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Ninja GBA Halo (Upgrade Version)




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Review - Ninja GBA Halo (Upgrade Version)
(Added 26th June 2003)


I reviewed the first generation GBA Halo Light some time ago and was appalled by its dismal performance. Now, however, an "upgrade version" has been released, and thanks to GoldenShop, I have a sample here for review.

(*At this point, I wish to thank GoldenShop for being kind enough to send me another sample of their product, despite the fact that I had lambasted the first. Unlike other import shops, GoldenShop is unafraid of honest reviews, even when it's bad. This speaks well for the team at GoldenShop, and I thank them once again for sending us their products for review.)

As far as I can tell, the only difference between the original and upgraded version of the Halo Light is that the upgraded version includes two additional components: a piece of clear silicon rubber and a plastic alignment plate. Since the two products are basically the same, I suggest you read my review of the first generation Halo Light, as this review will focus mainly on the new components in the upgraded version, the extra steps needed to install them and of course, the final outcome.

Out Of The Box And What Do You Get

Click thumbnails for bigger picture.

A: Halo Screen Cover
B: Silicon Rubber Alignment Plate
C: Silicon Rubber
D: Screen Removal Tool
E: Power Adapter
F: Extra Double-Sided Screen Tape

You'll also get a well illustrated booklet on how to set-up and use the Halo light.

How It Works And The Installation

Since the upgraded version of the Halo Light has two new components, I will now explain how to install them. The rest of the procedure is exactly the same for the old Halo Light.

Click thumbnails for bigger picture.

After you remove the original screen cover, you'll need to place the alignment plate (item B) on where the screen used to be.

The silicon rubber (item C) piece is protected on both sides by plastic film. Carefully peel away only one side of the film.

Using the alignment plate as a guide, quickly place the silicon rubber (the side without the protective film) directly onto the GBA's LCD screen. It's important that the LCD screen is clean and free from dust. Using a lens blower would be a good idea.

Now, starting from the center of the silicon rubber, use your thumbs and press out any air bubbles trapped between the silicon rubber and the LCD screen.

Once the silicon is firmly attached to the screen and the air bubbles removed, use the tool to remove the alignment plate.

Remove the protection film from the silicon rubber and then attach the Halo screen cover (item A).

Just like before, press out any air bubbles that is trapped between the silicon rubber and the screen cover.

Finally, attach the Power Adapter (item E), turn it on and adjust the brightness control to your preference.

Using And Assessing

The upgraded version of the Halo Light entails a few more steps to set up on the GBA. Still, it is relatively easy and painless, compared to the set-up for the AfterBurner Kit. In truth, the whole upgrade actually centers on one main component, which is the silicon rubber piece. The problem with the old Halo Light was that unlike the AfterBurner, it did not include the AR film. The main purpose of the AR film is to prevent glare and diffuse the front-light evenly onto the GBA's LCD. Without it, the old Halo light suffered terribly from glare, color wash-out and uneven lighting.

To alleviate this problem, the upgraded Halo light now includes a piece of silicon rubber to serve as the AfterBurner's AR film. In theory, this seems like a good idea, but in real world testing, there are some problems.

I should state first of all, that the inclusion of the silicon rubber actually does improve the Halo light tremendously. The problem of glare and uneven lighting is greatly reduced. Unfortunately, the biggest problem is that silicon rubber does not adhere firmly to the LCD screen which results in rapid formation of air bubbles. So, no matter how much you press out the air bubbles initially, they will return in a matter of minutes and spoil everything. In the Afterburner, the AR film is "laminated" onto the LCD screen and so avoids this problem.

The picture below doesn't do justice to the actual brightness and improved lighting of the new Halo light. The trapezoid effect also isn't as pronounced when viewed head-on although just like the AfterBurner, you can expect some color wash-out. As I've mentioned, the biggest problem is the air-bubbles, and in the picture below, you can see that they are already starting to form.


The Halo light was always meant as simpler alternative to the AfterBurner, one that didn't require completely taking apart your GBA and knowing how to use a soldering iron. In it's first incarnation, it failed miserably because it did not include a method to reduce glare and provide even lighting.

In the upgraded version, it has actually found a way to reduce these problem by using a piece of silicon rubber which acts like the famed AfterBurner's AR film. Unfortunately, although the silicon rubber does work, it fails terribly in application, simply because it can't adhere firmly to the LCD screen. Yes, they should have used AR film in the first place, but that would have made the Halo light complicated to use. If you've tried the AfterBurner kit, you will know that the process of "laminating" the AR film onto the GBA's LCD is difficult, tedious and prone to disaster.

So, although the Halo light upgrade is vastly superior to the first version, it still isn't good enough for me to recommend whole heartedly. If you've not upgraded to SP, then the best internal light for your GBA is still the AfterBurner.

@ EAGB Advance 2002. All rights reserved.