- GBA & GBA
SP TV Tuner (NTSC Version)
22nd July 2003)
Awhile back, EAGB reviewed a TV
Tuner for the Game Boy Advance. During that time,
the GBA SP was still light years away--no one had even
dreamed of Nintendo announcing its development or release.
So it wasn't much of a surprise when the TV Tuner turned
out to be incompatible with the GBA SP.
view of the TV Tuner
with a GBA SP attached.
We recently got a new TV Tuner unit made by the same
manufacturer, but this time around, it's GBA SP compatible.
The packaging, box and contents are exactly the same
as the old TV Tuner, the only difference being the "for
GBA & SP" sticker on the front; would-be buyers
should carefully specify this if they want to use this
with their GBA SPs, lest they end up with a GBA-only
Brief Feature List
- Watch TV on your GBA.
- Store up to 99 channels.
- Built-in help menu and on screen commands.
- Accepts RF/AV signal input, enabling the GBA to be used as a monitor.
- GBA & SP compatible.
- Available in NTSC or PAL system.
- 6 months warranty.
What's In The box?
You get the TV Tuner module, a DC power supply adapter,
2 cable attachments (AV & antenna), and one stand.
The Tuner's shape is virtually the same GBA-like shape
as the old tuner, with the following features:
- Telescopic antenna.
- Volume control dial.
- Internal speaker.
- Cartridge slot.
- A/V in & out jack.
- Headphone jack.
- DC power jack.
- Ext. antenna jack.
Installation of the TV Tuner is a snap and worry-free;
you don't have to open up your GBA SP or anything to
attach it; all you have to do is insert it like a regular
cartridge into the GBA SP. There's also a spring stopper
at the back that's supposed to secure the GBA SP in
place, but the fit in the cartridge slot is already
snug, so there's no problem with it.
basic TV Tuner receiver.
TV Tuner is inserted into the GBA SP
like a cartridge.
"front" area of the Tuner.
The TV Tuner can be powered in two ways; you can
either use 4 alkaline or rechargeable AA batteries,
or plug it in a wall socket using the supplied DC adapter.
One important thing to note about this device is that
it doesn't power the GBA SP itself, so you have to make
sure your GBA SP's battery is adequately charged.
Before you use the TV Tuner, you have to insert a
GBA cartridge inside the tuner cartridge slot, or it
will not work. This is because it uses the boot up sequence
of GBA cartridges to activate it--any GBA cart will
Using The Tuner
Using this device is rather simple. The first time
I booted the TV Tuner, I was greeted with a brief screen
of static with some text at the top, then it immediately
jumped to the first VHF TV station available in our
Now this is the first time I've used a device like
this hands-on; I didn't review the old TV Tuner, so
seeing that live broadcast on my GBA screen for the
first time was a shock--the actual picture quality was
clear and sharp, it took me a moment to realize that
I was indeed watching TV on a GBA SP. Of course, the
GBA SP's built-in front light helps a lot, as it entirely
dispenses with the "dark screen" problem encountered
when using a GBA with the TV Tuner.
of a regular TV broadcast.
Picture reception will be dependent on your location;
in our area, using the telescopic antenna alone was
enough to get a clear picture, but in some areas where
the reception isn't that good, you can plug in an external
antenna through a supplied cable.
Pressing the L or R shoulder buttons will bring up
a help menu that lists all the commands available for
the TV Tuner. These commands are basically combination
keystrokes of the Select, Start, A, B, and joypad direction
keys, where you can do anything from adjusting brightness
and contrast, to manual or automatic scanning and storing
of channels (the tuner can store up to 99 channels in
The TV Tuner's sound is not output through the GBA
SP's speaker; instead it comes out through a built-in
internal speaker, which you can adjust through a volume
control dial. I was particularly impressed with the
sound quality as well--even though it's mono, the sound
is quite loud and clear.
Fun Stuff To Do
An included A/V cable opens up the TV Tuner to a
lot of possibilities. I tried connecting it to a VCR,
a DVD player, and even a PlayStation 2. As with its
TV broadcast quality, all the resulting displays on
the GBA SP from these external devices were sharp and
clear, without any drop in framerate whatsoever. The
photos I've taken don't really do the actual TV Tuner
displays justice, you have to see it for yourself in
order to be fully convinced.
of the Harry Potter DVD
displayed on a GBA SP.
It was quite fun to actually see Final Fantasy X
running on the GBA's tiny screen, as well as DVD movies
in widescreen format. Of course, I wouldn't go that
far as to regularly use the TV Tuner for PS2 gaming
or DVD viewing, but the fact that it's possible to use
it as an external monitor is remarkable in itself.
of the PS2 game Final Fantasy X
displayed on a GBA
Some Other Comments
Since the TV Tuner's design and shape is obviously
meant for a GBA, whose orientation has its cartridge
slot on top, you'll get some minor problems when using
it with a GBA SP. The main problem I noticed has to
do with the telescopic antenna; when using a GBA SP,
the unit has to lie on its back, and the antenna can't
do anything more than extend outwards--you can't possibly
move it upwards due to a limitation of the antenna's
joints (see photo).
antenna can not be moved upwards.
Using the TV Tuner with a GBA makes the entire thing
bulky, but the GBA SP's slim formfactor makes it less
voluminous. True, the side "wings" extend
out somewhat, but I've noticed that they make excellent
side grips if you're holding the unit. Let's hope that
the manufacturer will come out with unit redesigns in
the future to complement the GBA SP's design. And lastly,
the included stand is virtually useless now with the
GBA SP, unless you want to watch TV upside down.
The TV Tuner is an amazing add-on device for the
GBA SP--picture quality and sound are excellent, and
with the GBA SP's frontlight, you can be assured of
a nicely lighted screen that you can watch even in the
dark. It's easy to install and operate, with all the
commands you need available in one keypress, and it
even works as an external monitor. If you're the type
of gamer that also needs to watch TV on the go, the
TV Tuner is one very handy, must-have portable gadget