3DS handheld makes third dimension portable

Nintendo's DS handheld is one of the most popular gaming consoles of all time. Over 125 million examples (PDF) of the dual-screen Game Boy successor have been sold since the DS debuted in 2005, making the device considerably more popular than Sony's portable PlayStations. Now there's a new one, and like seemingly everything else these days, it's infused with 3D trickery.

Earlier today at the E3 conference in Los Angeles, Nintendo unveiled its latest 3DS handheld. The clamshell system looks very much like the original DS and still features two screens.The lower screen offers touch functionality and presents images in two dimensions, while the upper screen is a 3D unit that doesn't require dorky glasses. The 3D screen even has an adjustable depth slider that allows users to tweak the illusion of depth based on their distance from the device.

Complementing the 3D screen is a pair of cameras that can capture 3D images. Wi-Fi support is included, as well, and Nintendo has added a "slide pad" that looks to provide an analog input alternative to the standard directional pad. A gyroscope and motion sensor are also buried inside the device to give game developers even more input options.

It didn't reveal and official launch date or pricing for the 3DS, but Nintendo did rattle off a long list of titles in development for the device, including versions of Mario Kart, Madden, Resident Evil, Splinter Cell, and, awesomely, Contra. One would assume that Nintendo wants to cash in on the holiday season, so we could see the 3DS arrive some time this fall.

Interestingly, there's still no official word on the hardware that underpins the 3DS. Early rumors claimed that an Nvidia Tegra system-on-chip would make its way into the device. However, the latest buzz suggests the handheld's graphics hardware may come from a Japanese company.

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