Nintendo announces jumbo 3DS with double the screen size, longer-life battery

The company's new "3DS LL" will go on sale next month in Japan for about US$240

Nintendo will launch a new, jumbo-sized version of its 3DS handheld from next month, with a screen nearly twice the size of the current model, the Japanese company said Friday.

The main screen of the "3DS LL" will be 1.9 times larger than the current version, and a bigger battery will allow up 6.5 hours of playing time when using 3DS games, versus 5 hours on the standard DS. The device also comes with a 4GB SD memory card, double the capacity of the one included currently.

The resolution will stay the same on the new device, meaning images may appear less crisp, but graphics from older games will not be distorted. Nintendo said it is the largest screen they have ever built into a handheld device.

The body of the 3DS LL is larger to accommodate the bigger screen, making it nearly the size of some tablets, which are increasingly a competitor to dedicated game devices. When opened up so both screens are flat, the newer version is 173 millimeters tall and 155mm wide, a more rectangular shape than the 138mm by 135mm original, and only slightly shorter than the Galaxy Tab 7 tablet from Samsung. Nintendo's newest creation comes in red, silver and white.

The new model will go on sale in Japan from July 28, for ¥18,900 (US$235).

In Europe, where it will be known as the 3DS XL, it will launch on the same day, although no price has been set yet. In North America it will go on sale from Aug. 19 for US$199.99. In Japan, the price for the current 3DS is ¥15,000, meaning the newer one will cost about 25 percent more.

The power adapter is not included, though the 3DS adapter can be used.

Nintendo, which traditionally concentrates on only a few pieces of hardware at a time, is introducing the new device as it gears up for the launch of its new home console, the Wii U. The successor to the Wii, which introduced motion-controlled gaming to the masses, is set to go on sale before the holiday season this year, and features a tablet-like controller complete with a touch screen and the ability to play games without using a separate TV or monitor.

The Kyoto-based game maker is on the offensive after booking its first fiscal loss in the annual period that ended in March, its first since 1981 when it began reporting group results. The 3DS is the successor to Nintendo's wildly successful DS, one of the most popular game consoles of all time.

The 3DS stumbled badly after launch but Nintendo revived sales with a flurry of game launches and publicity, and has set a sales target of 18.5 million units for the current fiscal year, well above the 13.53 million it sold in the year-earlier period. The newer, larger 3DS LL is part of the planned sales boost.

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