly prove to be the most viable. Furthermore, unless you have some strange antenna plugged into your memory card slot or USB port on the PSP, it isn’t possible on Sony’s portable in a nice, concealed package, hidden away in the console innards.

Probability: Unlikely

Possibility #4. GPS/Mobile Phone/Voicemail Device. Imagine, you’re trekking through the forest, you find yourself going in circles. You don’t have a conventional cellular phone or global positioning system in your backpack. No problem, just whip out your DS-cum-cellular/mobile device and call for help. You live in Australia and have no reception? Fantastic, international satellites to the rescue with GPS. The DS could operate as a mobile device, using the DS card slot for a SIM adapter while an antenna-enabled cartridge slotted into the GBA port. The antenna could double as a GPS antenna.

Smalldude added to the idea with voicemail, which would fit in with this function perfectly. The DS, through the use of the GPS/Cellular antenna, could double as a voicemail device, providing a way to transmit messages in real time or leave messages for people to find later. Have the DS camera? Make a short movie, save to SD card, transfer to the Cellular antenna cartridge and send a personalised message to a friend. It’s that simple, and although it is technically possible on the PSP, the PSP cannot be upgraded to act as a cellular device or to take movies on its own without some type of external device.

Probability: Unlikely

Unfortunately, the company that Nintendo currently is nullifies any chance of most of the above from ever happening, but it’s nice to speculate, as is what most articles on the internet do. Who knows, they may actually learn from their mistakes and unleash an aggressive stance in the next few years. But the more new ideas that are conceived in terms of consumer electronics, it is obviously clear that the DS is, in terms of hardware expansion, potentially DStructive to any hardware functionality of the PSP.