entertainment/gameboyadvance.jpgThe SP stands for Special and the Game Boy Advance SP certainly is. The Game Boy Advance SP is extremely well designed. At only 3.3 by 3.2 by 1.0 inches (HWD) and weighing just 3.8 ounces (4.1 with the cartridge), the small square case looks good yet feels substantial and holds up to rugged use.

My cobalt Game Boy is a clear blue color that looks vivid but somewhat serious. More subdued choices include onyx and platinum while the red/orange flame color is quite flashy. The hinged cover keeps the screen from being scratched and lets the unit slide effortlessly into a pocket, pouch, or bag.

This new system is about one-third the size of the original Game Boy Advanced. It keeps all the Game Boy functionality while making several improvements. The SP performs better than you might expect from its minuscule size. The screen at 1.6 by 2.4 inches is exactly the same size as the previous, larger Game Boy. The screen is clear and the new Front Screen lighting, which can be turned on or off, make the gaming unit playable in just about any brightness conditions. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery charges in about 3 to 4 hours and the charge lasts from 10-18 hours, depending on how much you use the light. Estimated battery life is three years (roughly 500 charges). It is obvious that the Game Boy designers paid attention to details. When you plug in the included power adapter to recharge the built-in battery, you will find that the prongs fold in for easier storage and it weights only two-tenths of a pound.

All of the buttons are positioned logically and are comfortable to use. Even my over-6-foot son-in-law felt that the unit was comfortable for his somewhat over-sized hands. Users of previous Game Boys will rejoice in the fact that the speaker is now in the center of the unit, so it is not covered by your hand when you play. The volume control can be used to increase/decrease the volume. Headphones can be added, but unfortunately they require a dongle that must be purchased separately.

The SP is compatible with all the older Game Boy games making a large corral of compatible games. There are more than 1,300 Game Boy titles available and there is an additional Game Boy Advance-specific library of about 500 titles.

Since its inception in 1989, Nintendo's Game Boy line has sold more than 150 million units and more than one-half billion games worldwide. In the first ten weeks following its introduction, more than 1.1 million units of this new self-lit, flip-top portable unit have sold in America. So new game titles should continue to be plentiful.

The Game Boy Advance SP is surprisingly expandable. With an optional adapter cable many software titles link play between Game Boy Advance and Nintendo GameCube. An e-Reader can also be purchased separately enabling the SP to read the optical data on paper trading cards    You can store scanned video games in the e-Reader to play later. The cards also enhance game play and unlock features in existing Nintendo GameCube games.

If you enjoy playing games, you will love the SP. Its sleek look and small package will even allow you to play in public places while others think you are working on your PDA. Get the kids get their own, but keep the first one for yourself.


Manufacturer:  Nintendo

Price:  $99