Opinion - In the past week, new services for both the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP have pumped up their online presence, making it a perfect time to take a second look at the two handhelds' Wi-Fi features. Quite simply, when it comes to additional Web-based services, Sony is the frontrunner.
The DS is the first major online platform for Nintendo, and despite its level of inexperience, Nintendo delivers online gaming very well. It's probably the most robust we've ever seen for a handheld. However, when it comes to other online services, Nintendo falls flat on its face.
The DS browser software hit U.S. stores today, after months of being available in Europe and Japan. I've spent some hands-on time with the new browser, and I'm pleased with how well it works. It's so much more convenient than the PSP. At least that's how I felt until I started playing another DS game and then wanted to go back to browsing the 'Net. I had to switch cartridges just to do something that should have been pre-installed on the system.
Surfing the Web on my PSP, on the other hand, feels more like using a keyboard that's missing half the keys. It just takes too long to enter text, but at least I can open up a browser no matter what disc I have in the media bay.
Moving on to other DS online features...wait. There aren't any. The DS doesn't allow you to download wallpapers, media files, or even game updates the way the PSP does. The PSP has a great system for downloading compatible files to an inserted Memory Stick.
I also really like using the PSP's new Wi-Fi remote play feature. I can access my PS3's content from anywhere in the world, including videos and music that I downloaded from the PS3 online store. It's a great way to conserve space on my Memory Stick by just putting music and video files on my PS3 with its massive hard drive.
The DS can't even download firmware updates from the Internet, for crying out loud. It's such a shame, too, because it has what is quite possibly the most user-friendly set-up process for tapping into a wireless network. While its online gaming platform is adequate, it just fails to take the technology any further, and the hassle it takes to use the DS browser really makes it pointless to the average gamer.
In other words, the new DS browser doesn't really do much to bring out the system's online features, while the PSP's latest update cements it as being a fantastic Wi-Fi device.