Nintendo's 3DS on Sale March 27 for $250, Boasting iPhone-Like Features

Nintendo announced the pricing and release date today for the 3DS, which it hopes will rejuvenate sales as its other hardware platforms start aging.

The 3DS will be available in the U.S. on March 27 for a competitively priced $249.99. The handheld game player’s big selling point is that it offers 3-D without the need for special glasses. The device will come in Cosmo Black or Aqua Blue. Prices will vary outside the U.S.

At an event today in New York, Nintendo revealed more of the device’s capabilities, and many of them sound like features found on the iPhone and many other smartphones.

Apple’s ability to turn its MP3 players and phones into portable gaming devices has been a competitive threat to Nintendo, which with the 3DS release looks like it is willing to recognize.

For example, the new 3DS has an online store, called the eShop, where users will be able to download games. It also has three cameras and a built-in gyro, so the device can be tilted and turned to affect game play. It will also have location-based features, where users can elect to receive new content from Nintendo or other 3DS users as they travel around. The feature can connect to Wi-Fi hotspots when in sleep mode to collect this content or to function as a pedometer, which counts a user’s steps.

Additionally, users can take pictures with the camera, or listen to music and surf the Web on an Internet browser, which will come soon in a system upgrade. Users will also be able to play with one another by exchanging a simple code. About 30 games are expected to be available by June for the device.

It’s some of these more nuanced features that could make the device more competitive, but it’s the 3-D interactivity that Nintendo is really pushing, and so far consumers have not gravitated to 3-D as a reason to upgrade a TV, so it’s unclear whether it will be a draw for the 3DS.

Nintendo’s enthusiasm for 3-D also suffered a blow when it issued a warning that it is not healthy for kids under the age of 6 to view 3-D images. Nintendo says the impact from that should be minimal because the 3-D effect can be ratcheted up or down, and even turned off completely.

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