The Nintendo Switch costs $299. Meanwhile, the cheapest member of the Nintendo 3DS family of systems costs $79.
Wait, "family" of systems? Stick with me here, because this is where it gets a little complicated. Nintendo offers a selection of consoles, in different shapes and sizes, all of which can play Nintendo 3DS games.
The lineup, as you'll see on store shelves this holiday season:
Nintendo 2DS ($79)— Not only is it the cheapest option, but it comes with a game pre-installed. You can buy a 2DS bundled with "Mario Kart 7," "New Super Mario Bros 2," or, starting on Black Friday this year, "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D." The drawbacks: It doesn't offer Nintendo's neat glasses-less 3D feature (if that's what you're into), you can't scan Nintendo's Amiibo figurines without a dongle, and it doesn't support buying and downloading classic Super Nintendo games like "Super Mario World," as the others do.
New Nintendo 2DS XL ($150) — The most recent addition to the line, and probably the best balance between power and price on the menu. It boasts a clamshell design, so you can fold it up and shove it in a pocket or backpack without worrying about damaging the screen. The only real trade-off is that you lose that same glasses-less 3D feature. But honestly, you won't miss it.
New Nintendo 3DS XL ($199) — The best of the best, the tip of the top. It has all the same specs as the 2DS XL, but also has that 3D feature. It's not strictly necessary, but the 3DS XL is for those who don't want to limit their options.
Nintendo surprised everyone when the company announced the 2DS back in August. The newly revealed handheld was somewhat shocking at first — it dropped 3D, the 3DS’ trademark feature, an is the first non-folding Nintendo portable since the failed Gameboy Micro — but after thinking it over for the past few months we are considerably less shocked by Nintendo’s decision. The 2DS is available today for a very reasonable $130 and has already garnered a number of rather good review scores.
At first glance the 2DS looks like budget version of the 3DS, but this makes until you also take into account that Nintendo is aiming this device squarely at the 7 and under age range. The non-folding design is said to be more rugged than the hinged 3DS and 3DS XL, and the dropped 3D feature is not a factor as it was never recommended for children in the first place. Finally, the $130 price tag puts the 2DS well below the starting price for popular, but less kid-friendly options, like the iPad mini and iPod touch.
As Geek’s Russell Holly put it:
It may look like an awkward cousin, but the 2DS actually addresses some important use cases. I turned 3D off permanently on my son’s 3DS, and he almost always uses it fully extended. I’ve also heard several parents choose not to buy a 3DS for their very young kids because they were concerned about the hinge and how it snapped shut.
It’s time to put Nintendo handheld against Nintendo handheld. In this grudge match we’ll drop the PS Vita and iDevices altogether, and put the 2DS versus the 3DS versus the 3DS XL.
The 2DS is by far the cheapest of the three handhelds at $129.99. By comparison you can pick up a 3DS for $169.99 and a 3DS XL for $199.99. That 2DS’ price must contain a substantive profit margin for Nintendo, but is still low enough to entice a purchase for younger kids.
A 2DS and a couple of games is also going to come in at around the same price as a PS Vita ($199), which is significant especially now Sony has dropped the price of the Vita to match that of a 3DS XL. That noted, Nintendo’s games are generally regarded as being more kid-friendly and franchise like Super Mario and Pokemon resonate with most children more so than ones like Uncharted. Games for the two systems are about the same price.
Dimensions & weight
Even though Nintendo has removed the hinge from the 2DS, it’s not the lightest of the three handhelds. The 3DS weighs in at 235 grams, the 3DS XL is 336 grams, while the 2DS sits in the middle at 260 grams. It’s unclear why this is the case. The weight may have been added in the process of making the 2DS as indestructible as possible, preparing it to be in the hands of young children.
The dimensions of the 2DS confirm it’s about as thick as the 3DS models, but shorter and slightly wider than the 3DS:
- 2DS: 127 x 144 x 20.3mm
- 3DS: 74 x 134 x 21mm (closed), roughly 148mm tall when open
- XL: 93 x 156 x 22mm (closed), roughly 186mm tall when open
The 2DS, by default, becomes the largest of the three to carry around simply because you can’t fold it in half. That also means no carry case reuse and more accessory sales for Nintendo.
You’ll be glad to hear that although this is the cheapest of Nintendo’s handheld units, the company isn’t skimping on display size. The 2DS matches the 3DS in that regard with an upper screen that is 3.53-inches and a lower touchscreen of 3.02-inches. The best experience is still on the relatively massive 3DS XL screens, but then you want to be playing on that while your kids are focused on the 2DS.
The jury is still out on whether the 2DS actually has a single or two screens inside. It has been suggested it’s just a single display unit to save on costs and Nintendo has hidden the rest behind the casing. As soon as iFixit manages to get their hands on one we’ll know for sure.
Both the 3DS and 3DS XL shipped with an SD card thrown in for free. For the 3DS it’s a 2GB card where as the 3DS XL includes a 4GB card. Nintendo has decided to match that for the 2DS and include a 4GB card, which I think points more to them wanting digital purchases happening rather than generosity.
The thing to focus on here is there’s going to be plenty of storage out the box so there’s no need to purchase another, larger card for a while at least.
Next page: Battery life, audio, and our verdict…