- GBA(SP) Movie Player Adapter
26th September 2004)
I reviewed Version 1 of the GBA(SP) Movie Player sometime ago and while I liked it a lot, I couldn't honestly give it a five star rating, mainly because at that time, it was still a little buggy and difficult to use.
Well the good news is that a 2nd version of the Player has been released and I'm glad to report that the developers have done a great job in ironing out the kinks and improving its overall usability. Not only that, the player now sports a cool new look and added functions. Since the basic functions of 2nd version is the same as the 1st version, my review will focus mainly on the new functions and software enhancements. I suggest you read my initial review to get a better idea of what the Player is all about.
New Features of the GBA(SP)
Aside from playing movies, music and displaying standard text files, the new features include.
- Image Viewer that converts nearly every kind of image format to be viewed on the GBA SP.
- NES ROM emulator that allows you to play NES games on the GBA SP that are less than 200K in size.
The Encoding Software
The encoding software that comes with the Version 2 Player has been greatly improved. There are still no wizards to guide you, but the software is broken down into three separate programs for movies, images and music. There are also mouse-over help tips for each option in the program and since the programs themselves are relatively sparse, figuring it all out is quite easy. Basically, all you need to do is select the files you want to convert, choose where you want to save them to, and then press the "Convert" button.
The movie conversion program has preset options that allows you to choose the quality of the files you want to convert. If, however, you'd like to tweak the various setting, there's also a "Manual" option where you can tweak the bitrate, contrast and compression levels. The same goes for the music conversion program.
The new image conversion program is also easy to use and self-explanatory.
There's no conversion necessary though if you want to play NES ROM files. All you have to do is copy the ROM files, which must be less than 200k onto the CF card together with the Pocket NES emulator file. I didn't have a chance to test this feature but will do so later and post it as a separate write up.
The Player Menu
As you can see when you first insert the Player and switch on the GBA SP, the new menu sports 2 new icons - "IMAGE" and "FC GAME". Provided you have the relevant files, clicking on the icons will lead you to the file or folder list where you can choose the file you want to play.
Player menu icons.
After playing and testing the new player, I can safely say that overall, I am greatly impressed by this new version. Conversion quality and playback is pretty darn good, and provided you follow the suggestions I offered in my first review, you will be impressed by what you'll see and hear on your GBA.
My favorite though is the Picture viewer. There are quite a few options available when using the program, and what I particularly liked was the fact that the program could downsize a pretty large image file and make it look really good on the GBA SP screen. Although picture width was limited to 240 pixels, the height can be scaled accordingly, thus allowing you to scroll down when viewing it on the GBA SP.
More importantly, everything works. Unlike the 1st version, the built-in forward and backward controls for movie viewing in this 2nd version was flawless.
Well, what can I say? Although the 2nd Version player is a vast improvement over the first, it still isn't as feature rich as I'd like it to be. As an E-Book reader it still sucks, mainly because it doesn't support bookmarks. On the other hand, as a nifty little multimedia gadget, it sure is one hell of a performer. Yes, the conversion process is a little tedious, but the amount of stuff that you can play on it far outweighs the tedium now that high capacity CF cards are getting cheaper.
I also like the fact that the Player is firmware upgradeable, and that the developers at MovieAdvance.Com are working hard to promote and upgrade the player with better features (note - those who own version 1 can get a free upgrade to their firmware now). As such, I'm giving this new version 5 stars!