As I sit in the library of the most prestigious university in Taiwan, I find the glances and strange looks my direction as I furiously tap away on my Nintendo DS on top of a stack of academic articles.

“Surely people don’t come to this library to.. play! This is an institute of learniture, nor some silly 網咖!”

But it’s true—I’ve found a way to use it while studying out and about and at home, too! I finally dug up a purchase I made in Taiwan way back in 2006—proving that I have some form of foresight, rather than just an insatiable buyer’s itch!

dsstudy2

(Pictures taken with the lousy camera on my cell phone; much apologies!)

Yes it’s the “Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten” (for easier searching at US suppliers) or “漢字そのままDS楽引辞典” for the Nintendo DS!

It utilizes the DS’s touch screen for kanji/kana handwriting input (but there are also options to select the in-“game” keyboard. Speaking of games, there’s a hidden Game and Watch game inside!). It also has audio support as well. While mostly for the English section, when you type kana, it will also speak out each syllable for you in a pleasant female voice.

It also provides two dictionaries: Japanese to English (and vice-versa) and Japanese to Japanese. Having both really helps for beginners, but also provides the monolingual dictionary for those that are really ready to go immersed. And it’s easy to look up words from the monolingual definitions, which display on the top screen, allowing you to write out unknown characters below. The screens on the top are completely scrollable, so in the situation above, once you find the definition for the unknown character, you just scroll up to the original entry and continue along!

Being on the DS, it also has some cute definitions like Mario and whatnot, but overall it’s a pretty solid “game”. There’s also some for fun stuff like a calculator, world clocks (the display is pretty neat looking), a calendar, quizzes (such as this beast: giving the katakana names of countries but having to answer using the correct Kanji for the country names. Intense!), and a bunch of other random stuff.

I think it is a great investment for someone who loves taking their DS out with them, wants to get a good electronic dictionary but without putting down the extra cash for another device.