December 16th, 2004, 11:04
Less than a week after Sony's launch of the PlayStation Portable in Japan, Nintendo has announced that it will release a new adaptor for the Game Boy Advance SP and Nintendo DS. Tentatively named Play-yan, the adaptor will allow the handhelds to play back MPEG-4 video and MP3 audio files like, much like the PSP. No date or price has been officially set, but Nintendo is looking at a release date in mid-February and a price range near 5,000 yen ($48). [br][br][br]Nintendo's Play-yan will use an SD card instead of a Memory Stick Duo, like the PSP. While the released designs of Play-yan aren't set in stone, the adaptor at the current time seems to be about the same shape and size as a GBA cartridge. The SD card will snap into the side of the Play-yan, making it irremovable as long as the Play-yan is firmly set in the handheld's cartridge slot. Because the Play-yan doesn't come with any PC connectivity, owners will need an SD Card writer/reader to record data from a PC. [br][br]Play-yan will run on the GBA SP, but it won't be compliant with the standard GBA. The Play-yan can connect to the DS through its GBA cartridge slot, and will be displayed in GBA resolution on either the top or the bottom screen. The Play-yan can run up to 4 hours when playing back movies, and 15 hours or 8 hours for music, depending on whether the LCD screen is turned on or off through the adaptor's menu options. [br][br]According to Japanese gaming Web site Impress Gamewatch, Play-yan features a Broadcom (Alphamosaic) VC01PXX-ES2 as its hardware decoder. The decoder allows the playback of ASF format Mpeg-4 files with support of resolutions up to CIF(320 x 240), and bit-rates up to 1.5Mbps. There will also be a mode for recording 2 hours of Mpeg-4 on a 256MB SD card. However, the audio will be monaural when playing back Mpeg-4 files. [br][br]The Play-yan will also support SD-Video format, which means that users with hybrid digital recorders such as those from Panasonic (FMR-E500H, DMR-E200H, DMR-E100H) can record a movie onto an SD Card with the digital recorder and play it back on the fly with their GBA SP or DS. Play-yan doesn't support SD-Video in extra fine mode (320 x 240 / 30fps), but it can play back ASF format MPEG-4 of the same quality. In addition, Play-yan also supports movies that are created on PCs by Fujitsu and Hitachi that come installed with Panasonic's MediaStage application. [br][br]The movies in the SD card will be selectable for playback through animated thumbnails displayed on the screen giving the user convenient checkup over their movies. Fast forwarding and rewinding is done with the directional pad's left and right keys, and holding on to them will increase the speed. The L and R buttons allows the user to change the brightness of the screen in four different levels. [br][br]The Play-yan supports VBR and allows playback of MP3 files with bit-rates between 32-320kbps. Play-yan features folders similar to the PSP, meaning that the user can separate tracks into different categories for playback. The adaptor will also support ID3 tags and Japanese text for its track titles and artist names. The playback functions for MP3 files, such as shuffling, are still in the works. The Play-yan comes with its own mini stereo plug on its end, allowing users to directly listen to audio that hasn't passed through the GBA SP or DS hardware. [br][br]Nintendo currently only plans to sell the Play-yan though its official Web site. The company will begin taking pre-orders in mid-January and expects to ship Play-yan a month later. Currently, there are no plans to sell the adaptor in North America. More details on Play-yan will be disclosed when Nintendo begins taking pre-orders for the adaptor.