We got our first hands on Nintendo's 3D handheld. It's awesome.
At their annual E3 press conference, Nintendo pulled back the curtain on their next handheld, Nintendo 3DS. We already knew that the next generation DS would have some sort of 3D screen that did not require the use of glasses, but beyond that the specifics of the system were unknown.
Following their press conference, Nintendo offered attendees the opportunity to get a brief hands-on experience with the new system. The demo was brief, about a minute total, and was primarily designed to show off the 3D effect. The demo showed a series of still images: a Bowser trophy from Brawl, Olimar in the forest accompanied by Pikmin, a scene from New Super Mario Bros., Samus, Mario riding Yoshi from Galaxy 2's cover, and a posed Link from Twilight Princess.
When the 3D Depth Slider was set to maximum the effect was impressive, giving a clear sense of depth that mimicked what you would expect to see in a 3D theater. As the slider was dialed back the image slowly became more and more flat. The Slide Pad allowed the camera to pivot around, offering different views of the 3D image. I'm greatly interested in seeing video in motion, which Nintendo promises at their booth later today.
The actual form factor of the unit is similar to that of a DS Lite in both size and weight, but of course the top screen is wide (although it is about the same height), and both screens were very bright. The D-Pad and face buttons are lifted from the current DS, so they feel the same. The D-Pad's position beneath the Slide Pad seems like a challenge, but it was very easy to move between them.
It's hard to have accurate impressions of their newest handheld with such a limited demonstration, but later today we should have more comprehensive hands-on experiences, so keep checking back throughout the day.