Aside from lacking the 3D effect on the top screen, there's nothing the 2DS can't do that the 3DS and XL can. (Yes, the 2DS can play all of the 3DS games, and most DS/DSi games.) The 2DS can even take 3D photos with its dual lenses around back. It also has the same power connection interface as all the other 3DS models, though this version won't fit in any charging dock.
Since it can't be closed like the 3DS and XL, the screens can be put in standby mode by sliding a sleep switch on the bottom right of the 2DS.
You know...for kids!
Since the 2DS is intended for younger gamers, it's only right that I let a few have a go with the 2DS. I handed it off to my cousins, a 9-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl, for a few hours.
I noticed they had some trouble really wrapping their hands around the device, opposed to my gigantic paws that cradle it with ease. The big shoulder buttons seemed to work out well, and there was also no issue in regards to stylus play. The lightweight 2DS isn't a strain for young ones where heavier portable devices may be more cumbersome.
The plastic encasing that holds the 2DS together doesn't seem like the strongest material ever constructed, but it should do the job surviving the occasional bumps and bruises that a child might expose it to. That said, a drop onto a hard surface from a few feet up might spell the end of your 2DS for good. Also, the plastic window that protects the top screen looks like it's just begging to be cracked.
As childproof as the 2DS might be, it's not impervious to the gunk and grime that children will almost certainly introduce to the system. To help ease the pain of a worried parent, Nintendo is selling a $13 padded foam zipper case for the 2DS that also holds three game cards. I'd implore anyone to buy this along with the system no matter what age it's purchased for.
Like I stated earlier, the 2DS is a completely capable little machine missing only the ability to display 3D games. With that omission I figured I'd notice an improvement in battery life, but unfortunately that's not the case. In my few days of playing around with the 2DS, I couldn't discern any bump in battery life whatsoever. It's not any worse than the 3DS XL, though, so you'll still get around 3 to 5 hours or of play time.
I'll admit, I initially scoffed at the 2DS because I didn't realize who it was for. It's not for me and it's probably not for the older gamer who still plays portable consoles. Instead, it's almost the perfect fit for a child's first gaming system (especially if you're tired of your kid bogarting your iPhone).