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Handhelds Entertainment Games Hardware

Listen To Your Game Boy Advance 171

Posted by timothy
from the uncumbrance dept.
filmsmith writes "It looks like Nintendo may be interested in using the GBA to enter the PDA market and even considering itself competition for the Apple iPod. It smells of DMCA pandering, though. 'It looks like protection will be in place to ensure that even content recorded by users (through the use of a special adapter) will not be able to be shared with other users.' Planet Gamecube has the article here."
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Listen To Your Game Boy Advance

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  • w00t (Score:3, Funny)

    by e12532 (158556) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:09AM (#5229392)
    Think what we could do with a beowulf cluster of those (sorry, i couldn't resist)

    Seriously though, it looks interesting -- the GBA is a nice little piece of hardware :)
  • FP? wow (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Wierd Willy (161814)
    My Brother was experimenting with this a few years ago, he tried changing the processor and he monkeyed around with getting linux to run, but then he got a job and put it aside. I dont know what happened with that but this could be something interesting if they can make it work.
  • whhhhhaaaaatttt? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Notice to Nintendo! Stick with what you know best...gaming consoles, you already are the Apple equivliant in the Game Console Industry. NO PDA's NO MP3 Players! Just stick with ther games!
    • Exacltly...

      http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=52843&op=Reply &threshold=0&commentsort=0&tid=127&tid=137&tid=100 &mode=thread&pid=5229448

    • Back in the early nineties there was a "game" called workboy for the original gameboy which was basically a PDA. It even came with a keyboard.

      Of course, that was a flop at the time. But I think that one of the big problems with game consoles today (as opposed to before) is that you can get pretty enough throughput (which is the most important feature of graphical applications) with a general purpose CPU as you can with a gaming CPU.

      So perhaps branching into the markets of their general use counterparts may allow them to be justified (well, I could get a PDA to use at work which plays games sometimes, or a gameboy...).

      I know that I have pretty much decided that the age of the console is over. For me it's PC and PDA games from now on.
    • No, Nintendo is the Microsoft of the gaming industry.

      They pioneered vendor lock in for game consoles with their exclusive developer contracts, and have recently been found guilty of price-fixing by the EU. Not to mention the fact that the NES led to way to the now-common anticompetition pratices among game consoles, thanks to it's lockout chip.

  • Again... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Slashdot Insider (623670) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:11AM (#5229410)
    I know it makes for good headlines, but nowhere does it say Nintendo is endorsing this.
    • Sometimes the "summaries" of the articles almost make it seem like the submitter didn't even read the article.

      These accessories are entirely third party. bah!

  • by Cali Thalen (627449) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:12AM (#5229416) Homepage
    "Eventually, the company hopes that this technology can be used for study aids, advertisements, museum guides, or digital comic books..."

    If they market the thing along those lines, I bet we'll be looking back next year saying 'What was that stupid game boy trick they were trying to pass off on us last year...?'

  • Two questions (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    1. Does it run Linux
    2. Does it play OGG?
    • 1. Does it run Linux
      2. Does it play OGG?

      Ofcourse not. Everyone knows that Linux has a lack of games, so it couldn't run on GameBoy Advanced. That wouldn't just be appropriate.

  • Nooooo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kirby-meister (574952) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:15AM (#5229431)
    I just want games.

    I don't care if my PS2 can run Linux, or my Xbox can be turned into some media center. I don't care that my Gameboy Advance will soon try to take the place of my iPod.

    I just want games. I am a gamer. MAME for Xbox, or DreamSNES or other emulators for Dreamcast (play NES/SNES/Genesis games on your Dreamcast), or the new e-card reader for the Gameboy Advance I know some people would rather do the opposite of what I just said, but I only care about the games. Smash Bros, Panzer Dragoon, Radiant Silvergun, Gunstar Heroes, Super Mario Bros, Final Fantasy Tactics...not Red Hat, MPlayer, X server, Xvid, ogg....

    Besides, I have my computer for all that other stuff. My 19" CRT is a much better choice for video due to the better clarity compared to my 20" JVC from 1995.

    • ..but I meant to say that MAME for Xbox, DreamSNES/et cetera, and the e-card reader from Nintendo are GOOD(tm) things for a gamer whose SNES collection is being killed off by nephews with juice and controllers falling to pieces.
    • Re:Nooooo (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ShadowDrake (588020)
      Convergence is, by and large, a good thing. It means fewer devices to pack, learn, and keep fed. The CPU power and memory is already paid for, and the system is presumably designed to remain running fairly continuously, so why not only require users to carry one box and keep one set of batteries charged?
      • Re:Nooooo (Score:4, Insightful)

        by WaKall (461142) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @06:35AM (#5230139) Homepage
        The more a device tries to do, the more likely it will have trouble and/or fall short. There's a lot to be said for custom hardware/firmware, instead of solving everything in software.

        Convergence is a good way to solve some problems - cell phone + pager + PDA, for example. However, a functional laptop will never fit in your pocket, and a phone will never display enough to substitute for your laptop. So you'll have both and use/carry when appropriate.

        I like having a separate device for games (aka, my GBA with afterburner). If it gets outdated, I replace it, and keep my phone. Likewise for the phone, I can replace it at will.

        I imagine the market would get pretty saturated if you made every permutation of convergence devices for sale, and you'd still have to address the problems of battery power as you throw more processor to do things in software, or just add more hardware into a device and make it larger.

        Then there's 8 year olds with GBAs - they probably don't need/want a cell phone and PDA.
        • Re:Nooooo (Score:2, Informative)

          Then there's 8 year olds with GBAs - they probably don't need/want a cell phone and PDA

          Here in the UK cell phones amoung 8 year olds are now fairly common. It's all those parents who want to know where there kids are. Phones are common birthday and chrimble gifts. Many come with MP3 functionality built in or you can purchase clip on players for less than $50 which include memory card and reader

          There will be a market for the game boy add on, just not much of one.

      • Re:Nooooo (Score:3, Insightful)

        In theory, yes, convergence can be good. In practice in the Gaming industry, convergence has generally meant trying to force a console to buy and sell stocks over a proprietary network or edit documents on the worst text editor known to man. Consoles are optimized for playing games, which means they do sprite manipulation, polygon manipulation, texturing, and backgrounds particularly well, and everything else absolutely horribly. If you look up homebrew code to get the GBA to display text, you will find it would make a miserable PDA. Absolutely nothing is optimized for text insertion, highlighting, etc... And this is markedly worse than your average PDA, as they are intended to be general computing devices. Even the TI-8x calculator series has more generalized routines.

        Convergence comes up so often in the gaming world that it has become a hated word. Convergence means that somebody doesn't get it. Somebody doesn't feel that gaming alone is worth having a console for, and so they must go and make a sub-par printer attachment or Saturn-Based e-mail client or Trackball with encyclopedia sets or Markie Mark make-your-own-video game... Convergence means more Hollywood types are on the prowl, and that is never a good thing.

        Convergence can be a good thing, when it extends naturally from the course of developing good dedicated hardware. PS2 DVD playback is a good thing. XBOX MP3 playback is a good thing. A GBA digital video entertainment hub borders on the asinine.
      • Convergence is an excuse to keep the price range for devices in the $500 range. I'll agree with your argument when we start to see some useful convergence that is affordable, I.E, features are added because the device could do that anyway and it adds no cost. For now, converged devices jut mean things are more expensive, have shorter battery life, and duplicate functionality with the other stuff you need because each device is only really good at one thing and sucks at everything else.

        Besides, this article isn't about convergence, it's about some stupid third party company thinking that a 32MB MP3 player the size of a GBA will be desireable, even though you can't play games at the same time as listening to music like you could if you had truly seperate devices, and the total cost will be the same as two seperate devices.
  • by trmj (579410)
    They have never been much for sharing, even their old games. They can still profit from them and so still want to sell everything to users.

    They currently still sell even their ancient NES games as playable on the GBA through the use of the e-card reader.

    Just because nintendo has a great line of games and (in my opinion) a great line of consoles, doesn't mean they are a morally correct company. They have done everything from price fixing to scamming the government. They are the MS of consoles, even while MS is in the console biz,
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:26AM (#5229494)
      They have never been much for sharing, even their old games. They can still profit from them and so still want to sell everything to users.

      Imagine that. A company wants to profit from the product they create. Fuckers.

      They currently still sell even their ancient NES games as playable on the GBA through the use of the e-card reader.

      Thus, the ancient NES games are playable. If the makers of the game can turn a profit, why shouldn't they be allowed to do so? That's what they were made for in the first place.

      Or should NES games enter the public domain after 10 years, because you want to play an emulator? Come on. It's not abandonware. Nintendo has all the right in the world to prevent the illegal copying of their games.

      Just because Nintendo has a great line of games and (in my opinion) a great line of consoles, doesn't mean they are a morally correct company.

      Bunk. It's like you listen to Lessig but you're not really hearing him. The creators of the work have the right to be compensated for their work, for a reasonable window of time.

      They have done everything from price fixing to scamming the government...

      This I know nothing about, but I'd be curious to read more if you've got links.

      Sorry. It sounds like I'm picking on you here, which is not the intent. I'm just bothered by your sense of entitlement.
      • Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of nintendo and have never owned another console (because all my friends had them and I would use theirs).

        However, some quick googling turned up this link [bbc.co.uk] that shows the most recent price fixing by nintendo, occurring just last year. Some more searching will uncover much more.
    • by Moridineas (213502) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:51AM (#5229577) Journal
      Out of curiosity why should Nintendo "share" their old games..ESPECIALLY if people are willing to buy them? I just don't get the logic that would make you think "oh, well because they are old, they should be free"

      That said, yeah, other aspects of Nintendo's operations have been..less than clean.
  • A Few Concerns (Score:5, Informative)

    by GweeDo (127172) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:15AM (#5229433) Homepage
    My concerns are with the quality. The first is with the Audio...the DSP that is built into the GBA isn't going to be playing my favorite bands in any form of high quality. My second concern with with video. 240x160x16bit color basically can't be done in full motion on the GBA (just can't make enough memory writes before VBLANK ends). 240x160x8bit is though...but who wants to watch 256 color vides?
    • "but who wants to watch 256 color vides?"

      Ever hear of Smacker?

      256 color videos have been out and acceptable for quite a long time. It's an encoding choice, not like the GBA has to dither it in real time.
    • Re:A Few Concerns (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      True, the speakers are bad, but if you use headphones its a completely different matter.
    • Re:A Few Concerns (Score:3, Informative)

      by vandel405 (609163)
      I've Actually done some gameboy advance development (http://www.neo-modus.com/GBAAtaxx.zip). And IIRC, the GBA is running at 60fps. I doubt any mpegs are gonna be 60fps, maybe 24fps? Anyway, that doubles your write time. Anyway, you're going to need to double buffer, which means you should use mode 5, which is 160x128. So now you almost have a factor of 4 increase in time, I think it can be done...

      But then again, who cares about 160x128 mpegs, unless its pr0n.

    • The sound can't be a great sample rate at any resolution. They are trying to get 5 hours of audio (notice they ddin't say music) in 24 megs of a 32 meg memory card. (note the loss of space to the DRM stuff.) Somehow, I expect my old compact cassette player to have much bette sound.
      I can't imagine anything that anyone would pay good money for in that low-fi format.
      The last time I tried to buy one of those cards for my camers, I could only find 64 meg and 128 meg sizes on the shelf. What gives spec'ing this to an obsolete 32 meg card?
      • Technician wrote:

        > They are trying to get 5 hours of audio (notice they didn't
        > say music) in 24 megs of a 32 meg memory card. (note
        > the loss of space to the DRM stuff.)

        I don't know about the audio quality. The article did say, however, that what was stored on the card was the CODEC, compiled to run only on the GBA. I suspect that it uses copy protection rather than DRM. With the files compressed with their CODEC, you can only get the audio out back out of the compressed format on your GBA. DRM would involve keeping track of who had rights to what.

        Much as I hate DRM, copy protection, and companies treating their customers as untrustworthy potential criminals, I have to say that this isn't too bad. At least they give you the ability to use cheaper cards to store a lot of content in return for being burdened with copy protection. I'm probably not going to buy one though, as it would pale in comparison to my iPod.

        > The last time I tried to buy one of those cards for my
        > camers, I could only find 64 meg and 128 meg sizes on
        > the shelf. What gives spec'ing this to an obsolete 32 meg
        > card?

        Best Buy has the 32MB Smartmedia cards in stock for $24.99 (USD) a piece on their web site. As to why use them: they are cheap. Remember, the market is kids with GBAs, not a market with bucks to spend on huge sized cards.

        Chief Tsujimori: "I won't let you get away. I will never let you escape."
        Godzilla elegantly lifts his tail skyward to give her the "finger", crashes it down on the water, and submerges.
        "Godzilla X Megagiras", 2000
        • Wow, and a 128 meg card is $45 at costco. The small cards are over twice the price per meg. I've been watching the diffrence in price of less than 10 dollars between the 64 Meg card (largest my camera takes) and the 128 Meg card. I've been trying to get a better deal per meg for my camera. My next camera will not be limited by the size of the media it will accept. Hopefully I can find a good one where I can use any size of CF card.
    • by umai (551369)
      Well, you can get Gameparks' GP32 then. It has 133Mhz, 320x240@16bit, there is a MP3 Player, a DivX3 Player, Smartmedia slot built in, loads of full speed emulators (SMS, NES, Scumm, Sarien, GB, C64, MSX, C16, ZX), load of nearly full speed emulators being worked on (pcengine, genesis, snes) and even Linux ported to it. Some people work on a GBA emulator even, but that will be hard to do 100% right, although the GP32 has an ARM tdmi9, so they try to execute GBA code directly and use the dma to trap hardware calls. And be reminded that this is a handheld game, it has a microswitch joystick, much better than gba's joypad and way ahead any PDA's unusable directional pad.
      • Actually, the gp32 has a 32 bit CPU. And stereo speakers.

        There is also a partial mame port that runs a few games. I am trying to get started on a full port of an older mame version, but I need to get my hands on a gp32, since the emulator (geepee32), while nice, isn't perfect.

        Who has the gp32 at the best price (including shipping to the US)? Play-Asia.com?

        • by umai (551369)
          I got my GP32 from a korean friend who visited home last year. She bought it at an internet shop there. But you can ask Kyoungmo Lee @ Gamepark directly (withmo@gamepark.com), he had an offer for a GP32 incl. 16MB game for 140$ for amateur developers. But I think that offer was valid only until 3/2002 :(. Because of that, I would recommend Entware now (~150Euro), http://www.entware.com/eng_shop/shop_game_sw_more. asp
          With every purchase you get "mileage" with which you can download games or the movie player. You can find a comparison of different shops here:
          http://pub61.ezboard.com/fgp32frm9.showMess age?top icID=24.topic
  • Didn't something like this try and come out for the old game boy and were sued by nintendo it seems to be the same thing. I can smell a law suit.
  • -1 Exagerated (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kweg (305533) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:16AM (#5229438)
    from the article -
    "32MB SmartMedia card can hold up to 24 minutes of video, and 5 hours of audio."

    That's some pretty low quality.
  • MP3's? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jippy_ (564603) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:18AM (#5229445)
    Aww.. kickass.. Now I can listen to a Zelda remix.... while I play the Zelda remake...
  • I think if anything PDA's with decent games will sell. My logic is thus: Only serious people want PDA's => People walk into a shop and don't want to hear 'gameboy' or 'playboy'!!! kids walk into a shop and here the word PDA and say whats this. The kid soon discovers the game boy is not the simple devide he wanted and buys a Game Cube instead.........The rest rights itself
  • by djupedal (584558) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:18AM (#5229451)
    "...content recorded by users (through the use of a special adapter) will not be able to be shared with other users."

    Ah yes, the 'cone of silence'...how unique :)
    • GBA isn't a competitor for the iPod until you take away the filter, add storage space, and then give it decent sound quality. Then it might be.
  • by Mr_Tulip (639140) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:18AM (#5229452) Homepage
    I fail to see how this will make the Gameboy Advance into a PDA.. Although I'd love this to happen, coz then I could claim a gameboy as a legitimate Tax Deduction =)

    One thing that it lacks is a proper input device. To enter addresses and send emails etc. you need, above all, a quick and accurate way to enter text into this beastie

  • by Arcaeris (311424) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:20AM (#5229464)
    "A 32MB SmartMedia card can hold up to 24 minutes of video, and 5 hours of audio."

    Holy God, compression are they using? On the audio side, a 128 kbps mp3 runs at about 1 MB/min, and that sounds like crap to the discerning ear. I guess on the Gameboy speakers it won't really matter: all you'll hear are pops and cracks.

    As for the video, 24 minutes? I guess if the screen is small and the resolution bad, but who wants to watch porn on their Gameboy anyway? I never dreamed of the day I'd see GameBoy Pocket Pool.
    • Don't look at the Planet Gamecube's abstract. In original article [excite.co.jp] it said (emphasis mine):

      The software for reproduction, codec technology, etc. are included in a media [ not an adapter but ] side. If the animation for about 24 minutes is recordable on 32MB of SmartMedia Although the codec of an animation corresponds to ARM-7 CPU carried in GBA, the details of the formats, such as the bit rate, are not clarified.

      Planet GameCube just take whatever am3 [am3.co.jp] announced without digesting it. The original article stated clearly that there are some missing information.
    • Midi.

      blah, blah, etc, stupid filter time wait thing etc, etc
  • Why doesn't /. (Score:4, Informative)

    by jsse (254124) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:21AM (#5229467) Homepage Journal
    link to the original article [excite.co.jp] directly? Planet Gamecube's just point to that link with rubblish abstract.
  • SO, if I have a large volume of audio/video files already then there is not much point to this because it wont play my current files. Unless, if I understand right, I transfer the files to their 'special' smart media cards with the codec built in.

    And, what if I copy something to the device? That media belongs to me now right?
    How can i archive this new media to my PC with the rest of my files if there is 'protection' from copying files?

    This seems like a pointless attempt to get PDA functionality out of a piece of hardware designed to only play games.
  • PDA market? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chris Canfield (548473) <slashdot@chrisca ... t ['ld.' in gap]> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:24AM (#5229484) Homepage
    A: the article in question says that a consortium of 3rd party companies (Toshiba, Imagica, and Bandai), none of which are related to Nintendo, have created essentially an MP3 / media player for the Game Boy Advance.

    B: MP3 players for the original Game Boy have been available for many years, and never sold particularly well. This was probably due to the decompression being done in hardware, driving prices up. 40 dollars for an MP3 player isn't bad.

    C: The article mentions Museum tours and Manga as potential content to be distributed on this system, none of which compete in any way with the IPod.

    D: The article says you will be able to get 5 hours of audio on a 32 MB smartmedia card. Either this means the compression level will be rediculously high and the output quite, quite bad, or they are using MIDI / Mod techniques, or (and this is my personal opinion), Planet GameCube just doesn't have a factchecker on staff.

    DMCA Pandering? Competition for the 20GB gee-I-sound-and-look-sleek Ipod? Are people throwing random buzzwords into stories theses days in order to get them posted? What does this even have to do with PDAs?

    Come on Filmsmith and Timothy... Justify yourselves. What do you know that we don't?

    P.S. The article that this article is based upon can be found, with pictures, here [excite.co.jp].

  • Too bad... (Score:2, Informative)

    by llamaluvr (575102)
    The Game Boy Advance SP won't even have a headphone jack.
    • Re:Too bad... (Score:2, Informative)

      Then I guess this [planetgamecube.com] and this [planetgamecube.com] must be a figment of my imagination then?
      • Re:Too bad... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by llamaluvr (575102)
        ummm...yeah...after every other Game Boy has included that on-board, I was kinda expecting the same thing for the SP. I don't appreciate having to pay $10-15 extra just to have the ability to actually hear the game.
        • It includes a rechargeable battery and AC adapter does it not? I guess you don't appreciate that either? At least I don't have to worry about the jack breaking like the output on my SB Live.
          • I'd have to agree with you on that point. I mean, I don't have a car, so I don't have to worry about it breaking down.

            Then again, that also means I stay home on the weekends.

            Judging by the size of the external earphone adapter, would it have cost that much space for Nintendo to include one on-board?

            It's a bit OT, but it seems lately Nintendo's been all about chiding people to buy as much stuff as possible. For instance, they are releasing more and more Game Cube games that require the GBA and the 'Cube-GBA connector cord to be able to use all the features. Supposedly, the new Pokemon Arena game for the 'Cube will REQUIRE the GBA, the connector, and the GBA Pokemon game in order to play it. They made the GBA screen such that you have to be standing on the sun in order to see it, and now they're selling another GBA that fixes that problem. And now the headphone adapter fiasco!

            I know I'm not forced to buy any of this, but I really miss the days when things were fully functional right out of the box.
  • by skermit (451840) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:27AM (#5229498) Homepage
    Nobody talks about MP3/CD players. My new iRiver SlimX 400 [iriveramerica.com] has about 11 and a half hours at 128kbps, with full track titles, 23 hour battery life, and even an FM tuner. Plus if you get bored, you can play snake (nibbles, etc.) on the smart remote it comes with. It's thinner than a AA battery on the side, and looks like 5 CDs stacked on top of one another. Not to mention I don't have to worry about taking an hour of my favorite music, I just burn 700mb at a time and take what I want, where I want. Plus iRiver actually puts a lot of support behind their products, and if you check out the firmware site, they update around every couple months, adding new features, and even increasing batterylife by use of intelligent buffering techniques. Oh... did I mention there's 6 minutes of anti-shock? Hah... GBA audio lame... Overpriced mp3 harddrive players lame... Expensive smart media/flash mp3 players lame...
    • I'd say that $199 is overpriced for a CD-MP3 player. I'd rather just fork out the extra $100 and get a nice 5 gig iPod [apple.com], complete with near-instantaneous (esp. compared to CD burning) file transfer and complete integration with my music software. That, or there are plenty of other [archos.com] jukeboxes [creative.com] available right in your price range.

      • Considering the Archos Jukebox Studio 20GB runs for $130(with rebate)-$160 if you watch the sales, and $225 even at Amazon, I think $199 is definitely overpriced. And it's USB, so it plugs into just about every machine available (not just the occaisonal firewire box) and mounts as a standard USB storage device. Heck, for $200, it's almost worth it just as a portable HDD.

    • Overpriced MP3 harddrive players? When the 20GB Archos Jukebox can be had for 200 dollars, the same as this dinky little 600 MB thing? Compact Flash MP3 players lame? When they can be used in constant vibration situations like jogging, mountain biking, or tennis? No X minutes antishock, just complete shock ambivalence. Why mention the antishock anyway? 6 minutes is about minimum for MP3 hard drive systems. I believe you meant 16 minutes, which isn't bad, but the Archos Jukebox takes about 2 seconds to spin up, 1 second to fill the 8 mb buffer with data, and 2 seconds to spin down. The MP3CD players all have to spin up a much larger disk, skim data at much slower rates, and spin the disk back down, or have constant spinning rates. HD players are therefore quite, quite skip resistant under adverse conditions.

      23 hour battery life must be for listening to the radio. If they are anything like other MP3 CD players, it gets 4 hours from a standard set of batteries, which isn't any better than a Hard Drive system. So, for 200 dollars (which is outrageously high for an MP3 CD player, BTW), you less capacity than a hard-disk based drive, less upgradability, similar anti-shock, and the same battery life, and the benifit of having to burn a new disk everytime you want to listen to something different, rather than just having your entire MP3 collection with you at any time.

      This is why MP3 CD players are relegated to the low end of the MP3 spectrum. They can't beat hard disk systems on convienience, but they can do so on price. This one, oddly, doesn't. So they get tagged onto inexpensive portable CD players, and everyone forgets that they were once cool. How can that create buzz when someone whips out a little brick with a lifetime supply of music?

      Who modded this insightful? They must have meant inciteful.
    • I have a 20GB Archos Jukebox. After rebate, it can be had for roughly the same ballpark as your player ($199 v.s. $220).

      I had a discman-style MP3 player in the past and found sorting my gigabytes of music out onto CDR's to be a pain in the butt, plus having to change CD's, etc.

      Even if the capacity is higher, that is why I gave up CD's in the first place!

      Battery life is excellent, although I have never bothered to actually benchmark it. The batteries are rechargable and it gets plugged into power in my car enough to keep it topped off, anyway.

      With 20GB, I can store my entire collection, and with USB 2.0, keeping it synced with the MP3 partition on my PC is plenty easy and quick.

      Oh, and did I mention it also functions as a voice recorder?
    • >>http://www.iriveramerica.com/SlimX_350.htm

      Pretty cool thingy!
    • My Rio Sport has a little bit less capacity, only 256. However, it's all solid state, the only moving parts are the buttons. That's the biggest problem with the MP3 CD players. That and the fact that unless you've got really big pockets (like maybe on a jacket or something) you've got to carry it.

      Anyway, that's not to put down the CD player, it has legitimate uses. However, it's hemmed in on the low end by flashcard players, and on the high end by hard drive players. You call them overpriced, but a 5 gig iPod is only $300 MSRP, versus $200 for your iRiver. So if you can deal with moving parts (ie, you're not going to be running with it on a daily basis), then for just a little more money you can septuple your capacity with an iPod (which can fit in a standard pants pocket). So the market segment that wants an mp3 player with more than 256 megs of space, doesn't mind a device with a large diameter, doesn't mind having moving parts, and yet isn't willing to shell out the extra $100 for an iPod is just not very large.

  • Expansion Again (Score:3, Informative)

    by grimsweep (578372) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:28AM (#5229500)
    There was a company a looong while back that wanted to turn the *original* GameBoy into a PDA of sorts. They created a keyboard module that came with the cartridge.

    Not a bad idea.

    What would really get my attention is a 802.11 wireless pack for the GBA. It'd probably be a little nicer than what affordable web-enabled cell phones can offer, and far more bandwidth (even at low-power modes).

    It'd be quite a challenge, but very rewarding. Not many people can afford to grab a PDA just for surfing the web wireless, but I certainly wouldn't mind a GBA solution if the price was right.

    The only big inconvenience might be typing. Maybe a stand and a keyboard attachment?

    • I'm not even sure where to begin. To me, this falls under the "sure, it can be done, but... um... why?"

      I mean, really, I could modify my $0.89 bic lighter into a gas grill of some sort, maybe cook up some food in a really shoddy fashion, but is that really a solution?

      Why don't we just let these devices stick to what they really are. A Game Boy is a Game Boy, not a PDA. Want a PDA? Drop the money on a PDA. Can't afford a PDA? Then you probably don't actually need a PDA, you just want a PDA.

      Just my .02. I really do understand having fun with this stuff, I hack around on useless crap all the time, I just don't see the point in saying there's a lot of real good use to this. Let's call it geeky fun and be done with it! ;)
      • Re:Expansion Again (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo (153816)
        A GBA with a bluetooth or 802.11 module and perhaps some IR or something would be an ideal "smart home" controller. It's got a few buttons that can be used to navigate menus in some standard way. You could basically use it as some kind of thin client for custom content, maybe with a little flash player if you wanted to get really froggy.

        It would be considerably cheaper than doing it with any other platform I can think of if your desired feature set includes a color screen and ready retail availability (IE, no starting with anything used.) The only problem is the lighting issue, which does raise the price somewhat. The newer lit model may improve on this issue.

        It would be nice to have a cart with some flash, fairly high-speed IR, and bluetooth or 802.11. I don't really care which, 802.11 is probably more convenient in that people have them already, moreso than bluetooth gateways.

      • Why don't we just let these devices stick to what they really are. A Game Boy is a Game Boy, not a PDA. Want a PDA? Drop the money on a PDA. Can't afford a PDA? Then you probably don't actually need a PDA, you just want a PDA.

        For the record, Nintendo has flatly stated that they are a game company and are not interested in pursuing alternative uses of their technology. They made this clear when initially pressed as to why the GameCube doesn't offer a built-in DVD player like the PS2 and X-Box.

        This add-on doesn't appear to be endorsed by Nintendo in any way.

  • Digital comic Books? you mean like this? [imdb.com] Josh Baskins Strikes Again!!!
  • by Glytch (4881) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:36AM (#5229528)
    Instead of spending $150 for a low-end Clie, or spending $50 on a clearance-sale Visor Deluxe (thanks for the boxing day sale, Staples! :) ), someone will go right out and spend $100 for a GBA, plus $40 for the adaptor so that they can use a substandard PDA.

    I know by the time I press "Submit" everyone else will have made the same point, but it had to be said.
    • I know a number of people who have retreated to electronic roladex equivalents or slightly more featureful devices like the wizard. If you add that functionality to game playing, and you really want to play games -- And the GBA is sort of like a cartridge-fed playstation, it's quite powerful and has a great form factor, and a decent screen. Especially if you install that side lighting hack. (Someday I'll get a GBA and I'll do that stuff, but I don't have money to throw at that just now.)

      Also GBAs are less than $100 in retail stores now.

    • Noone's going to buy a GBA then buy the addon just to use it as a PDA. It's a friggin GAME BOY ADVANCED, it's made to play games. The PDA (or mp3-player) functionality is just a bonus. Nothing wrong with the ability to 'do more' with an already fantastic product =)

      -Berj
  • PDA? I think not. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Latrommi (615673) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:38AM (#5229532)
    It looks like Nintendo may be interested in using the GBA to enter the PDA market

    And how many other successful PDA's can you name that have no touchscreen or keyboard (other than the control pad and a couple buttons). Or are they going to come out with the GBA keyboard? Seriously now, the thing isn't even backlit!
  • 'It looks like protection will be in place to ensure that even content recorded by users (through the use of a special adapter) will not be able to be shared with other users.'

    Ok, someone correct me if I'm wrong, doesn't this take away a great deal of it's usefulness? For example, if I want to record some lecture notes (i.e. audio) I will not be able to share those notes with my peers? Seems like there are plenty of more flexible alternatives already out there.
  • ...that the device will be inaudible without a 3rd-party hack (AfterBurner Audio?). Seems to be Nintendo's modus operandi as of late.
  • Given the current competition to Nintendo in the handheld market, Cell Phones and PDA's, this would make sense in a move to position themselves in the market's future. That's what all companies have to do to be successful. In fact, Nintendo has already been burned for being behind the curve (PSX taking their console crown, for example).

    However, with Nintendo's hard stance of having all control of content and copy-protection, they would have a hard time surviving in this business. What I would invision is more of the closed model in this area, not so much a PDA but rather a Cell Phone with PDA-functions and game capability. Tie it to an account, and prevent a lot of the transfers without using the minutes, etc.

    I wouldn't say that this is a bad place for Nintendo. In fact, I would say this is where it needs to go. However... I have a problem imagining them having the success in this market that they would with the GBA and handhelds. Could you really look at a Nintendo PDA and think of it as a business tool, or a toy.

    However, the GBA and the GameCube are both shining examples of compact technology integration, and the ability to play old nintendo games without special equipment would be rather cool...
  • There's another article about this in Gamepro [gamepro.com]. A sharp-eyed Miyazaki fan noticed that Future Boy Conan, an early Miyazaki TV series, appears on one of the cards in one of the lower pictures.

    Funny...in the Niven et al book Fallen Angels [baen.com] (the book that makes notable references to RMS), one of the methods used to get around the totalitarian anti-literature government is to retrofit regular gameboys to serve as covert e-book devices. Looks like life's imitating art.

    Speaking of the iPod, I've heard a rumor that the next one will have sixty gigs of storage and a touch-sensitive screen, and be Apple's entry into the fully-functional PDA market. No idea if it's true, but it sure would be neat if it were.
  • I'm afraid to listen to my GBA for what it would have to say to me. I listened to my Rice Kripies once and I distincly heard them say "Snap, Crackle, Fuck you!"
  • This looks to be a good solution for something better than the iPod.

    It has the potential to make the GBA superior in all ways to the current iPod. What if it could run Linux too? There we'd have everything we need

    A better form factor, interface, and color screen. Not to mention audio in and out.

    Also given that Apple are a traditonally legal-happy company we don't want to go hoo-haa over the iPod when there's a better solution

    One not wrapped up in legal rangles.
  • by doctor_no (214917) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:40AM (#5229703)
    It seems like more a portable video player than an Ipod.

    Here is the link
    http://mb.vgdirectory.com/game020403d.htm [vgdirectory.com]
    [slashdot.org]
    "AM3 announced they will release a Smart Media Adaptor for GameBoy Advance and GameBoy Advance SP in October, which allows you to download multimedia contents and play on the GameBoy Advance. The AM3 Smart Media Adaptor will retail for 2800 yen, and the AM3 32M Smart Media Cards will retail for 2000 yen each. Downloadable contents such as e-Books, animated cartoon will retail between 200 - 500 yen each. AM3 is also planning to install kiosk terminals in convenient stores for customers to purchase contents."
  • by doctor_no (214917) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:10AM (#5229769)
    Is seems they plan on distrubuting content through kiosks [impress.co.jp] and the internet, as well as selling smartcards with content already on it.

    They plan on selling music, videos, comics, e-books, and photographs.
    http://www.watch.impress.co.jp/game/docs/20030204/ am3_13.htm [impress.co.jp]

    The product's price seems resonable at 2800yen ($28.46US) for the device. The 32MB Smartcard will be 2,000yen ($16.75), and individual content will cost 200yen ($1.68).

    Another interesting thing is that since Palm uses Arm7 processors and SDs that content will probably be compatible with Palm devices at a later date.

    Links: (In Japanese)
    Gamspot Japan
    http://www.zdnet.co.jp/gamespot/gsnews/0302/04/new s05.html [zdnet.co.jp]
    Watch Impress
    http://www.watch.impress.co.jp/game/docs/20030204/ am3.htm [impress.co.jp]
    Offical Page
    http://www.am3.co.jp/ [am3.co.jp]
  • Before everyone starts wondering why Nintendo is trying to make this kind of move in the market (and I'm pretty sure I'm a bit late on that, but...) I'd like to point out that this is a third party that is producing this peripheral, not Nintendo.
    "A company called am3, funded by Toshiba, Imagica, and Bandai..."
    Probably won't even get a nod from the Big N.
  • Here's another media player for the GBA. It
    looks like this one is shipping.

    Songpro [songpro.com] (annoying website warning)

    jeff
  • Listen! (Score:4, Funny)

    by JanusFury (452699) <kevin.gadd@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:40AM (#5229882) Homepage Journal
    Listen to your Game Boy Advance...

    It's trying to tell you something...

    Listen closely and you can hear it...

    It's saying:
    "You were actually stupid enough to buy an MP3 player addon for your gameboy? Hah!"
  • by farfisa69 (526335) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:58AM (#5229946) Homepage

    Does anyone remember the songboy [slashdot.org] ?

  • Consider this from the article:

    "The compression/decompression algorithms are stored on the media, not in the adapter, and will take up some of the space on the cards."

    And how long will it take a crafty GBA coder to write a fake codec that will kill the audio loader and load up a homebrewed rom off of a SmartMedia card? If you're exposing the loading process to a very easily writable media, then those are the risks.

    Other interesting applications exist that don't right now on the GBA for things like photo albums and the like, because of the removable media.

    It'll be interesting to see what exactly is used (if any) for "copy protection", especially considering the media. It won't ever be a great PDA (limitedness of input, etc), but it might be a fun gadget for a different market.
    --[jaybonci]
  • by DrXym (126579) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @08:14AM (#5230347)
    Someone is releasing a music player that in combination with a GBA is much more expensive than an off-the-shelf MP3 player, uses a proprietary format, has copy protection, has a diabolical reflective screen and is as easy to stick in your pocket as a very large lumpy thing.


    It's destined to join the Gameboy camera in the worse than fucking useless pantheon of add-ons for the Gameboy.

  • PDA (click bottom link, they check referrers) [emulationzone.org]-like [epinions.com] utilities [ebay.com] and audio players [lik-sang.com] have existed for years. This isn't exactly killer app territory.

    (Yes, that WB pic is a horridly fake-looking mockup, but it's the best I can do without going 2 hours from here, digging through old NPs, and scanning the -official- fake-looking mockup.)
  • I read the artical... but I don't remember seeing "PDA" there anywhere.... ...now if you had said "MP3" market I could understand....
  • ... me bringing the gameboy back into the meeting room. After last time, I don't think the fact that it can do PDA functions is going to keep him from flying off the handle.

    I'll just have to stick with playing games on my PDA... he think's I'm sooo productive then.
  • The compression/decompression algorithms are stored on the media, not in the adapter,...

    They're putting executable code on the media? This sounds like a promising virus propagation vector.
  • From the translation of the overview listed on the manufacturer's website [excite.co.jp] it is immediately clear what this device is for. See the quote below.
    On printing a popular character on a skeleton body, SmartMedia is again born on a media card with familiarity. By this character SmartMedia, deployment of the limited article with which a media card is connected with a character to contents is created. Moreover, the possibility as a promotion youth of institutional advertising or an event is also investigated.
  • I find this all very intersting that Nintendo is trying to turn the GBA into a PDA when someone else has already done it.

    Enter, the Songpro [songpro.com]
    It was released a few years ago on the original Gameboy and piggy backed off of the unit to play MP3s and display song titles and lyrics on the screen, but an improved version has come out on the GBA. I have listened to one of these units, they use Sandisk media and will accomodate up to the full 512mb cards.

    I attended an African American Technology fair and was able to try out one of these units. I witnessed FMV on the GBA, MP3 music and lyrics, an odd form of e-book that contained biblical scriptures, and a digital stamp collection. The engineers behind this tech were light on details when I questioned them, but he did mention that the unit has its own DSP for sound and some video, and that some of the the work is done by the GBA's own processor. It apparently is written in ARM C ,but that was all he would mention. If some research is done, recall that in a previous life, this device was called the Songboy and Nintendo [nintendo.com] sued [ybfree.com]. With the help of jesse jackson they were able to get out of this jam and market a wonderful product. IT may not be a full PDA, but it is cheap and will turn the GBA into a cheap IPOD with a large enough Sandisk.

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