M3 Adapter [SD Version] Review
The following review is of the M3 Adapter [SD Version]'s NDS capabilites only and does not review the GBA compatibility yet
Note: Pictures included at bottom of guide for your viewing pleasure!
[What you get]
1) M3 Adapter (SD Version)
2) Passkey Device (Passkey 2 can be ordered for a slightly higher price if your NDS requires Passkey 2, mine did not)
3) CD which contains conversion software
Overall Price: around 90$
[What you need to run homebrew]
1) SD (Secure Digital) of any format. I use a 1gb Kingston (50$)
2) Nintendo Dual Screen System (NDS) (130$)
3) Retail Game (Metroid Prime Demo works fine) (free/30$)
4) SD Card Reader (varies in price, 12-format reader: 20$)
If you do not own any of the above materials, including NDS, card reader, 1gb SD card, retail game/free demo game, and m3 adapter w/passkey
W/ Free Demo: 320$
W/ Retail Game: 350$
If you own a NDS and retail game and/or demo game
If you own a NDS, retail game and/or demo with a SD card Reader
If you own a NDS, retail game and/or demo with a SD card Reader and a SD card
All of the above estimates are estimates that do not include tax and/or shipping charges. I choose the most likely required elements for new starters and calculated the price. I suggest buying a 1gb Kingston SD card (Newegg.com/tigerdirect.com) and a nice card reader (any will do)
Upon opening the package in the mail, I found two boxes. One was the passkey device (bundled with M3 Adapter at Divineo) and the other was the M3 SD Adapter itself. When I opened the M3 Adapter box, I found the adapter with no instructions/documentation. The only documentation of the product could be found on the box, and no where else. So, I inserted my card into the slot on the device and it went in perfectly. At first I placed the cartridge face side up (sticker side), but that did not work, so I flipped it around, inserted it and it went in like any old gba game. The device sticks out of the NDS about 1cm. This is much smaller than the CF version of the adapter, so that is a plus :)
The software CD (mini-CD) that was inserted with the M3 package was a simple burned CD which contained all of the conversion software needed to convert Videos, Pictures, Music, and Games to the SD card.
In the Passkey box, I found the Passkey (1) device. This was my first time seeing the device and was rather impressed by its proffesional look. On it, it contained a switch so you could switch between Passkey (M3 Adapter boot on startup) or Cart (which would boot up the device regularly). When I inserted my NDS game into the Passkey's cart slot it went in smoothly and felt perfect. Upon inserting it into my NDS I found that it operated the same as an NDS game, which was nice. When I tried to take it out..I couldn't. I tried applying force but I almost felt like I was going to break it. So, I gave it one big tug (after clicking it out once, it doesn't come out all the way, so you have to tug) and then it came out. After you get it out once, it is a sinch to get out.
[Bundled Software and M3 Software]
In order to play anything on the M3 Adpater, one must convert it first. I find this very annoying when trying to convert videos as there is no other way to play videos on the NDS besides converting. When you install everything (pretty fast) you end up with a movie converter (2 differnt ones), a music converter, image and DVD converter, along with the mother of them all: The Game Manager!
The Video converter comes in two "styles" a guided version (much easier to follow) and then the straight, down to the chase version. Both of these work the same way, but the guide version is much easier to follow for those "newbies". When you convert a video it takes some time (like all other video converters) and when it finishes I got an error! Well..luckily the error meant nothing in the end, the files were saved to the specified directory. When converted, it was converted into two files .gbm and .gbs, both of which need each other to run correctly on your NDS. So, I moved the files to the SD Card via my card reader, ran the M3 Adapter, went to movie, ran the movie and found out that: The sound is horrible and the video quality is as good as one might expect. So in otherwords: The NDS is not meant to be a video player!
The Music Converter converts .mp3 files (and other audio files) to .gba format. These files can than be placed on your card and run from the M3 Adapter. The music player is very basic and has limited functions. I played a few songs and they sounded alright, but they were not as high quality as MP3 files are. When you shut the lid the screen does not turn off thus wasting more battery, while a few good MP3 HOmebrew players offer both a better quality and have this "screen toggle" feature. I suggest grabbing Moonshell (M3 SD Version) off of the M3 adapter website [Click Here to download] This is a home-made MP3 player for the NDS system which can be transfered to the NDS and played under the Games section of the M3 Adapter. So in the end, the M3 Adapter's built-in audio player is bad..but you can always download Moonshell and play mp3 files perfectly on it, so no loss there :)
The Game Manager is what the whole M3 Adapter is about. This allows you to patch the .nds and .gba files that you have downloaded and play them on the M3-Adapter. The whole point of this device (M3 Adapter) is to play .nds files and .gba files, so how does it do? In my opinion, this is the best for playing .nds and .gba files. The Game Manager is very user friendly, and has various options for transfering to the SD card. I myself utilize the options: No Trim and Fast Boot Mode to convert the files/transfer them. The conversion and transfering of the files are done at the same time (no real conversion needed, just patches the files and creates a save file). The transfer is very quick (few minutes per file) and can allow multiple files at once to transfer.
So far, this has gone off without a bump. I tested 30+ NDS games and they all worked. (some games require differnt transfer modes, but in the end, I think all games work with the SD version).
When you start the M3 Adapter on your NDS you can select Game-->Game Title and then Click A to run it, then you are prompted to select a save file to choose from to load (it allows multiple save files per game :) ). After you shut off the NDS console/save the game and run the adapter back up on your NDS you see a screen in which your save file is backed up on your SD card automatically! (If it does not, it is a simple autosave option in the setup menu!).
M3 Adapter NDS mode
This is simply the "OS" you see and move through when you run the device. This is easy to navigate, and skinnalbe! Although a few other flash carts have more impressive "OS"s , the M3's does its job!
This is the strongest part of this device. The Compatibility of GBA games is 100% with the newest game manager and close to 100% with NDS games (all run). This is the greatest part of this device as it runs all backup files smoothly with no slowdown at all.
The only issue with the M3 Adapter is that you can't simply copy and paste your files onto your SD cart, but you have to use the Game Manager software to install .nds and .gba files. Another issue is the current compatibility with homebrew. From the latest reports (might change in near future), Rain does not work on M3 SD (Retail Save Game Backup Utility). The author is currently working on it, and if a new version isn't out soon, there will be! So, the M3 Adapter will almost be perfect!
In the end, the M3 Adpater (SD Version) is a great buy for anyone who wishes to enter the homebrew scene (whether it be GBA or NDS). The compatibility is great, almost perfect, and the software is rather easy to use.
The only issue is the Passkey device which sticks out of the top of your NDS. This has proved to be a real hassle as I could not put it into my pocket without the cartridge popping out So, a simple solution, but rather risky is available: Flash your NDS Firmware! (Yes, the NDS has firmware). With my Flashme guide, you can now eliminate the need for your passkey device, and the only device you need is your M3 Adapter to run homebrew :) Visit the guide:
- Easy to use
- Expansion (memory card)
- Customizable look (skinnable interface)
- Sticks out of NDS
- Game conversions can get annoying at times
- Requires a card reader that is not included
- No documentation with device, but a little on m3-forum.com
Update: GBA mode fails with many SD cards!!! My SD card does not work in GBA mode yet and M3 people just don't quite seem to understand why, so it may be a while before we see an update which fixes this!
Overall (NDS Rating): 9.5/10
This is a great product and I am 100% satisifed with my purchase. With constant updates (2 since I bought it in under a month), I'm happy with the service :)