- GBA TV Tuner
Added July 17th 2002 - By Eric)
to say, we've all been eagerly anticipating the release
of a TV Tuner for the GBA. In fact, according to our
poll, the majority of GBA owners would rather buy a
Tuner than a Camera. Well, the wait is over, thanks
to the smart folks in the R&D department somewhere
in Asia, we have in our hands a TV Tuner for the GBA
- unofficial and unsupported by Nintendo of course,
but wonderful all the same and all ours to review.
TV Tuner Parts
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Purpose Of The GBA TV Tuner
Simply speaking, the GBA TV Tuner is an attachment
that allows your GBA to receive and decode TV signals
and to display them on the GBA's screen. In other words, with
the Tuner, your GBA is miraculously transformed into
a hand-held TV. Cool?
Features Of The GBA TV Tuner
Looking at the specifications and feature list, I
can't help but be amazed. The GBA TV Tuner is really
a marvel, and has enough or even more features than
what you would get with a regular TV. It employs a Philips
tuner module, the same type that you'd find in high
end TV cards for the PC, and as such, you can expect
pretty good quality reception - dependent of course
on the strength of the TV signals when used outdoors.
In point form, here is a simplified list of the GBA
TV Tuner's features (see here
for detailed specification):
1. Power Supply:
Runs on 4 standard Alkaline/Rechargeable
batteries or DC via supplied adapter.
2. Signal Receptors:
For outdoors, there
is an attached 68cm telescopic antenna. For indoors,
there's an 'Antenna-in' jack which accepts an RF cable
Built-in mono speaker or 'Ear-phone'
jack with independent volume control.
4. Audio/Video capabilities:
Able to output
TV transmission to standard monitors. Also accepts audio-video
input and allows GBA to serve as a monitor instead.
On-screen display to control
brightness, contrast and color as well as audio-video/monitor
selections. On-screen command list too.
Manual or automatic tuning and
scanning with the ability to store up to 99 channels.
240 X 160 (same as the GBA
screen for full screen viewing).
8. Accessories supplied:
AV adapter cable,
RF adapter cable, and screw-in ball-socket stand.
Phew! As you can see, the feature list is long, but
don't worry, the GBA TV Tuner isn't that difficult to
Using The GBA TV Tuner
tuner is designed to slot into the GBA like a regular
cartridge. You don't have to do anything else to your
GBA for it to work. Just remember to add fresh batteries
for your GBA since the Tuner does not supply the power
for the GBA's screen. As you can see from the picture
below, the GBA is secured
to the Tuner by a spring stopper which also serves as
a quick release. Once you've got it attached, you can
slot-in the batteries for the Tuner, or plug in the
supplied DC jack. Next, extend the telescopic antenna
if you're using it outdoors, or plug in the RF antenna
cable from your in-wall socket if you're using it indoors.
Tuner Front View
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The Tuner will not work if you don't slot
in a GBA cartridge. This is because the Tuner uses the
boot sequence from the cartridge to start the Tuner
Anyway, now that you're ready, turn on the GBA and you
will see the regular GBA start-up screen, followed by
a blue screen which flashes the Tuner's region information.
Immediately after that, you will be met with a screen
full of static. Once again, don't panic, as you will
now need to either automatically or manually set your
do this is simple enough, as the Tuner has an on-screen
menu list that will show you all the commands, and be
prepared, because there are many. Basically, the operation
of the Tuner entails pressing the correct button combinations
on the GBA. For example, to do a fast tune, you will
need to simultaneously press the Select, Start and Left
shoulder button. When you do this, you will be prompted
on screen if you would like to continue with the fast
tune. It takes only a short while to get used to the
menu system, so no worries there.
Depending on the number of channels you have, the
Tuner will take some time to scan and store all the
receivable channels. When that is done, you can then
sort through all the channels and choose which to store
or delete and in what order you'd like them displayed.
must admit, the picture quality is pretty sharp, thanks
to the GBA's high resolution screen. The picture below doesn't do the Tuner's reception quality justice
(in the real thing, I could even read the tiny scrolling
text at the bottom of the picture), although you should
note that I was using an in-door cable antenna which
has the best possible reception strength. When I brought
the unit outside and used the telescopic antenna, however,
the quality of the reception was dependent on the signal's
strength. So, if you're in a lousy place surrounded by
tall building and mountains, expect lousy reception.
Also, you need to be stationery, as the Tuner will only
picks up snow if you're walking around or using it while
travelling in a vehicle.
A big surprise was the rather loud sound supplied
by the tiny built-in speakers. No doubt it's only mono,
it was still good enough to hear clearly. But if you
want, you can also hook it up to an active speaker for
Seeing as how the Tuner could also be used as a monitor,
I plugged it to my PlayStation for a test. Well, it
worked, but I don't see why anyone would want to do
that, unless the TV is busted. Still, it was fun, just
to see the amazing graphics that the GBA is still incapable
off. I also tested the TV output on my computer. You
can do this if you have a capture card, and I'm glad
to report that it worked beautifully. Once again, this
feature is pointless if you already have a combination
TV/Capture card, but it's nice to see what the GBA Tuner
is capable of.
All in all, the Tuner was dead easy to use.
Pros Of The GBA TV Tuner
As I've mentioned, the GBA TV Tuner is one hell of
a gadget. It's such a fun add-on and really extends
the capabilities of your GBA. Now more than ever, it's
easy to play a game or watch TV anywhere and anytime
Tuner & GBA
It's also a well constructed piece of kit, and one
that doesn't require any kind of modification to your
GBA to use (except maybe for one which I will elaborate
later). It's designed to blend perfectly with the GBA
and for just $65 bucks, is well endowed with all the
bells and whistles of a regular TV. Just look at the
feature list and you'll understand why.
Cons Of The GBA TV Tuner
Sadly, the only major fault that I could find with
the Tuner actually isn't its fault at all. You see,
the Tuner is only as good as the GBA's screen, which
as everyone knows, is sadly inadequate under certain
lighting conditions. Using a regular GBA to test the
Tuner indoors was an exercise in optical futility. Outdoors
in the sun was better of course, although adjustment
had to be made to get the best viewing angle. In the
end, I used a modified
GBA which had the Afterburner internal lighting
kit installed (expect a review for the Afterburner soon).
As you can see, it's unfair to penalize the Tuner,
but I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't mention this.
So if you really want a great experience using the Tuner,
make sure you have a modified internally lighted GBA
to use it with. Of course, it's still fantastic with
the regular GBA, provided you have good lighting.
I love the GBA TV Tuner, so enough said? Well maybe
not, as most of you know I'm rather biased when it comes
to any sort of GBA gadget and add-on. The Tuner, however,
is one gadget which I'm pretty sure will delight nearly
every GBA owner. To some it might seem impractical,
but to others it's a must have add-on, one that is feature
packed and reasonably priced enough to warrant my endorsement
and five star rating.
** Currently, only the PAL version
of the TV Tuner is available which supports the PAL B and PAL I mode for Europe, Australia and some other countries. This
version will not work in the US or Canada.
Click on pictures for bigger image:
Tuner Back View
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Tuner Top View
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