The first thing you'll notice is the metallic-like plastic casing that gives the 3DS a refined finish. When opening the console the lid snaps a completely flat position with an audible click that adds to the impression of a well-built console.
Flipping the lid reveals the rubbery analogue "circle pad," which sits by the left thumb nicely and still allows the console to close compactly.
Other buttons finding a new home are the start, select and home buttons. The power button has moved from the left to the right hand side of the touchscreen.
The 3DS also has a 3-axis gyroscope to accommodate the growing number of motion sensitive games. The number of cameras has been increased with one front-facing 0.5-megapixel camera located above the 3D display and two 0.5-megapixel (VGA) cameras on the rear.
A headphone jack is also located on the face of the unit.
The 3DS 3-inch touchscreen boasts 320 x 240 (QVGA) pixel resolution, while the upper 3.5-inch display sports 800 x 240 pixel resolution. The console divides the number of pixels between each eye to create a 3D effect. This makes the effective resolution 400 x 240 pixels - still higher than the previous DS consoles.
The 3DS interface is easy to navigate and users are now able to create characters on the console using the built-in camera. There's also an Activity Log to track how long you've spent playing the various games as well as how far you’ve travelled.
If you keep Wi-Fi enabled while out and about you'll also be able to wirelessly swap data with other 3DS users you pass while the device is in standby mode. Exchangeable data includes your avatar, the game currently residing in your game slot and games you've already played.
A recent upgrade has also brought an internet browser to the console, but it doesn't support Flash. It can, however, display 3D images on websites and users can pause games to search for some online tips before jumping back in where they left off. Page loading is slow and because the upper display isn't touch capable, you need to scroll anything you want to click down to the bottom screen.
The Nintendo 3DS is a worthy addition to Nintendo's DS line and the 3D is impressive, whether it's enough to warrant the premium price tag is debatable. I'd recommend hunting down a console in a store that will let you try one out for a while, before making a purchase.