Along with just about everyone else (and their grans) we really, really like the Nintendo DS handheld family. Apart from being one of the only handhelds in history to support a stream of consistently decent first and third party titles, it holds a special place in our hearts for bringing touchscreens to the unwashed masses before they were cool. That's why we're very happy that the newest iteration, the Nintendo 3DS, has finally been officially announced at this year's E3 gaming conference in LA.
The 3DS offers gamers 3D gaming without glasses. Through a process called stereoscopy, images on-screen are separated into two different light paths -- one for each eye. With each of your eyes viewing a slightly different image, a convincing 3D illusion can be produced. You don't need to wear glasses because the screen itself redirects the images.
It does mean your head needs to be in a fairly specific position for the 3D to work, but a '3D Depth Slider' on the console that adjusts the level of the 3D effect should give you some control over this. The 3D can also be turned off entirely if it's giving you a headache.
The top LCD 3D screen measures in at 3.53 inches with an impressive resolution of 800x240 pixels (400 pixels are allocated for each eye for 3D gaming) while the lower touchscreen panel is still 3.02 inches in diameter with a maximum resolution of 320x240 pixels.
The 3DS also ups the stakes on the camera front, offering two cameras on the console's lid for taking 3D photos. Control-wise, things have also been given an upgrade -- the discerning reader will have noticed a 360-degree analog stick sitting pretty on the left side of the console, with Nintendo's signature D-Pad now relegated to the bottom-left of the chassis. The famous Start and Select buttons can now be found underneath the the touchscreen, and a curious new addition is the 'Home button' which presumably will be used to quickly jump out of a game and back to the 3DS's homescreen.
As far as games are concerned, we recommend checking out our sister site Gamespot's E3 coverage for up-to-the-minute info on new software, but we can tell you that Kid Icarus will be making his triumphant return to the gaming world in 3D, and that Konami will be remaking Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater for the new handheld.
The 3DS currently looks as if it will come in black, bright red and turquoise at launch -- those last two colour choices are presumably an effort to subconsciously remind us of 60s-style 3D specs.
Wi-Fi connectivity remains, and if you're keen on dimensions or fancy modelling your own 3DS out of clay prior to the console's launch, we can tell you that it'll be 5.3 inches wide, 2.9 inches long and 0.8 inches tall. If you actually do model a 3DS in clay, and post evidence of doing so to our Facebook fan page, we'll send you something nice from our prize cupboard.
Pricing is, as you'd expect TBA, and Nintendo are keeping things unbelievably vague with promise of a release sometime before March 2011. You'll hear more as soon as we do, but in the meantime let us know in the comments whether you'll be buying one, and whether you think the 3DS sounds the death knell for Sony's rival PSP handheld...