Just when my 7-year old thought Santa had brought him the gift to end all gifts in the form of a Nintendo DSi (and don't let anyone make the mistake of calling it a Gameboy), Nintendo announced that it's bringing the DSi XL to the States. I'm hoping no one tells him about the 93% bigger screen. Or the fact that it has a built-in e-reader application.
I've been talking quite a bit recently about what 1:1 computing really means and why it doesn't have to mean laptops all around. It doesn't necessarily have to mean DSi XL's all around either and, in fact, I don't think that a software ecosystem would emerge around the platform to make it really viable for 1:1. However, the growing ubiquity of e-reading devices and inexpensive, touch-enabled portables (the DSi XL will only be $190 and will be available next month) makes me hopeful that cheaper, lighter devices that really can support education are just around the corner.
According to BusinessWeek,
The "Classic Books" title will be released on June 14 and will cost $19.99, Nintendo said. The DSi XL screen is almost double the size of other DS models and has wider viewing angles so it's easier to watch a person play.
"It's not really about trying to take on the e-book market," [Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America executive vice president of sales and marketing] said in an interview. "It's just one more way to enjoy your device."
And that's really the key. What sorts of devices will students have and want to use on a regular basis that can also be leveraged in education? The DSi XL, for example, has a relatively good mobile browser (based on Opera), WiFi, e-reader capability, a highly readable screen in a variety of conditions, an existing App store for distribution of software, AAC audio player capabilities, and a camera, all of which could lend themselves to educational use.
Again, I don't think that the XL is panacea for our low-budget 1:1 needs. It is, however, a harbinger of very good things to come that can benefit this space quite directly.