I'm always searching for the latest gadgets and game accessories. Be they from third party manufacturers or from the system creators themselves. But I have to admit that when I first heard about Nintendo's Movie Player add on for the Nintendo DS, I was very surprised.
The reason for my surprise was quite simple. You see, I've been watching movies on my Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, well, since their release date, with a really fantastic little accessory called the NDS / GBA Movie player.
After doing some searching on Google, I am equally surprised that more Nintendo DS (or Game Boy Advance) owners have not heard of this truly unexampled accessory for their Nintendo DS. It seems that perhaps with all the hype around the Sony PSP and it's movie playing capabilities, we've all neglected to take a look at the less expensive Nintendo DS as anything other than a handheld game system.
What really made this accessory a must buy for myself, was the fact that in addition to movies, I was also able to listen to my MP3 music on my Nintendo DS too - just like Sony PSP owners can. I won't go into the debate as to which handheld system is better, or offers more... That's would negate the real reason for this article, which is simply to show Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance owners that their fun little handheld game system is capable of playing all types of media files too.
The GBA/NDS Movie Player enables you to use your Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Advance SP, or Game Boy Micro to play video and audio files and read e-books from standard Compact Flash cards. And before you think that you'll only be able to watch movie clips or short films, let me be clear in stating that you can watch an entire full length movie with the Movie Player. You can use your PC and a normal Compact Flash card reader to transfer and convert your media files to the Compact Flash cards. The included software even converts files directly from DVD to the proper movie Player format.
And before you think that it'll take a rocket scientist to convert their DVD movie to the proper file type - think again! The software is so very easy to use, that it requires you to do nothing more than insert the DVD movie you wish to convert, or the digital file if you have it. While this is not any special format so to speak, as the UMD movie discs are for Sony PSP. You can actually take any DVD movie you own, and convert it with the included software to be played back on your Nintendo DS system. What this means is that you're not stuck buying multiple versions of the same movie to watch that movie on the go.
One of the most common question that I'm asked is whether or not the movie player can actually store and play back a full length movie from a compact flash card. I can completely understand why this would be confusing. I mean, let's face it, DVD movies are several GIGABYTES in size, how could these possibly fit on a small 256 Megabyte CF card.
I always answer that question with the very same answer. It can play full length movies just fine. But in case you're wondering just how that may be possible, let me explain. It has a lot to do with the screen size of the GBA and Nintendo DS. Because the screen is much smaller, the file size of the full length movie can be much smaller too, simply because it does not have to maintain a very high resolution the same way it would if you were to watch that movie on your TV set. In essence, it "down converts" the DVD movie, to make it fit right onto the GBA or Nintendo DS screen, otherwise you would have to scrool left to right and up and down in order to see the whole video.
For those of you wondering just how how big your Compact Flash card has to be to enjoy a full movie, here's a breakdown of the amount of video you can store on common compact flash card sizes. And I have to remind you to take into consideration that most movies are no more than 95 - 110 minutes long. This will give you a real indication of just how much you can stare on each card.
The following is a list of the amount of storage you can have on various compact flash cards. 960 minutes on a 1GB Compact Flash, 480 minutes on a 512MB Compact Flash, 240 minutes on a 256MB Compact Flash, and 120 minutes on a 128MB Compact Flash. As you can see, even a 128M compact flash card is adequate to store a full length movie.
In order to watch a movie on the GBA Movie Player, you'll first have to use your PC to convert the DVD movie to the proper file format for the player itself. This can be done quite easily with the included software that comes with the GBA Movie Player itself. And don't forget. You can do a whole lot more than just watch movies. You can actually listen to MP3 music, read e-books, and even load PDA type software onto the Compact Flash card which will essentially turn your Nintendo DS into a very functional PDA.
Rather than waiting for the Nintendo DS movie player, which will be released sometime next year by Nintendo themselves, I would urge all NDS owners to take a look at the GBA/NDS Movie Player. It's packed with functions and features, and has a price that simply can't be beat. Even when adding up the cost of a Nintendo DS and the Movie Player, you'll find that you're still at par, or cheaper than most good quality portable DVD players.
And let's face it, you simply can't put a portable DVD player in your pocket, or have it play the latest Mario game either.