Great system! Durable and fun, but watch the battery on long trips.
I bought the 3DS because I've played games on handheld Nintendo systems since my childhood when I started with a Gameboy Color and have always enjoyed them. I would qualify however that in my gameplay I tend to enjoy the games released on these Nintendo systems, such as Pokemon and Fire Emblem. Nintendo has not been known to branch out to third parties to make games for their systems, so if you don't like the 'classic' Nintendo games you may have a hard time finding games that you enjoy for this system.
This system has an intuitive design, and I enjoy being able to switch freely between the d-pad and the circle pad. The slider to adjust the depth of the 3D is very nice - I've found that I can view some scenes better at a lower depth while I can view others just fine with the 3D all the way up. The addition of the Home button was also a nice touch. The system is also really tough. My aqua system has been dropped, accidentally thrown, sat on, etc and the only wear it shows are some bumps on the corners and light scratches on the case. Classic Nintendo hardiness at its finest.
On the downside, I'm not a fan of the new design of the Start and Select buttons. They're just too far over to be in easy reach of my thumb. While this is somewhat rectified by the fact that I don't use them nearly as much with DS and later games as I did with GBA games it is still very annoying at the times when I do use said buttons. They're also rather awkward to press - I always feel like I'm in danger of splitting the system in half when I go to press the home button.
The 3D itself is nice. It can take a bit of getting used to at first, and I find it hard to play in 3D for extended periods, but it is a very nice feature. One thing I've noticed is that in scenes with dark backgrounds and light subject matter there tends to be a bit of a double image. This may simply be my eyes, but I've tilted the screen every which way and even tried taking my contacts out to see if that was the issue and nothing fixed it. This isn't too big of a deal, it can just be annoying during darker scenes.
Battery life, especially when using 3D and wireless together, can be an issue. I haven't had too many problems as I am seldom far from an outlet but it can be bothersome when taking the system on long trips. Apparently the battery life issue is fixed on the XL model, but I don't have that model so I don't know for certain.
I've personally had a lot of fun with the wireless features, especially Streetpass. Unfortunately you still need Friend Codes to connect with friends over the internet, but I think it's really cool to walk around campus with my DS in my bag and come home at night to find a bunch of different Miis waiting for me. Most games for the 3DS also share data with others that have the same game. For example, in Fire Emblem: Awakening if you play the game and pass someone that has also played the game you can meet and recruit their avatar. Fun!
As for how the 3DS compares to other products, it's definitely a step up from the DSi. I can't honestly compare it to the Vita or other such handhelds because I haven't used those systems, but I will say that I love the 3DS and would highly recommend it.Read full review