The 2DS doesn't do anything crazy: There aren't any special gimmicks or mind-blowing features that will send current handheld owners stampeding to their wallet. It's a simple device that fills a gap in the market as other companies' handheld hardware grows more complicated, more mature, and more expensive.
At an enticing entry level price point of $130 it's a steal for the chance to play the latest and greatest of the handheld world without shilling out the premium 3DS ($170) and 3DS XL ($200) prices.
So what are you missing out on? Three dimensions. The 2DS forgoes the sometimes gimmicky, oftentimes enjoyable 3D feature in lieu of saving a few bucks. It still has two 2D screens, with the bottom being touch enabled, and the ability to play any 3DS, DS, or eShop game available.
Nintendo ditched the conveniently portable clam shell design for a slate-like surface, devoid of any hinges. It's much less portable, not being able to fit in an average-sized pocket, and leaves the dual screens exposed to the hazards of a purse or backpack, so a case will be a necessary accessory.
However, dropping the folding design does have some benefits. The unit is solid, sturdy and an ergonomic upgrade for larger hands. The previously flimsy-feeling shoulder buttons which crowded the base of the 3DS are now at the top corners of the unit. They felt much more durable and comfortable with a wider, indented design. My hands could stretch out across the unit, using all the real estate provided.
Interestingly enough, the 2DS has the same amount of cameras as its older brothers. A single front-facing camera offers the culturally relevant "selfie" shot while two rear-facing cameras allow for stereoscopic 3D pictures and videos. Of course, you won't be able to see your work in all its glory. You'll have to transfer them to a separate 3D capable device via the included 4GB SD card.
The 2DS sports a single speaker (mono) instead of the stereo speakers the 3DS has. Chances are, audiophiles aren't looking to the Nintendo handhelds as the pinnacle of sound quality, but it is a small downgrade, though stereo sound can still be achieved through headphones.
Other than the look and feel, the software is all the same as what you get on a standard 3DS—it even has a 3DS splash screen when changing menus. It's still Wi-Fi enabled (though you have to toggle it through a settings menu instead of a physical switch), still does StreetPasses, and still plays some of the best games available today.
It certainly won't set the gaming world on fire when it releases October 12, alongside the much anticipated Pokemon X and Y, but it will strike a chord with a younger, entry-level crowd and those not ready to invest in some premium handheld hardware.
This story, "Hands on with the 2DS: An entry level investment" was originally published by TechHive.