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Hardware Review: Kemco GBA MP3 Player

Posted on Thu, Apr 22, 2004

Every once and a while Nintendo dishes out an innovative piece of hardware that only those fortunate enough to live in Japan are able to enjoy. Fortunately for us, the GBA Music Recorder MP3 player is available on multiple websites for a reasonable price. This astounding Game Boy peripheral will have anyone jammin' to their favorite songs, using their favorite portable.

Kemcoís mp3 player, that hit Japanese shelves over a year ago in í03, is one of the most innovative pieces of hardware that has ever been released for the Game Boy. Obviously, this cool gadget will play your standard mp3 and wav files, like any other self-respecting portable audio device. However, the separating aspect of this baby would be the included karaoke feature, along with built-in microphone. For the sake of clarity, the karaoke addition allows you to digitally erase the lyrical part of any song, that is to say, ďit gets rid of the words.Ē This is such a nifty attribute of the device and a major selling point to consumers. So how well does it work? Well, let me put it this way: In some songs, the voices with be muffled, or delayed, or perhaps even untouched, while the background music is warped. However, in a good number of other songs, the mp3 player does the job flawlessly, allowing you to listen to your favorite songs without words.

Along with erasing the words, the built in microphone enables you to record over the erased track and, in fact, listen to your own horrid voice rather than the intended professionalís. If recording over songs isnít your bag, however, you can just plainly record audio using the included microphone. But they donít call this bad boy the ďGBA Music RecorderĒ for nothiní: Yet another ingenious inclusion is a line-in jack that letís you record from anything with a headphone or line-out jack. Of course, included in the package is a double-male audio cable for doing just that. On the downside of that, the files you record using the mp3 player are written in a ď.GB3Ē format, which can not be read by computers.

There are many different options and settings to mess with when youíre playing music. You can choose from five different pre-set equalizer settings, three playback methods (which include normal play, repeat, and shuffle), and various visual settings. Itís also possible to even change the background of the screen to suit your mood. Also, when your music is playing, the screen acts as a visual-pleasing equalizer, which comes in three different styles. Of course, since this is an import, all of the in-depth options are in Japanese, but the appliance is so easy to work with that youíll never even need to open the options menu.

While there are all these amazing aspects of this mp3 player, there are still some simple features that were left out of this device. Unfortunately, itís impossible to fast-forward or rewind in the middle of a track, as well as pause (when the device is connected to the GBA). This can get annoying sometimes, but when you think about it, most of the time youíre not skipping through tracks anyway. Personally, I hardly notice the absence of those standard controls.

Unlike many other mp3 players on the market, this one does not include built-in memory, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing. On one hand, it allows you to expand your space infinitely, as long as youíre willing to buy more cards, but there, of course, is the aspect of having to buy those cards in the first place. The popular Compact Flash cards are the type of memory chips it uses, which works splendidly. It should be noted that a rather small 8mb card is included in the box. Although youíll be shelling out money for not only an extra card or two, but a Compact Flash card reader for the computer, itís well worth it in the end.

If youíre the type of person who likes his mp3 players slim and small, or doesnít care about shiny visuals, then youíll be relieved to know that Kemcoís Music Recorder does not need to be connected to your GBA to play music. Thatís right, itíll act as a standalone player (which, ironically enough, includes the pause feature the GBA controlís doesnít). And weíre not living in the stone-age with this thing, either, because it will perfectly connect with any GBA SP as well as the older Game Boy Advance. I must say that it makes my SP look really cool when itís plugged in.

Included in the packaging is also a set of extremely high-quality ear bud headphones, along with a AA battery. At first thought, it might seem like one single AA battery wouldnít go very far with this machine, but surprisingly enough, it lasts a very long time. I highly recommend that anyone who buys this should also consider purchasing rechargeable batteries, because itíll become second-nature to pop the battery out of your mp3 player and charge it when you plug your GBA SP in to charge. This can also save you a lot of money in the long run if youíre a huge audio-nut.

In short, the Kemco GBA Music Recorder MP3 player is a must-have for anyone who has no mp3 player already and carries their GBA everywhere they go. At the ordinary price of $89, itís a great addition to your Game Boy hardware collection, and with all of the spiffy features, you might as well invest in one.

Review Scores:

Usability: 8.5
Features: 8.5
Extras: 9.0
Affordability: 8.0
Overall: 9.2

Posted By: Dacvak - 3508 Reads

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