The Nintendo 3DS: we start getting some answers

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Last week at E3 the gaming press got their first hands-on time with the Nintendo 3DS and reports were generally favorable. But some very obvious questions (when, how much, and what’s inside?) remained unanswered. Now some light has been shed on those questions.

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As for when, Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Amie, in an interview with Industry Gamers, confirmed that the 3DS will be available in all major markets by March 2011. We’ve heard that date before, but some had speculated that was a date for the Japan market. (Nintendo usually releases hardware in Japan first and then moves into North America and Europe a number of months later.)

As for price, there’s no official word, but we can piece together some data. VentureBeat interviewed Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata and on the topic of pricing the hardware, Iwata said:

I have to refrain from talking specifically about the price point. What I can confirm is that, in terms of the production costs, it will cost more than the costs for the Nintendo DS today. Having said that, we believe we will produce enough value worthy of the production cost. We do not think we have to sell the products below cost.

That puts the price comfortably at a minimum of $200 (the DSi sells for $170 currently) and Edge Online quotes a Lazard Capital Markets analyst as estimating $249-$299 as a launch price. Pretty steep for a handheld these days, in my opinion.

Now as to what’s powering the graphics in this little beast. The GPU is a DMP Pica 200 running at 400 mhz. Eurogamer has a nice overview of this chip (which I admit I’d never heard of) but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding, and the video below purports to show off what the Pica 200 is capable of. Looks pretty good, huh?

So what do you think? Do you want a 3D handheld gaming system enough to pay $300 for it?

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