Help me turn my DS into a video iPod.
May 3, 2006 4:45 PM   Subscribe

I have a Nintendo DS. I want to be able to watch videos on it. What is the easiest and cheapest way to do this?

I've recently started to covet a video iPod, but I already have a perfectly functional older iPod. I do, however, have a DS. I've seen adapters to allow the DS to play videos off of an SD card. However, these seem to mostly have complicated interfaces, require proprietary software and must be imported, which tends to make them expensive. What are the most used and most reliable devices like this out there? I don't really want to spend more than 30 or 40 bucks on something like this (I know the SD cards will also cost). Are there places I can buy them in the US? Alternatively, are there other options out there? If Nintendo is planning to release something like this soon themselves, I'd just as soon pass on the third party option.
posted by MadamM to Technology (9 answers total)
The M3 adapter will do this. However it costs $80 + a memory card. You will also need to use a PassMe2 to flash your firmware. (another $20)
posted by reverendX at 5:12 PM on May 3, 2006

Unfortunately, besides the M3 movie player (which I don't know much about), is to get a flash cart for the DS (I recommend the SuperCard miniSD as it doesn't stick out of the bottom of your DS) and view videos and listen to MP3s using MoonShell.

In addition to buying a flash cart you also need to find some method of getting around the DS's copy protection so that you can patch the firmware in order to run homebrew software (and pirated games *cough*) out of the GBA port. You can find more information on that whole process here. The short version is: if you have a friend who is already running homebrew, chances are they can get you patched, if you have a compatiable wifi card, you can use that to patch your DS, or you can plop down $20 for a special device at the same place you buy your flash card that will allow you to patch your DS.

The "unfortunately" part comes in that Moonshell's video player 1) only plays mpeg-1 videos 2) with mpeg 1 layer 2 audio 3) in a special container format that does a really poor job with video/audio synchronization and 4) is so poorly optimized that you can only really watch 12fps video on it, and that's on a good day.

I could give you good odds that this situation will improve in the future, as the DS development community is still vibrant and active, but I can't guarantee it.

I doubt that Nintendo is planning on releasing a video player in the US or even Japan. It just doesn't seem like their style to me.
posted by zixyer at 5:20 PM on May 3, 2006

Best answer: Apart from the whole firmware-flashing business that reverendx and zixyer mentioned, there's no way to run video that'll fill the screen, or use both screens for controls or whatever, but you can get video playing - you're effectively limited to using a bit of hardware designed to play movies on a GBA, which'll work since the DS is compatible with GBA games but which means you'll only get the GBA's resolution in a window on one DS screen (as you would when playing a GBA game on it).

Nintendo released their own hardware for this, the Play-Yan, but only in Japan, and to be honest the thing's overpriced and limited. The alternative is a generic third-party cartridge like this, which'll be the sort of thing you've already seen and for which you'll also need an SD card to store the movies on. I'm not in the US myself, so I've not a clue about local stockists, but ordering from somewhere like Lik-Sang or Play-Asia shouldn't make things any more than a few dollars more expensive.

Nintendo definitely haven't announced or hinted at any kind of DS video player - there's a TV tuner and web browser coming out in Japan at some point, but apart from those they've stuck pretty firmly to the DS being intended for games only, which is a pain, since the hardware's more than capable of playing back video.
posted by terpsichoria at 5:32 PM on May 3, 2006

I probably should've been a bit clearer there - I'd definitely recommend the SD card movie player (the 'this' link in my other comment) over any other means of getting video on a DS - it's limited to a low resolution, but for ease of use (you just plug it in and go) and low cost of the hardware itself and SD cards these days, it's certainly worth a try. It's a shame that it's so hard to get decent movie playback on a DS, but if you're interested I'd say that's probably the best way to go.
posted by terpsichoria at 5:37 PM on May 3, 2006

Response by poster: Oh wow. That movie player looks almost too good to be true... I just wish I could see some shots of the interface.
posted by MadamM at 6:05 PM on May 3, 2006

If you find anything on that front MadamM, please post them here. I'm interested, too.
posted by jaysus chris at 6:33 PM on May 3, 2006

Has anyone gotten MAME ported to a homebrew-running DS?
posted by mathowie at 7:43 PM on May 3, 2006

May I present to you the DS MAX 4GB Hard Drive with media player. The hard drive plugs in via the GBA port, the media player cartridge plugs in via the DS cartridge slot, and you control playback using the stylus.

I want one bad.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:02 PM on May 3, 2006

I use the Movie Advance, easily imported from lik-sang. Their latest firmware update even includes support for playing original NES games, a music player & a ebook reader. I have the first revision, which is ugly-large, and requires a GBA game plugged into it's passthrough port to get past nintendo's anti-homebrew features. I think the newer version may get around that somehow. It certainly looks smaller. They make CF and SD versions, and include the conversion software.
posted by nomisxid at 11:08 AM on May 4, 2006

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