EWin2 Review

Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by Darkforce, Oct 5, 2006.

Oct 5, 2006

EWin2 Review by Darkforce at 7:41 PM (28,086 Views / 0 Likes) 0 replies

  1. Darkforce
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    Former Staff Darkforce DERP!

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    GBAtemp.net review of the...
    EWin2 [​IMG]

    Supplied by Shop @ 01 media
    Manufactured by: www.ewin2.net


    By Darkforce - 5th October 2006

    Introduction

    The EWin name may not be recognizable to many - their original series of GBA flash carts were good solid carts (Opiums review is available here) but few shops outside China stocked them. This didn't deter the manufacturers however as they've come back with the EWin2; a range of GBA cart based solutions for the DS market. Thankfully availability outside Asia is a lot better this time round and the EWin2 is available in 3 different varieties SD, Mini-SD and Micro-SD:

    [​IMG]

    Features of the EWin2:
    • Professional build quality
    • Optimal shape design
    • User friendly interface
    • Excellent compatibility with NDS games
    • Supports FAT16/32 File System
    • High-speed data transfer technology
    • Auto save management system
    Note: The review is based on the Mini-SD version of the EWin2, however all 3 carts perform the same, use the same software and have the same compatibility.


    Packaging & Contents

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    The EWin2 arrived in a pretty flimsy cardboard box, I guess they spent most of the packaging budget putting that foil logo on the front! However everything arrived okay and besides it's what’s inside that counts right?

    The package contains the EWin2 cart itself and well that's it, some software would have been nice but then if you don't have an internet connection you wouldn't be here reading this ha. I'll come back to the software later.


    Hardware

    The EWin2 is available in 3 varieties:
    • SD
    • Mini-SD
    • Micro-SD (TransFlash)
    The Micro-SD version will only fit a DS Lite, unfortunately it is not dust cover sized and sticks out by about 7mm. It is front loading and as far as I know available in White, Ice Blue and Black colors:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    The Mini-SD version is the same size as a GBA cart and SuperCard Mini-SD; fits flush with the DS and sticks out of a DS Lite by 10mm. It is front loading and the one I received came in a translucent grey color however I have seen images of it in both translucent blue and clear as well:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    The SD version is slightly bigger than a GBA cart and sticks out of a DS Lite by about 20mm. It is side loading and like the Mini-SD comes in a translucent grey color:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    The first thing that struck me about the EWin2 is how it looks pretty similar to a SuperCard - translucent plastic, front loading media card (side loading for full sized SD) and whatnot, but the cart is far from a cheap SuperCard clone. Internally components are in slightly different places and surprisingly the build quality of the EWin2 is fantastic, much better than the SuperCard; the plastic seems thick and sturdy, the cart doesn’t creak and has been molded very well. Not a bad start considering the EWin2 are the cheapest carts on the market.


    Using the EWin2

    As I mentioned towards the beginning of the review the cart doesn't come with any software on disc so it's off to find some! Can't be too hard right? Well since no address was mentioned on the packaging a quick google soon found it for me - www.ewinflash.cn. Unfortunately the site is in Chinese and this is the carts first major downfall - English product support is almost non-existent. There is actually an English site: www.ewin2.net, but the downloads aren't upto date, doh!

    Trawling through the Chinese forums I eventually managed to find the latest patching software and the latest firmware for the cart, though a word of warning the download speeds were diabolically slow, so I recommend using a download accelerator.

    To save you guys the hassle I’ve mirrored the latest software and firmware here:

    Software - EWinTools (15/09/06)

    Firmware (29/09/06)


    After the hassle of obtaining the software I had envisioned similar pains actually using the patching software, but surprisingly the software, EWinTools, is a real pleasure to use. It starts up in English (though traditional and simplified Chinese are also available) and you simply add the ROMs you want to patch, choose an output directory and EWinTools will patch them almost instantly. Patching times are a LOT quicker than the SuperCard software, for example 256mb (32MB) games took me less than a second to patch using EWinTools, but with the SuperCard software it will take around 5 seconds to patch. Similarly 1024mb (128MB) games will take 5 seconds to patch using EWinTools, and over 30 using the SuperCard software. You can even drag and drop the ROMs into the window, something I really wish the SuperCard software could do.

    Check boxes next to each game give the user the ability to trim any blank/garbage data from the ROM, save patch (to save onto the SD card instead of a DS card), and 'force access', the last option being the SuperCard equivalent of 'patch cart access', required for the most recent games such as Final Fantasy III, Starfox Command and so on. The only things the EWin software seem to lack over others are the GBA union option (to fake the presence of a GBA game being in the bottom slot for bonuses in DS games) and a patch to reset/restart back to the selection menu, but in all fairness I never used that feature on the SuperCard anyway.

    [​IMG]

    EWinTools also has a variety of skins you can choose from. They are all look very professional and there's everything from iTunes to Vista:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The best feature would probably have to be the 'check updates' button though, where the software will check to see if you have the latest version and if not can automatically download it for you. I would have liked to have said this eliminates the need to mess about on the EWin site, and to an extent I guess it does but for some reason the updates button only checks for updates to EWinTools and not the cart firmware so if you want to stay up to date you'll need to frequent their Chinese site. Oh and as I mentioned earlier the downloads are very slow, but thankfully the files aren't too big.

    [​IMG]


    So anyways I move the games over to my Mini-SD card, chuck it in the EWin2 put that in my DS, stick in my SuperKey and boot up my DS Lite - I get the dreaded 2 white screens of blankness. Turns out the EWin2 is NOT compatible with the SuperKey or PassCard3 for some reason, as far as I know most other nopass devices do work however including EZPASS3, MK4-Mini, Max Media Launcher, NinjaPass Media Launcher and PassWE (maybe others too). Alternatively you could install flashme instead.

    I tried again with a MK4-Mini in the DS slot this time and the EWin loader booted up fine. The top screen displays the contents of the card and the bottom screen displays the EWin2 logo and also the time and date which is a nice touch. As with EWinTools the loader is also in full English. The selection menu is nothing fancy but long file names are supported and you can press 'X' to filter file types, so you can just display .nds files, .sav files or view all file types. You can even delete files by pressing 'Select'. Pressing 'L', 'R' and 'Up' simultaneously will update the firmware on the cart assuming you've transfered the firmware across to the SD card first.
    If you press 'R' the menu switches to a more detailed viewing mode and brings up information on each game such as the title, display icon, internal name and game code, and rom size.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Game saves are saved onto SRAM and are automatically backed up to the SD card next time you boot a game. As I understand it most other flash carts such as the M3 operate in a similar way, and waiting 5-10 seconds for the previous save to be backed up to the SD card isn't a massive deal however as a Supercard owner also, it's a shame there's not a 'real time save' feature as with the SuperCard, where saves are made directly onto the SD card, which means less waiting around when you want to play a game.

    [​IMG]


    Compatibility/Performance


    Considering how cheap the Ewin2 flash carts are I didn't expect DS compatibility to be as good as other carts on the market, but oh how very wrong I was! In the course of this review I must have tested over 100 games including all the known problem titles such as Ultimate Spiderman, Ping Pals, Pokemon Dash and so on and the EWin2 ran them all perfectly. The only "game" which won't work properly is naturally the Opera NDS Browser which will boot up but turn off because it requires a special RAM pack only sold with the game, so that aside DS compatibility is 100%.

    As for speed of updates, well I've had the EWin2 for a few weeks now and I've not had much trouble playing the latest games. The EWin2 was the first GBA based flash cart able to play Lego Star Wars II and has had no problems running other recent games such as Harvest Moon and Danny Phantom, the sole exception being Pokemon Pearl & Diamond which took a few days before an update was available, so overall the EWin team seem proficient in their updates.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Unfortunately, things aren't as pretty on the GBA front - GBA games will not run on the EWin2 at all; this is a DS only flash cart. If GBA support is a must, I have heard there will be a series of EWin2 carts with GBA support released in the near future, and these new EWin2 carts will be the same as the ones covered in this review except have an additional chip onto which GBA games can be loaded from the SD card. Obviously these EWin2 carts with GBA support will be a bit more expensive than the current versions as an additional chip is needed.

    Finally onto DS homebrew compatibility, well it's a bit of a mixed bag in regard both games and applications. Thankfully moonshell works just fine, as by the looks of it so does Rein and Beup but other stuff I tried like DSOrganise, SCUMMVM DS, NESDS, NitroTracker and SNEmulDS didn't work or would freeze up. Similarly some homebrew games worked fine whilst others wouldn't start up. Hopefully more developers will add support for the EWin2 in their projects, but if homebrew performance is your top priority in a flash cart then I recommend considering a different cart instead.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Another thing worth mentioning is that the EWin2 consumes a lot less power than other low priced carts on the market like the Supercard and EZ4, so with the EWin2 your DS battery will last a tad longer. Of course battery life is going to vary depending on screen brightness, volume, media card, game in question and so on, but on average I'd say the EWin2 lasts up to 2 hours longer than a SuperCard. midigear has carried out an extensive battery life comparison between the EWin2, SuperCard and EZ4 available here.


    Conclusion


    The EWin2 has been a pleasant surprise to review, for some of the lowest priced carts on the market I didn't expect much but it has certainly delivered a lot. Build quality is great, as is DS compatibility and it's all handled via a fast, good looking and easy to use piece of software.

    I've drawn a number of comparisons to the SuperCard in this review as prior to the EWin2 series the SuperCard carts were the cheapest on the market, and there isn't a great deal between the carts price wise, so I figure some will be wanting to know which is better. Well both the EWin and SuperCard are excellent carts and great value for money - at the end of the day it really comes down to personal preference; what the EWin2 lacks in homebrew support and GBA compatibility it makes up for with better software and a superior battery life.

    It may not play GBA games or have the best homebrew support but for anyone who is just interested in playing DS games the EWin2 gets the job done amazingly well at a rock bottom price. Highly recommended!


    Pros

    + Excellent value for money!
    + Great build quality
    + 100% DS compatibility
    + Great patching software
    + Better battery life than similar priced carts


    Cons

    - No GBA support
    - Low homebrew compatibility
    - Software and Firmware in English but otherwise lacking in English support
    - Micro-SD version doesn't fit flush with DS Lite
    - Not compatible with SuperKey or PassCard3

    Overall
    8/10


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Review kit supplied by...

    [​IMG]
    Shop @ 01 Media


    Affiliated sites
    Purchase this cart from our affiliated shops:

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    Links


    Official EWin Flash Website (Chinese)
    Official EWin2 website (English)
    Mirror - EWinTools Software (15/09/06)
    Mirror - Cart Firmware (29/09/06)
     

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