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A fun dimension

It catches you off guard, really. The first time you look at the screen of the Nintendo 3DS portable gaming console, your brain desperately tries to adjust to what it’s supposed to be seeing, right until you hit that sweet spot in front of the console and see the game in 3D. Sweet, glorious, glasses-free 3D, no less.

Autoscopic 3D, pretty much the Holy Grail of 3D tech today, makes its mass-market debut in the Nintendo 3DS, and if you’ve been considering flying it in from the US/UK (or your nearest grey market), here’s what you should know about the 3DS.

Why you should get one…

Glasses-free 3D: Hands down the biggest reason, this innovation has a far reaching impact on the 3D industry as a whole. A slider alongside the top screen controls how far back objects appear on the screen, giving you a feeling of space and depth. Don’t want 3D for a particular game? Turn the slider off, it’s that simple. I suspect you will leave it on for some time at least — the 3D on this is really very good, not just a party trick.

3D photos: The 3DS sports two forward facing VGA cameras to create a 3D photo, which you can view directly on the console screen. Such capabilities were so far limited to specialist (and expensive) 3D cameras.

Backward compatibility: If you have the previous gen DS/DSi, all your games will run without any fuss on the 3DS as well.

Motion sensor and gyro sensor: As with the iPhone, the addition of tilt control adds a whole new flavour to casual gaming, and opens up the possibilities of augmented reality gaming. AR (short for augmented reality) Games, an app built into the 3DS, uses coded cards to create interactive 3D games that literally ‘pop’ out of the player’s actual world.

Massive game developer support: The 3DS has massive industry backing from the word go, with hundreds of titles including classics such as Zelda, Mario, Starfox and Animal Crossing to industry franchises such as Metal Gear Solid, Madden and Resident Evil.

Pure gaming: The 3DS is a pure gaming device and makes no compromises in that regard, no distractions like twitter apps and the like as you have on Apple’s iPod touch. And it gets better — in the time you’re reading this, Nintendo is improving its eShop app store for games, allowing digital distribution of new games and content.

…and why not!

Expensive games: When you can buy top notch iOS games for under $10, would you want to spend upwards of $40 for 3DS games?

Pathetic battery life: The claimed 4-5 hour battery life is not nearly enough for any halfway respectable journey.

Clunky design: This looks like something straight out of the ’80s. Even the ageing PSP looks light years ahead in terms of design.

Crappy camera: 3D photos aside, the 3DS takes photos at 640 x 480 pixels. Nintendo, 2011 is calling you to leave the ’90s behind!

Region locks: Depends on where you pick your 3DS, it will be region locked and will not play games from other countries.

Health concerns: A sword hangs over the 3DS about its potential risk to users, particularly young ones, especially since some folks report dizziness and eye strain after lengthy sessions.

• Rating: 7/10
• Price: $249.99 lURL: http://bit.ly/k65Ixw

One for the road

If you’ve owned any major smartphone in the past two years, chances are you’d have seen the Asphalt series of car racing games. Now on the 3DS, Asphalt 3D is one of the titles available with the 3DS launch, and after having played it over extended sessions, it gives you a sense of two things. One, how unremarkable the game is, and second, how impressive the 3D on this baby can be. All in all, a light and casual arcade racer that serves to just about show off the raw capabilities of the device.

• URL: http://bit.ly/jmqxcT http://bit.ly/jmqxcT

Smart drive

There are portable drives, and then there’s the Seagate GoFlex Slim. At 9mm thickness, it’s slimmer than most smartphones, and slips easily into the tightest of laptop (or pant) pockets. Thanks to its anodised aluminium enclosure, it feels much more durable and premium than the typical plastic-encased hard drives sold in stores. That said, this one is no slouch, packing in a faster 7,200 revolutions per minute (rpm) hard drive, which transfers at speeds up to 40MB per second when attached to a USB 3.0 system. Not bad for a drive that’s thinner than a pencil!

• Price: Rs 4,500 for the base 320 GB model
• URL: http://bit.ly/llj7el http://bit.ly/llj7el

Snappy cam

Micro Four Thirds cameras — compact cameras that allow you the versatility of interchangeable lens — are quite the rage these days, and the latest comes in the form of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3. The G3 packs in a 16 megapixel sensor, support for 1080p full HD video recording with stereo audio, 4fps burst shooting at full resolution, and an articulating, 3-in touchscreen that lets you touch the display to focus on your subject, and slide your finger to tweak exposure, white balance, and depth of field settings. Neat!

• Price: $700
• URL: http://bit.ly/ltjAmY

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