The Nintendo DS, or NDS for short, is an amazing little handheld entertainment machine from Nintendo. Its true capacity has been made obvious by third-party products like the CycloDS Evolution. This in itself, is somewhat sad. Sad? Why? Well, it shows a little bit how marketing can get in the way of technology. With a product like the CycloDS Evolution, the NDS becomes more of a multimedia entertainment system than a pure handheld gaming machine.
The CycloDS Evolution uses a MicroSD card for storage, which at present means you can squeeze a good 8GB of stuff in it. “Stuff” can be a number of things, including media files like MP3/Ogg (audio) and DPG (a popular movie format for the DS). You can also run homebrew applications; which include games, weather and maps, and more. There are a number of “browser shells” available such as Moonshell and DSOrganize.
Firmware upgrades for the CycloDS Evolution are installed in a very simple manner; you drop the upgrade file in the root folder of the MicroSD card and then turn on the NDS. Be careful when executing this procedure, however, as it can sometimes corrupt the folder structure of your memory card (a backup to your computer is a good idea).
There are a number of contenders to the “Best add-on card” for the NDS; the CycloDS Evolution isn’t the only one. But the Cyclo is a well working solution, and the fact that it utilizes an external memory card makes it easier to extend and maintain (IMHO). This post is not an expert’s opinion on add-on cards for the DS, it comes down to a matter of personal taste and opinion.
What these add-on cards make blatantly obvious is that you can squeeze a lot more out of the NDS; and I suspect the next generation handheld from Nintendo will feature some of these add-ons, like an MP3-player, a built-in web browser, movie player, and so on. If you look around the net, you will find all kinds of homebrew applications, including Linux for the DS (!), an e-mail application, etc.
The CycloDS Evolution is a worry-free, care-free, and fairly inexpensive enhancement for the NDS that will open new doors.