What you'll need
- Nintendo 3DS
- Wireless router and access to broadband internet OR Nintendo WiFi USB dongle OR other compatible WiFi dongle, that plugs into your PC and effectively lets you turn your PC into a giant wireless router.
Connecting to the internet
When turn your 3DS on for the first time, at the end of the initial setup, your 3DS will prompt you to configure your network settings. Whether you do it there and then or not, it's always possible to reconfigure it at any time by scrolling across to the System Settings Screen on the main menu, and choosing Internet Settings. The menu you'll be presented with are practically identical, too, with a handy little 3DS-screen-man there to guide you through if you get stuck.
To get started, touch the bit that says "Connection Settings", and you'll be presented with a screen that looks somewhat similar to the DS's network connection screen, as pictured below. All you need to do is touch New Connection, and we'll get stuck into the tricky(er) bits!
Or, at least we would, if Nintendo didn't insist on trying to make things so much easier for us. As soon as you go to set up a new connection, the little 3DS screen man will invade your screen, and ask you if you'd rather proceed with the rather intimidating "Manual Setup", or choose a "Tutorial". It's a little bit strange this one, as if you choose tutorial, all the little guy'll do is bombard you with questions about your setup at home, to be sure you can even use the 3DS online in the first place. Asking you such brain benders as "Do you have an access point at home you can use to connect to the internet?", if you meet the required bits at the start of this tutorial, you'll most likely just press "Yes" to everything anyway. While it sounds the more daunting of the two, you're really better off choosing Manual Setup, and saving yourself the ear bending.
From here, you'll be given a choice of types of access point to choose from, deciding whether you want to use AOSS, or "AirStation One-Touch Secure System" - a kind of one touch setup system, where you push a button on the front of your router, and the 3DS does all the work; a logo that's so blurry and distorted, it's actually hard to read, but we believe says Wi-Fi Protected Setup, which is a similar style of thing to AOSS, and requires you to either push a button, and let the 3DS handle it for you, or input a PIN that's displayed either on a sticker, or a screen on your router; or if you'd rather do things the manual, old fashioned way, you can always choose to go the whole hog manually by pressing "Search for Access Point". We chose the last option, and if you know the WEP/WPA key of your router, you may want to do the same.
When you do this, you'll be presented with a list of access points (wireless routers, basically) within the range of the 3DS. All you need to do is touch the one you want, and move onto the next step...
...Which will be to input your security key. This will be a string of numbers and letters that usually make no sense to the human eye, but act as a password for your router - your router will either have automatically generated one when you set it up, or you'll have created one yourself. Unlike the DS before it, the 3DS supports practically every type of wireless encryption under the sun, with full support for WEP, WPA-PSK (TKIP), WPA2-PSK (TKIP), WPA-PSK (AES) and WPA2-PSK (AES). With any luck, your wireless security key will be one of these - luckily, you don't have to choose which one, as all you have to do is stick it in.
After that, the console will ask you to save your settings, and once you've passed a quick connection test, you'll be done! If it fails, the chances are you'll have done something not quite right during the setup - we'd start by re-entering our wireless key, as the 3DS screen can be a tad fiddly for inputting a lengthy, nonsensical code - and if that fails, resetting our router.
With any luck, though, your 3DS will now be fully configured, and ready to play online! Enjoy - and watch out for your notification LED blinking blue - that means you've received a message via SpotPass, and you'll undoubtedly have something cool!