Nintendo Australia has announced that the Nintendo DSi – an upgrade to the Nintendo DS handheld console – will hit shelves in Australia and New Zealand on 2 April 2009 – days before it is on sale in Europe and the USA.

Keep a photo diary via your Nintendo DSi Camera; store and play music with Nintendo DSi Sound; or why not browse the web on your Nintendo DSi via the Nintendo DSi Shop! New features include larger LCD screens, SD memory card slot, improved speakers and a slimmer unit.

Take photos with your Nintendo DSi Camera and manipulate and play with the images – real-time interactive imaging software makes the photo taking experience different from that offered by any other portable device. With 11 different types of lenses to choose from, edit, morph and distort your photos. You can even use the merge lens to blend two faces together! Watch slideshows of your photos, store your photos on your Nintendo DSi and exchange photos with other Nintendo DSi users.

Store and play music with Nintendo DSi Sound. You can also play with any music that you have on an SD memory card – make your favourite songs play faster! Learning a foreign language? Slow down the playback of someone speaking in that language so it’s easier for you to learn! You can also record sounds using the microphone, and edit them to create new sounds.

Get your Nintendo DSi online via the Nintendo DSi Browser which will be available as a free download at launch. You can then purchase Nintendo DSi software via the Nintendo DSi Shop. By purchasing a Nintendo Points Card – formerly a Wii Points Card – you can then use your points to download software – Nintendo DSiWare – in the Nintendo DSi Shop. Nintendo DSiWare will be available in four different price categories: free, 200 points, 500 points, and 800 or more points.

Nintendo DSiWare will not only be games you can download, but also practical applications. Nintendo will launch a variety of applications, giving you the option to download the applications that work for you. This will further personalise and enhance the functionality of your Nintendo DSi.

The new features also include the dual LCD screens being 17 per cent larger than those on the Nintendo DS and PictoChat is now available in colour as you can choose between a black or rainbow pen!

Nintendo DS software is compatible with Nintendo DSi, except for software that requires the Game Boy Advance cartridge slot, as this has been removed resulting in a slimmer Nintendo DSi.

Price and availability

Available in matte black or matte white, inclusive of built in memory, Wi-Fi functionality, calendar with memo function and touch screen, Nintendo DSi is a more portable, personalised experience.

The Nintendo DSi will have an Australian RRP of $299.95 – so it’s $100 more than the old DS.

So, what’s it like?

UPDATE: It’s been 24 hours since the launch of the DSi. After the launch I had the chance to have a play with it. The good news is, Nintendo have not ‘mucked up’ the brand – if you liked the DS, you’ll like the DSi. But at $100 more, will current DS owners feel the need to upgrade, in order to get a quite similar device with Wi-Fi, web browser, music player, etc? And at this price, and with this feature set, the DSi is firmly positioning itself to take Apple’s casual gaming success stories, the iPhone 3G and the iPod Touch.

The other great unknown is the DSi store – at the time of writing there is absolutely no detail on exactly what apps will be on sale on the launch date of April 2. Nintendo representatives said DSi store details are still being discussed, and there should be news on this in the next couple of weeks.