Review: New Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo have a history of revising handheld hardware during the life of the console, the did it when the DS became the DSi, and to a lesser extent when the Gameboy became the Gameboy Advance (you could argue that’s a whole new console and I suppose I wouldn’t argue too much). Now they’ve done it again with the New 3DS though and it’s more than a bit interesting.

changeable backplates!

On the face of it, the New 3DS isn’t enormously different from the old 3DS. It’s a smidge larger all round and physically at least, the introduction of a second analogue controller (on the right) is about the only difference that’s noticeable, aside from the candy coloured buttons that come right off a SNES controller from the early 90’s.

Once the slightly complicated transfer from my existing 3DS XL was done (complicated because they have different sized SD cards, so moving stuff over wasn’t easy), it was time to fire up the thing properly. One of the first things I noticed was how much better the viewing angle on the 3D was. On the old 3DS the effect was good but you had to have the viewing angle right and the optimum window wasn’t enormous. With the New 3DS there is a much wider tolerance, which makes 3D gaming much easier. I thought the games were loading a bit quicker from cartridge too but wasn’t convinced. A quick search on the internet showed I wasn’t making stuff up- the New 3DS has a better processor in it that makes it quicker to load games and eventually will lead to more impressive games as the extra power is specifically targeted.

Although the device Nintendo kindly sent was white, as you can see from the photo, the back plates are inter changeable and I’ve put a set of Yoshi plates on. This does require a small Philips head screwdriver to take the main plate off (the one attached to the screen back just clips on) but you need to take this plate off to insert a micro SD card anyway.

On top of all the changes you can see, the new 3DS also has NFC (near field communication), so you can use Amiibo much like you can with your Wii U. This is one element I’ve not tried as the kids seem to be obsessed with their Amiibo and prising them out of the kids kung fu grip is tricky to say the least.

To give you an idea of what the device looks and feels like, I’ve done a video which you can view here:

The New 3DS makes a notable number of improvements on what was already a great handheld machine from Nintendo. It goes on sale in the UK on 13 February for £139.99. It’s compatible with all your 3DS games and is a must for anyone considering getting a handheld.

Bionicle is back

I get all sorts of stuff dropping into my inbox; half of it doesn’t get past the message header and half of the stuff that does won’t get a reply. It’s not that I’m rude or anything but I simply don’t have the time.

However when I spotted an email saying that LEGO were relaunching Bionicle, I couldn’t help but get excited:

You can find out more on the dedicated mini site for LEGO Bionicle.

Review: Kärcher Wheel Wash Brush & Karcher Foam Jet Nozzle

Back in May I reviewed the Karcher K4 compact pressure washer and we found it pretty good at cleaning plastic kids furniture and the patio. For the last few weeks we’ve been waiting for that rare winter event: a dry day with temperatures above freezing- to test out a couple of car cleaning accessories. Karcher are good at giving their accessories very descriptive names, so there are no prizes for guessing what the Foam Jet Nozzle or the Wheel Wash Brush actually do.

Rather than go into a flurry of words, I’ll let you watch a brief video I’ve made of the Foam Jet Nozzle in action:

It does a good job of soaping the car as you can see. We used Turtle Wax car shampoo and it seemed to get the worst of the grim off the car. The wheel wash brush does exactly what it says on the tin; it was really good at cleaning the alloys on my Ford Focus. Unlike a lot of the brushes you can get as hose attachments, the bristles pretty much go around all 360 degrees, making it much easier to clean in the gaps between the spokes.

I don’t have video of the brush in use because scrubbing my alloys spotless while I video it is beyond the call out duty for wifey.

Both these accessories retail for £24.99 and can be found for less on popular online retailers if you hunt around. The Foam Jet Nozzle is particularly useful for car cleaning as it saves you all the effort of having to soap your car before firing the pressure washer up to clean it off.

Review: Karcher Window Vac Extension Pole

You might have seen my review of the Karcher Window Vac back in June. Suffice to say, if you only buy one device for vacuuming moisture off your windows, it should be the Karcher Window Vac. The extension pole is an extension (ho ho) to this concept. It basically allows you do do your upstair windows without having to get a set of long ladders. Even if you live in a bungalow, it’s useful for conservatories or Velux style windows.

The name, Karcher Window Vac Extension Pole, is a little bit of a misnomer though. For starters you actually get two poles, one for affixing the window vac to, and the other to attach the flannel headed mop thing that lurks at the bottom of the box to. With the latter you dip it in the soapy water and soap the windows, the former lets you vacuum the water off, leaving the surface smear free.

The Window Vac clips in very securely to the fitting on the end of the pole, so there’s precious little risk of your £80 Window Vac falling out.

When the telescopic pole is fully extended it’s around two metres long (I say around since the Window Vac adds an extra few cm’s to the length). This means you can clean the outside windows, first with the cloth pole, and then vacuum the moisture off with the Window Vac on an extension pole). Obviously when you’re waving a pole around with something fairly heavy attached to the end, it’s a little unwieldy but even when I was cleaning the outside of the bathroom window, I never felt it wasn’t under control. I would have needed a chair or a small stepladder if I’d been any shorter mind you. That’s still a lot easier than getting out a set of long ladders, presuming you actually have them in the first place. I do but I’m not brilliant with heights anyway.

The Window Vac is on special offer at a few places at the moment for under £50, and the pole extension kit has an RRP of £29.99. Together they make a pretty good investment for cleaning your own windows, a good investment that becomes more compelling if you have a conservatory that needs regular cleaning.

Retailing at £19.99, you can also pick up the Window Vac Holster, which saves putting the window vac down when you’re soaping your windows.

It’s a handy accessory in that if I put anything down, screwdriver upwards in terms of size, I’ll never find it again but not essential.