Overall : 8.9
Available : Now
Best Price: N/A
Review by John K.
About 8 months ago we reviewed the GBA Movie Player. Today we bring you the review of the second version of this product. If you have read our previous review of the GBA Movie Player, you might have noticed the complaints we had about the first version of this product. So without further delay, we will start the review now and see if these complaints have been dealt with.
Upon arrival I immediately noticed a difference from the previous version. This time the product comes in a cardboard box, with an extra plastic box around it. Inside the cardboard box you find the GBA Movie Player, which is significantly smaller than its predecessor, two discs and a manual. On the cardboard box itself, thereâ€™s some pictures and general information about the GBA Movie Player. Letâ€™s take a look at the manual first, since the previous version didnâ€™t have a manual at all. I must say that the manual is written in â€œbrokenâ€ English. I think this is due to the fact that the manufacturerâ€™s native language isnâ€™t English. It wouldnâ€™t hurt to hire a proper translator for the manual. Overall though the manual looks quite good; everything is well explained and understandable even with the bad spelling.
One small note about the Movie Player itself; the fit to the GBA is very tight, and it takes quite a lot of effort to insert and remove it. Letâ€™s carry on with the discs. The package comes with two discs; one with the conversion software and one with sample movies. On the disc with the sample movies you can find trailers of all kinds of different movies. But the real action starts with the software disc.
After installing the software you are presented with four converting applications; Converter Wizard, Image Converter, Movie Converter and Music Converter. Thereâ€™s also a folder with the PocketNES Famicom emulator to use the FC Emulation option of the GBA Movie Player. And last but not least thereâ€™s a folder with the firmware so you can upgrade your v1 GBA Movie Player with the newest firmware.
Letâ€™s look at the Converter Wizard first. The Converter Wizard guides you though the process of converting video files to the gbm/gbs format which the GBA Movie Player can read. You can choose from the easy method, where you are presented with High Quality, Standard and High Compression Mode. You can also tick the Manual Setting box and change the settings yourself (similar to the Movie Converter). Another nice option in the Wizard is that you can make your computer shut down after converting.
In the Image Converter you can input one or more image files and set some conversion options. One thing I did notice is that when you set the Output Format Setting to GBA True Color (default setting), the output image will be in blue tones. I donâ€™t think the GBA True Colors are supposed to be blue.
Moving on to the Movie Converter; this is basically the Converter Wizard all in one screen. I wonder why the Converter Wizard was added, since it adds no functionality whatsoever above the Movie Converter. You can choose from Manual Settings or easy settings here again and everything is pretty much the same as the Converter Wizard.
Last but not least is the Music Converter; you can input one or more music files here, and convert them with some quality settings. I have no idea why the manufacturer put a â€œShow Videoâ€ tick box here, since there is no video in music.
Converting images is easy; you just select your input files, select the Output Format Setting, scale settings and Output location settings. You can scale horizontally, vertically, both horizontally and vertically or not scale at all. The Output Format setting varies from two color black and white to true color. Basically what this converter does is create an uncompressed bitmap of your input file. This means you can just copy uncompressed bitmaps to your Compact Flash card as well and it would display them just as easily. Thereâ€™s a wide variety of input files you can use; BMP, DIB, RLE, PCX, DCX, JPEG, PNG, DXF, IMG, GIF, TIF, WPG, TGA, WMF and EPS.
When youâ€™re using the Movie Converter in Manual Setting mode, there are a number of settings you can change; at the General tab you can choose the Input Video Type, Input Video Quality and Input Video Brightness. At the Advanced tab you can change Compress Mode and Output Quality. Output Quality is basically the brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness. Moving on to the next tab; Video: Here you can set the Output Pic Aspect Ratio and Frame Limit. And last but not least; the Audio tab. Here you can choose the Audio Quality, based on Mode, Volume and Channel. I havenâ€™t found a perfect balance between these settings, so you will have to fiddle around with the settings yourself. I do, however, dislike the fact that there is always quality loss. It would be nice to have an option to just convert the movie as is, so there will be no loss in quality. When converting small trailers or music videos, I would like to keep the quality the same, which is impossible at the moment. I hope they will fix this in an updated version of the software.
Iâ€™m glad to see, or actually hear, that the quality of the audio has greatly improved. If you didnâ€™t read my review from the first version of the GBA Movie Player; I had some complaints about the poor audio quality in the last version. I must say that this is resolved beautifully, albeit not perfectly. There is still room for improvement, especially with todayâ€™s bigger Compact Flash Cards; it wouldnâ€™t hurt to keep the audio quality close to the original.
The Music Converter is pretty straightforward; you input one or more audio files, select the settings for the individual files and convert. As mentioned above, I am very satisfied with the improvement in audio quality over the previous version, although there is still a bit more room for improvement. If you have read ourGBA MP3 Music Recorder review, you will have seen how beautiful audio can sound through the headphones of the GBA. I hope a software update will resolve this and make this product more brilliant.
A new feature to the GBA Movie Player v2 is the option to play Famicom Games on the GBA. This needs a bit of explaining; you have to put the included PocketNES emulator file in the root of the Compact Flash Card and then load some NES ROMs on the Card as well. I guess we all know that ROMs are illegal, despite what some people may say about it when owning the original game. I donâ€™t know if Big N will like this feature of the GBA Movie Player, but time will tell. PocketNES is a great emulator for NES games on the GBA. The picture quality is crisp, and it has a lot of nice features such as autofire, display modes, FPS meter and others. This is a nice addition to the GBA Movie Player, although Iâ€™m not sure it will last.
Just as with the previous version, thereâ€™s an eBook viewer that handles text eBooks. In our previous review we mentioned a hang in the music when flipping through pages and menus. Iâ€™m glad to announce that this issue has been resolved and the only thing stopping you from Multi-Tasking is the high CPU load, meaning slower operation. Reading an eBook and listening to music isnâ€™t entirely unbearable, so I suppose many of you will use this function.
I have mentioned a few problems in my review again, but they are more annoyances than problems. The problems with v1 have been resolved nicely, but not as well as they could have been. The quality can still be improved and I hope it will, although this time only a software update will be needed. Iâ€™m very satisfied with the GBA Movie Player v2 and the new functions and bug fixes make it a worthy buy.
-Issues fixed over v1
-Audio quality greatly improved
-New Famicom Game function
-Still room for quality improvement
-Manual in improper English