I think my favorite part of the Nintendo DSi so far is the music that plays when you're in the DSi Shop. It's a lot like the Wii Shop music, but somehow funkier. But the music doesn't make the purchasing decisions any easier, and the shop itself doesn't really go out of its way to let you know what the five paid applications up for purchase actually are. So it's with that in mind that I set out to write reviews of each of them.
It actually wasn't that tough to crank those out, because most of the available downloads are really simple. And Master of Illusion Express: Funny Face is simply a bad idea. It's essentially asking you to pay $2 for something that would be a bad free demo for Master of Illusion. But by and large, I'm pretty happy with the initial offerings. So here are the five games with links to the reviews.
If you're down to purchase more DSi Shop points, then hey, go for broke. But if you're looking to burn through the free 1,000 points you get when you connect to the shop, there are a few different ways you could go.
If you want to maximize your spending potential (meaning: blow through the entire grand at once), I'd say go with AQUIA and WarioWare. AQUIA is a heck of a puzzle game. WarioWare might not hold your interest for long, but it makes for a good tech demo that shows off the DSi camera.
You could also go with AQUIA and Bird & Beans. Those are, I feel, the two best games available right now. That'd leave you with 300 points that you could spend on Master of Illusion Express, but that's a bad idea. So just hold onto those points for a bit and get something else when it's available.
If you want to just waste the free points on disappointing stuff, get Funny Face and Brain Age Express: Math. Sure, you're getting a bad deal, but why not just waste the free points and be done with it?
OK, yeah, don't do that.
Of course, you can also download the web browser for free. It's Opera-based, much like the Wii browser. I haven't messed with it much, but it feels like your typical non-computer web browser... no Flash support, limited memory that makes it choke on larger pages, and so on. Actually, I only loaded up the Giant Bomb homepage and when it didn't load, I closed it and haven't tried it since. So one could argue that I haven't put it through its paces. But I never really saw the point to even putting a browser on something like a DS or a PSP. When I'm around a Wi-Fi signal that I have full access to, I usually have a laptop with me. If not, my cell phone does just fine, too. Your situation may vary.
As for the rest of the DSi's feature set, it's a quality device with a slick new UI. It could serve as an audio player, but since it plays AAC files and not MP3s, it's absolutely useless to me. I guess if it was my only portable music option, that could persuade me to re-encode some files... but I'm a firm believer in the power of music-playing devices that were built from the ground up to play music. So, again, you might find that feature a little more useful (or disappointing) than I do.
Of course, it also plays DS games pretty well. The larger screens make colorful stuff like Henry Hatsworth and Rhythm Heaven pop off the display really nicely.
Overall, I don't really think that most existing DS owners need to upgrade, but that's because money is tight right now, and $170 is a bit of a premium for the handful of new features you'll get. But if you don't have a DS yet, skip the old model and start with a DSi. It's worth the extra bit of cash you'll need to start at the top.
Also, if you're a straight-up hustler, get the blue one. It's a great shade of blue with a nice, matte finish. Don't you already have enough black consoles and handhelds in your life? Seriously, live a little.