[EDIT] : Version française ici.
First word, forgive my bad english ^_^.
I have 3 different Nintendo 3DS at home. The first one was puchased at launch, the second, in july, and the last one, some days ago. This is why I noticed that Nintendo made some changes since the console launch.
This is certainly usual for a wide scale production, as some adjustments are often made with time.
But, for the 3DS, these changes can mean a lot for the gaming experience, as we will see.
First difference : 3D screen
As you can see, both devices are set on the minimal brightness level. It’s obvious that the Zelda special edition (to the right) is brighter.
But this is not the only difference.
Zelda Special edition screen is slightly more yellow. That doesn’t appear on the picture, but it’s obvious to the naked eye.
And, more surprising, it’s a lot sharper for 3D display.
I was really stunned to note that, on Rayman 3D, all the ugly crosstalk was gone on the Zelda edition 3DS when it was just horrible on the other one.
All of this make me believe that this is not just the same panel on these consoles.
Unfortunately, as the 3D panel is more yellow on the Zelda edition, there is a noticable difference in color between the bottom an the top screen. But this is not a big deal, compared to the benefits of this new screen.
Second difference : the bumpers
Oh, the infamous scratches on the top screen when you close the console to take it with you ! A true pain in the ass !
This problem too has been solved. The bumpers are slightly taller and keep the top screen contact-free with the bottom one, avoiding these marks.
Finally, on the Zelda edition, I no longer have the bad surprise to see these vertical scratches on my 3D screen when I open the console.
Third difference : Battery life
The main weakness of the 3DS is probably its poor battery life, especialy compared to its elder.
With both of my older 3DS I had trouble to reach 5 hours of gaming without WIFI and screen brightness set to 1. Now I can almost reach 6 hours with my Zelda edition under the same settings.
But why such a difference ?
I guess the answer, once again, is in the screen, probably less power hungry than the old one.
Once could argue that, with time, any battery looses its capacity. But I would answer that if this loss can reach about 1 hour in 5 monthes of regular use, the battery is pretty cheap, and i don’t believe it.
Final word :
Changes during the production of a same device model are common in high thech industry (TV, game consoles, phones …) But it’s always surprising to note how significant it can be.
Now it’s clear to me that I shouldn’t have bought this console at launch. Eight monthes later, after a huge price drop, we can think that the « new » 3DS have seen its flaws solved. Moreover, there have not been so many good games during the first monthes.
Nevertheless, I owe to my first 3DS purchased on day one the chance of having been invited to E3 2011 by Nintendo France, and this is priceless ^_^.