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HolidayBuyer's Guide

It's been a long, emotional ride, but we now have less than a week until Nintendo's long-awaited 3DS console hits UK shelves. Arriving on Friday 25 March and priced at around £220, the 3DS has already been subjected to our intensive review treatment, scoring four out of a possible five stars -- a very respectable tally indeed.

Being generous sorts, we thought we'd collect together all our gorgeous 3DS photos in one place, so you can cradle the 3DS with your eyes while your brain does complicated maths in a bid to figure out whether you can afford one of your own. Just click on the big photo above to enjoy our walking tour through the 3DS' various bits and bobs.

You've probably heard that the 3DS pumps out 3D images without requiring the user to wear any horrible, stupid, ugly, heavy 3D glasses like the ones you need for 3D TVs, or watching 3D films in the cinema. It does this using parallax barrier technology -- a thin layer within the 3DS' top screen is covered in tiny slits and obscures parts of the display from certain angles. So when you're looking at the console from straight on, each of your eyes sees a slightly different picture, producing a stereoscopic effect.

We were dead impressed with the 3D effect -- it looks really sharp and deep, though the quality of that effect will vary depending on what kind of mastery games developers have over the 3D technology. We've seen some games that look incredibly good, and some where the 3D effect looks so messy and confusing you'll want to snap the 3DS in half like a Twiglet and eat it. Like a Twiglet.

There's another downside -- you have to hold your head at a fairly precise angle to get the 3D effect working. Move out of this sweet spot and the image will go dark and blurry (again, like a Twiglet), and you won't be able to make out the on-screen action. Not ideal if the game requires you to shake the console around, or if you're the kind of person who's unable to keep the darn controller still in your hands jeez, Sis, stop elbowing me!

But as we noted in our proper big review (it's full of long words like 'undoubtedly' and 'predecessors') there's a good deal more to the 3DS than some triple-dimensional trickery, and this is a great little gaming machine even without the 3D effect.

It's backwards-compatible with DS and DSi cartridges, so hopefully you didn't already burn your old games. There are two cameras on the front for taking 3D photos, and features such as Street Pass, which lets your 3DS trade Mii info with other 3DS consoles in close proximity. And it plays games as well, which is passably entertaining.

But this story's not for in-depth analysis -- we've done that already and now our fingers hurt. No, this is about eye candy. So candy your eyes with our gorgeous photos above, and let us know whether you'll be splashing out on a 3DS next week in the comments, or via our Facebook wall.

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The 3DS looking glossy from the back.
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The 3D effect is limited to the top screen.
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When closed, you can see the top screen is a little larger than the lower portion.
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Around the back you can see the slot where you stick your games.
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There's a stylus on board for the touchscreen, but we think your fingers will be fine most of the time.
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This slider controls the depth of the 3D effect.
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Two cameras on the lid let you take 3D photos.
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The controls have that indefinable Nintendo feel.
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The AR cards let you play mind-bending augmented reality games. Check our video to see these in action!
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This is the black version of the 3DS. These photos are from an early hands-on session last year.
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It's a chunky console, but it'll still fit in your pockets.
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The analogue stick is called the 'circle pad'. It's actually grey on both versions of the console -- you're looking at a pre-production model.
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Select, home and start buttons are lined up along the bottom of the lower screen.
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This is a 3.5mm socket for your headphones.
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On the right of the 3DS is a switch to turn the wireless functions on or off.
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And on the left there's an SD-card slot. A 2GB SD card comes with the console.
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Draw your own imaginary smiley face on the 3DS' lid.
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The cameras aren't great, but there are fun effects to ease the pixellated pain.
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The buttons feel well constructed -- we can't see them flying off and hitting you in the eye. Probably.
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Here's the 3DS with a human hand for scale. Our hands are normal sized, honest.
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Finally let's wind down with some press shots. Ours are better, right? RIGHT?
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The 3DS comes in 'Aqua Blue' or 'Cosmos Black' -- that's black or blue to you and I.
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It's out on 25 March, priced around £220.
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