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Sign me up for an AARP card and get me a cane.

I’m a fogey. I must be if I love the huge screen on the new Nintendo DSi XL.

The XL is the latest version of Nintendo’s ultra-popular hand-held gaming system. It’s basically a supersized version of the DSi, which debuted about a year ago. The technical specs are pretty much the same — same electronic innards, stylus, controls and dual cameras. At $189.99, it costs about $20 more.

Is the big screen worth the extra bucks? The screen covers nearly twice the area of the old DS Lite. That means no more squinting to see the enemy I’m trying to stomp. Mario, Wario and Ezio all look so much bigger and better.

I played several games back-to-back on both systems to compare and — of course — always preferred the visuals on the larger screen. I also found that responding to bigger images improved my reaction time and permitted more precision in drawing-related tasks.

I was also much more impressed with the games and activities that used the built-in cameras — you could clearly see the bags under my eyes after a rough day at work.

In addition to the bigger screen, the system also comes with a bigger stylus and more holes for the speaker, which helps with the sound.

The bigger-is-better idea is great for me because I generally haul the gizmo around in a briefcase or computer bag. I’ll never notice a few more inches or ounces.

My wife — who’s become a DS addict over the past year — also loves the big screen. However, she quickly noticed the drawbacks. It’s too big and heavy to conveniently fit in her purse. The additional weight also makes it less comfortable to hold for long periods of time. Her answer to this problem: Get two — an XL for use at home and a regular-size unit for the road.

The system also comes with a Web browser, “Brain Age Express: Math,” and “Brain Age Express: Arts & Letters” already loaded. For those who are keeping a tally, these alone make the system worth the $20 extra.

But the XL won’t be the final word on DS technology. Nintendo recently announced a “3DS,” which will feature a 3-D display that won’t require special glasses. However, details are scarce at this point.

So, get your hands off my XL, you young whippersnapper.


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