That Nintendo announced the 3DS was not a surprise -- that they had a couple-dozen of these things to try out, that was. We elbowed our way to the front of the line to try one out, and the effect is actually not bad. It's not great, but the 3.5-inch screen on top certainly gives a firm illusion of depth without resorting to glasses -- or eye crossing. The feel is definitely reminiscent of those 3D cereal box prints, and as soon as you turn the device from left to right to try to look around anything the effect is immediately lost. You need to stare at the screen for a moment for your eyes to adjust and then not move around too much. If you do you'll need to adjust again. But, stay reasonably still and it's a compelling effect.
The new analog slider on the left feels a lot like the PSP's analog nub, but larger and without the texture. It's a bit easier on the fingers, and comfortable. Overall the device feels just like a current DS or DSi, though we couldn't get a good feel for the weight thanks to a bulky tether attached on one end to the device, and on the other end to the row of ladies who were surely told to not let the gadgets out of their hands or face certain doom. The only thing we could do here is rotate along a still frame -- Pikmin in a field, for example -- and play with the 3D slider. It is a pretty convincing effect, but it's hard to tell at this point if it's at all compelling -- it wasn't anything more than novelty in this demo, and we still don't know how it stands up to fast-moving footage. Actual games were promised to us for the show floor, so we'll hit that up later today. We snagged a few pics before getting elbowed out of the way, so check 'em out!