Nintendo Japan taking DS, GBA multimedia adapter preorders

Play-Yan's Web-only sales begin next month; the peripheral will play MPEG-4 movies and MP3 music files.

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TOKYO--Nintendo has begun accepting preorders for the Play-Yan, a peripheral that makes it possible to play MP3 and MPEG-4 files on the DS and the Game Boy Advance SP. The Play-Yan will go on sale February 21, and is offered both by itself for 5,000 yen ($49) or bundled with MediaStage 4.2 software for 6,000 yen ($59). The peripheral will be available only through Nintendo's Japanese-language Web site.

MediaStage is a Panasonic-made Windows application that lets users encode movies for the Play-Yan, manage files, and play them on a PC. However, it requires Windows XP Professional SP1 or Home Edition SP1 or higher. MediaStage does not encode MP3 files.

Unlike the PSP, the Play-Yan doesn't come with a direct connection to a PC. Playing media files on the DS or GBA SP will be a two-step process: first downloading the data to an SD card (which must be purchased separately) from a PC, and second inserting the SD card into the Play-Yan and snapping the Play-Yan into the handheld's cartridge slot.

The Play-Yan allows users to select a movie from a list of thumbnails. When playing music, it offers a shuffle mode and a repeat mode to loop a single track or all the tracks, plus configurable bass and surround sound. Also, songs can be organized into folders. One thing that the Play-Yan doesn't support is still images, so putting JPEG files onto the SD card won't do any good.

On the GBA SP, the Play-Yan can play up to four hours of movies or 16 hours of music (when running on earphones). On the DS, it can play five hours of movies or 20 hours of music with earphones. The GBA SP will play music files in mono on its internal speakers, while the DS's internal speakers will play files in stereo. Using the earphones--which Nintendo suggests, since the Play-Yan is designed for that--will allow stereo playback on both the GBA SP and DS. Movie files will play only in mono sound for both handhelds. Also, the Play-Yan won't work with the classic GBA.

Nintendo first announced its Play-Yan plans a month ago, just one week after Sony launched its PSP in Japan.

The full specifications for Nintendo's Play-Yan are as follows:

Name: Play-Yan (Model AGS-006)
Size: 58.5mm x 43.4mm x 11mm
Weight: 16 grams
Media: SD Memory Card (64MB to 1GB)
Headphone output: Stereo Minijack
Battery Life, GBA SP: Movie - 4 hours; Audio - 16 hours*
Battery Life, DS: Movie - 5 hours; Audio - 20 hours *
* Battery life calculated with use of earphones; may differ depending on environment and SD card.

Compatible Files:
Video
File Format: ASF (SD-VIDEO Standard)
Video Format: MPEG-4 Video
Screen Resolution: 128x96 (Sub-QCIF), 176x144 (QCIF), 240x176, 320x240 (QVGA), 352x288 (CIF)
Bit Rate: 64kbps to 1Mbps
Frame Rate: 6fps to 30fps
Sound Format: Bit rate - 32kbps; Sampling rate - 8kHz

Audio
File Format: MP3 (MPEG1 Layer-3)
Bit Rate: 32kbps, 40kbps, 48kbps, 56kbps, 64kbps, 80kbps, 96kbps, 112kbps, 128kbps, 160kbps, 192kbps, 224kbps, 256kbps, 320kbps, CBR, VBR, ABR
Sampling Frequency: 32KHz, 44.1KHz, 48KHz
ID3 Tag: v1, v1.1, v2, v1/v2 mixed, v1.1/v2 mixed

Examples of Recordable Length on a 512MB SD Card:
Movie Recorded on a DIGA DVD recorder:
Superfine Mode (320x240, 15fps), 1050kbps: Approximately 1 hour
Fine Mode (320x240, 12fps), 430kbps: Approximately 2.5 hours
Normal Mode (176x144, 12fps), 300kbps: Approximately 3.5 hours
Economy Mode (176x144, 6fps), 100kbps: Approximately 11 hours

Movie Recorded on a PC Using MediaStage:
512kbps 240x176 (30fps): Approximately 2 hours
384kbps 240x176 (30fps): Approximately 3 hours
256kbps 240x176 (15fps): Approximately 4 hours

Audio:
128kbps: Approximately 9 hours (accomodates about 170 three-minute songs)

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