Nintendo has ended months of speculation as to when its much anticipated 3D handheld, the Nintendo 3DS, would be launched by announcing an official live date of 26 February 2011.

The bad news is that the date given is for the Japanese launch only. The good news is that gamers in Europe and the States won't have to wait too much longer after this - a March shipping date is likely.

The price? 25,000 yen, which is about £189 - so expect something around the £200 mark in the UK. It will be available at launch in either aqua blue or black.

A few more details of the console have also surfaced following the announcement, and the launch of an official 3DS website, including the ability to auto create a Mii using the front facing camera, which can then be edited using the Mii Studio software.

There's also a link up function whereby you can collect Miis from other 3DSes that automatically hook up with your console when they're in your vicinity.

There were also details on AR gaming on the 3DS, a book app, and note taking and diary apps as well.

The Japanese gaming giant also announced that the 3DS will include a virtual Game Boy console and two games were demoed - Super Mario Land and Link's Awakening DX.

Finally, an "experimental basis" partnership with Fuji TV was launched whereby Japanese 3DS users would be able to stream 3D videos. Fuji TV isn't available in the UK or the States, but it could mean a similar tie-up might be on the cards with an alternative broadcaster.

All exciting stuff then, just a shame Nintendo couldn't get it out in time for Christmas.