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Game Boy Advance SP (backlit)
  opened by paleface at 21:30:06 09/23/05  
  last modified by paleface at 21:51:07 09/24/05  
  paleface [sys=GBA; cat=Hardware; loc=NA]
Nintendo pulled a surprise--maybe even partly on themselves--by releasing an upgraded version of the GBA:SP years after the original, and at a point (this past week) that by most estimates was pretty late in the system's life. But that life may just have been extended.
The original GBA:SP (see entry 899) made big steps in having a front-lit screen, but the screen was not what you would call brilliant--nice, but sort of tinted blue, capable of getting washed out by strong ambient light, and without really vivid colors.
But the two new colors of SP released this past week, with no fanfare at all, not even in Japan (I don't think they've been released in Japan as of yet, in fact), are sporting screens lit up very brightly--about as bright as Nintendo's also just-released (in Japan--but pushed back in the States, and I think now we know why) Game Boy micro (see entry 907), or Sony's PSP.
The screen remains the exact same size as the old GBA:SP, but the vast increase in brightness makes it easy to see what used to be even the dimmest GBA games. In fact, for some it's almost too bright, since GBA developers have had to tweak their color palettes to come out as bright as possible on the dimmer screens. So now you'll get blown-out, oversaturated colors in a lot of games.
To compensate for this a bit, the little button just below the screen has modified functionality; instead of turning the light on/off, as in the original GBA:SP, it now toggles between two levels of illumination, defaulting to the dimmer one. I wish it defaulted to the brighter one, 'cause really, who wants to play with the dimmer bulb, even if some colors are blown out? Give me light!
I'm not sure how the power consumption of the new screen stacks up, but I haven't heard that it's a battery charge killer. This new model is also markedly heavier than the old SP, and it seems likely that the increased weight comes from the new screen and, possible, a beefier battery.
The new model also comes with a slightly slimmer AC adapter--I've heard someone say that it's the same as comes with the DS (see entry 776).
This new version constitutes a major event for SP fans. The GBA's screen now beats that of the micro and the DS (the DS's is the same size, but not quite so bright), and isn't completely overwhelmed by the PSP's big, bright screen. I have a feeling that the new SP will pretty much kill any success the micro might have had in the States, but it should give new legs to Nintendo's old 2D powerhouse, and allow them to hold off on making a new Game Boy for that much longer.
  paleface 03:45:26 09/24/05
NeoGutsman reports that the battery is identical to the original GBA:SP battery, so the additional weight must lie elsewhere...
  paleface 21:51:07 09/24/05
Comic-Kaze informs us that battery life with the screen on the bright setting was for him seven hours, three less than the original GBA:SP's ten.
· Game Boy Advance SP (GBA)
· Game Boy micro (GBA)
· PlayStation Portable (PSP)

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