EZ-Flash V Review

Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by Opium, Jan 15, 2007.

Jan 15, 2007

EZ-Flash V Review by Opium at 2:24 AM (193,686 Views / 0 Likes) 0 replies

  1. Opium
    OP

    Former Staff Opium PogoShell it to me ™

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    GBAtemp.net review of the...

    EZ-Flash V [​IMG]

    aka: EZ-V, EZ5, EZ-Flash 5.
    Manufactured by: EZFlash
    Review samples supplied by: EZTeam

    By Opium - 25th September 2007

    [​IMG]Purchase your EZ-V from our official partner store!
    Thanks for reading our review, if you are interested in purchasing this product and wish to support the GBAtemp community or simply to reward the reviewer for their amazing work, please buy it from ShopTemp.com, GBAtemp's official partner and recommended online store! The benefits will be reversed to GBAtemp, which helps keep the site alive, support the costs for running the website, and allows the community to receive awesome prizes for competitions!

    In addition, ShopTemp offers a Premium Update & Flashing Service which allows you to get rid of all the hassle of setting up your flashcart: flashing the firmware, finding the right system files, and if you order a microSD card they will also fill your card with loads of awesome homebrew applications and games.

    ShopTemp is a reliable web shop selling flashcarts and electronics. They have amazing prices, among the most competitive on the market! They offer 100% free shipping worldwide so you won't have to pay extra. Customer service is top-quality and you get all the answers you need. You even get to use the dedicated ShopTemp Discussions Forum on GBAtemp for any further questions you may have! Wait no more, visit ShopTemp.com and get your flashcart immediately!

    Review Contents & Index:
    • Introduction
      - Official feature list
    • Packaging and Contents
      - Box Contents
    • Card Design
    • Setting Up & Using
      - GUI (OS)
    • Performance
      - ROM compatibility
      - Download Play / Single-Cart Multiplayer
      - Battery life
    • Homebrew Support
    • 3-in-1 Expansion Pack
    • Additional Features
    • Conclusion
    • Re-evaluation
    Introduction

    The EZ-V is the EZTeam’s answer to the call of slot-1 flashcards. It supports simple drag & drop functionality as well as a unique hybrid system. However it also enters the fray with some very heavy competition. The R4 DS and M3 Simply have already proved to be quality pieces of hardware and software, expectations are high. So what can this cart offer you, the consumer? Read on to find out!

    [​IMG]

    Many thanks to the EZTeam for supplying GBAtemp with sample EZ-V units to make this review possible.

    For this review I used a 1GB Kingston (Japanese made) Micro SD card. I would recommend it as it performs very well with the EZ-V.

    Official Feature List:
    • Unified slot-1 solution
    • DS Homebrew Support
    • MicroSD support
    • PDA-style interface
    • Video/Mp3 playback
    These are the features listed on the back of the box. More specific features include:
    • EZ-V can be used as a passme for slot-2 cards.
    • Drag & drop clean ROM support
    • Optional hybrid ROM patching (you have the option to trim and patch ROMs that may not be compatible with drag & drop).
    • Moonshell developed loader (skinnable similar to Moonshell).
    Packaging and Contents

    The EZ-V arrives in a small cardboard box with a plastic tray inside that houses the card (much like the Supercard). It’s a very simple throw-away housing for the product.

    On first glances the EZ-V looked like a cheap product, but perhaps we’re spoiled a little by tin and wooden boxes some flashcards arrive in. Anyway, you only bask in the packaging for a brief second before it doesn’t matter what it arrived in.

    The packaging is not impressive but does protect the card just fine, which is all that’s necessary.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

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    Box Contents
    • 1x EZ-V
    That’s right. All you get is the EZ-V card. No micro SD card reader or carrying case, not even a CD with software is included. This certainly pales in comparison to the R4 or M3 packed in goodies.

    The EZ-V card looks quite lonely there all by itself. A mini CD with a manual and the latest loader and shell could’ve easily been packed in to help people get started with their card. It’s sad to see that this wasn’t included as it can hurt first impressions and ease of use.

    Card Design

    The card is exactly the same size as an original DS card. It’s remarkable that flashcard makers have managed to cram everything into such a small case.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The EZ-V fits into the DS nicely with no scraping or bumping which is good to see. However the card does have some design flaws. Sadly you can see a big fat chip sticking up from beneath the label on the front of the cart. It is a reminder that the EZ-V isn’t completely encased in plastic; there are in fact two breath holes for chips that didn’t manage to fit into the case. It might not be noticeable in the pictures but the bulge certainly is noticeable on the real thing. This design choice doesn’t impede anything but it does take away from the aesthetic values. The EZ-V label itself also looks weirdly proportioned compared to what you’d find on an original card due to the fact that it needs to be bigger to cover the chips.

    The Micro SD slot is side loading rather than top loading. I know many people will complain about this but I really like the decision to make it side loading. If you’ve ever seen how small a Micro SD card is you’ll know how easy it is to lose. When the EZ-V is in your DS there is zero risk of losing the Micro SD card, and it also keeps the visible top part of the card looking clean and neat; just like an original DS card.

    What I don’t like about the Micro SD slot however is that it is not spring loaded. The card is simply wedged in which makes it really frustrating to remove. I’ve lost many a nail on it already. However it is becoming slightly easier to remove the Micro SD card after wearing in the slot over the last few days.

    The card design does let itself down. If the EZTeam could manage to hide that bulging chip and make the Micro SD slot spring loaded it would be perfect.


    (A closer look at the EZ-V)

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    Setting Up & Using

    The fact that there is no software CD or manual included in the box hampers the EZ-V’s ease of use for the general customer. People will have to venture online to read up on their purchase and download the appropriate software. For those that want to know how to get yourself set up when your EZ-V arrives this is what you need to do:

    You will need:
    • EZ-V
    • Compatible Micro SD card
    • Micro SD card reader
    The EZ-V supports both FAT16 and FAT32 formatted Micro SD cards. I have mine set to FAT32.

    Go to the Official EZ-Flash homepage or the Unofficial EZ-Flash Forum to download the relevant software.

    ----

    Shell

    This is the GUI (operating system); the shell folder must be placed onto the root of your Micro SD card for the EZ-V to work.

    Loader

    This is the EZ-V firmware. To update your loader place the ez5upldr.bin onto the root of your Micro SD. Then when selecting the EZ-V from your DS menu hold in the ‘R’ button until the bootstrap menu appears. Press ‘R’ again to proceed with updating your EZ-V. Once the process is complete it will boot into the GUI.

    Save List

    This file houses the save size data for all DS releases. It is constantly updated so make sure you have the latest version of the file. Download the file then place it in the ‘shell’ directory, overwrite the existing file. You will not need to manually configure the save types for any ROMs.

    Hybrid Tool

    The EZ-V fully supports drag & drop clean ROMs but you also have the choice to convert your ROMs using the Hybrid tool. It takes very little time to convert and will copy the ROM over to your Micro SD card if you tell it to.

    The general idea is that if a ROM is found to not be working correctly using drag & drop you should patch it with the Hybrid Tool. This mainly helps slow Micro SD cards play ROMs at full speed with no slowdowns. The tool will also automatically trim ROMs for you to make them smaller.

    It is really nice to see that the EZTeam have given the user the choice between using clean ROMs or the hybrid method. Even if you have a slow Micro SD card you should be able to improve performance by using the hybrid method.

    ----

    Once you have the files and have set them up you’re ready to start playing games. Drag and drop your DS ROMs onto your Micro SD card into any folder you want. There is no converting necessary (unless you want to use the Hybrid Tool), the loader will be able to see the file and run it.

    IMPORTANT: If you experience white screens when launching a ROM you may have to configure your Micro SD speed setting. This can be done by holding in L & R while in the loader. The speeds go from 1 – 12 (1 being the fastest speed). If you’re having troubles booting a game try raising the number. Or alternatively if you’re experiencing slowdowns in game try lowering the number (which’ll make the Micro SD run faster).

    The option for Chinese or English language can also be selected from the Settings menu.

    GUI (OS)

    The EZ-V GUI is based directly off Moonshell. It is identical and uses a lot of the same code, so if you’re a fan of Moonshell you’ll be happy to know all of its functionality is there. Text, picture, mp3 and DPG video support is right there built in for those of you who enjoy multimedia on your DS.

    As it’s based on Moonshell you can also skin the GUI the same way; it’s highly editable. Existing Moonshell skins can also be used but there are several picture files you’ll have to make yourself as the loader uses some custom images.

    DS Game information and icons show up on the bottom screen when you highlight a ROM which is great to see.

    I am disappointed that the GUI doesn’t make use of the touchscreen. The only time you can use the touchscreen is when you’re using the multimedia function, like playing an mp3 or video file. This is no longer a GBA flashcard but a DS flashcard; it doesn’t make any sense that the intuitive features of the DS go unused.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

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    Performance

    The rest of the EZ-V’s features don’t mean much if the card doesn’t perform well, so let’s check out how things stack up.

    I tested 30 ROMs under the same conditions. They are all clean drag & drop using a 1GB Kingston (Japanese made) Micro SD card. The Micro SD speed setting was fixed at ‘2’, the second highest setting.

    For the ROM selection I tested a random selection with an emphasis on games that are known to have troubles on other flashcards.

    ROM Compatibility

    PASS: Game plays just as it should on a real game card.
    FAIL: Game doesn't even load or freezes before game play.
    PROBLEMS: Game works but with issues.
    • Advance Wars Dual Strike
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Age of Empires
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Animal Crossing
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Asphalt Urban GT 2
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Big Brain Academy
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Bomberman Land Touch!
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Brain Training
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Burnout Legends
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Bust a Move DS
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Castlevania: DoS
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Castlevania: PoR
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Children of Mana
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Clubhouse Games
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Cooking Mama
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Daigasso! Band Bros.
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Dead N Furious
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Elite Beat Agents
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Feel the Magic
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Fifa 2006
      - PROBLEMS: Plays but does not save.
    • Mario Kart DS
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Metroid Prime Hunters
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • NEW Super Mario Bros
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Phoenix Wright 2
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Pokemon Diamond
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Sonic Rush
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Tetris DS
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Tony Hawk American Sk8tland
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    • Tony Hawk Downhill Jam
      - PROBLEMS: Plays and saves fine. Slight graphical glitches.
    • Ultimate Spiderman
      - PASS: Plays and saves fine.
    (Booting the EZ-V and a game)

    As you can see from my tests all games booted and played. There were two problem games but all things said and done there was still 100% compatibility.

    I could not get Fifa 2006 to save but other than that the game did play fine. One would hope this would be fixed in a future update. Tony Hawk Downhill Jam on the other hand had very slight graphical hiccups. The graphics would glitch ever so slightly every now and then. When playing the game on my G6 Lite I didn’t have this problem.

    The Castlevania intros ran fine with no stutters; Ultimate Spiderman also had no troubles.

    I’m very impressed with how the EZ-V performs this early on; it certainly is a very solid card with great support from the EZTeam. The Hybrid mode is also there for you to use if you want to patch your games to make them run faster or trim them. I did not have a slower Micro SD card to test this feature extensively but I’m told there is significant improvement in speed on slower Micro SD cards.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Download Play / Single-cart Multiplayer

    Download Play tests will be added to the review soon.

    Battery Life Results:

    Test condition:
    • Fully charged European Black Nintendo DS Lite
    • EZ-V, Sandisk Ultra II 1GB formatted with FAT32.
    • New Super Mario Bros. Running Main Menu and movie looping continuously
    • Screens at max. brightness (level 4)
    • Sound at 100%
    Results:

    Backup ROM of New Super Mario Bros. on EZ-V = 4 hours 40 minutes
    Retail New Super Mario Bros cart = 4 hours 55 minutes

    Homebrew Support

    All homebrew I’ve tried that does not use FAT access has worked flawlessly. You don’t need to add any sort of loader to the file, a simple .nds file will boot just fine.

    For homebrew that requires FAT access it will not work unless the homebrew you’re trying to run has DLDI support and you patch it with the EZ-V DLDI file. DLDI is a brilliant project by chishm where instead of homebrew having built in FAT support for only certain flashcards you instead patch the homebrew to work on your cart specifically. The EZ-V already has a DLDI patch with Read and Write functionality (thanks to cory1492) so the hard part is out of the way. Now all that is needed is for homebrew games and apps to update their projects with DLDI support.

    I’ve tried out DSOrganize 2.4b and it works perfectly when you apply the DLDI patch.

    The EZTeam have also released the EZ-V source code and FATlib code so it looks like they really want to embrace the homebrew community which is good to see.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    3-in-1 Expansion Pack

    The 3-in-1 Expansion Pack is included in the EZ-Flash V Bundle Pack for a little extra than just the EZ-V itself, but I’m happy to say that it’s worth the money. The expansion pack brings GBA, RAM and Rumble functionality to the EZ-V which ultimately makes the EZ-V one of the most feature rich slot-1 cards on the market.

    The Expansion Pack will only work with the EZ-V, so if you have a different slot-1 cart you won’t be too interested in it for the time being. That may change in the future however as the EZTeam have promised that the source files will be released so that homebrew developers can take advantage of it. The homebrew potential is certainly there with emulators like Picodrive utilizing the official RAM pack to speed up the emulation process.

    The build quality is great, it feels very sturdy and the black brushed finish was a good choice. The cart is held together with a single screw on the back. It fits firmly in the GBA slot however it does seem to stick out ever so slightly, so slight it’s hardly worth mentioning. You’ll notice it if you brush your finger over it though.

    Unfortunately you will need a DS Lite to take advantage of the Expansion Pack as it will only fit in the Lite sized GBA slot. It’s a little disappointing that there are no different shells, be they normal GBA sized or just different colours. Black looks okay in a white DS but it would look even better if it were white as well.

    Overall the Expansion Pack is brilliant product well worth the money and should make the EZ-V a sensible choice for all your NDS, GBA and homebrew uses.

    Before you can use the Expansion Pack you must make sure you are using the latest loader and savelist (loader v1.36 and above).


    (3-in-1 Expansion Pack)​

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    GBA

    To use the GBA functionality of the cart you need to copy GBA games over to your microSD card using the EZ4 Client, otherwise the game will not save correctly. It’s a shame that the EZ-V loader can’t do the save patching itself and that we have to use another piece of software.

    When you’ve copied your GBA game over select it from the EZ-V loader and press R+Select. This will write the game to the 256mbit of space on the Expansion Pack. This will take a little while with a 128mbit game taking just shy of two minutes to erase previous data and copy over. This may seem like a long time but you have to remember that the Expansion Pack doesn’t use removable media, it uses NorFlash which simulates an original GBA cartridge. A battery is also included which means you won’t lose your saves. Due to the hardware there will not be any GBA game slow downs, they all run 1:1 except for the games requiring additional hardware like a tilt sensor.

    You can start a GBA game by either hitting the ‘Start GBA game’ button on the DS firmware menu or by pressing R+A when selecting the game in the EZ-V menu. There is no EZ-V GBA loader menu meaning that you can only have one game on the cart at one time. It would be nice if in the future you were allowed to write multiple games to the 256mbit of space. But as it stands it's a simple and effective GBA solution for a slot-1 flash card. The EZTeam come highly recommended with all their GBA ventures and the Expansion Pack is no exception, GBA games run fine and are easy to write and use.


    (Starting a GBA game)​

    RAM

    When the Opera DS Browser was released it came with a separate RAM pack which gave the DS that little extra boost to run the application. The Expansion Pack simulates this RAM pack when you use the DS Browser ROM. There is no patching required, just simple drag & drop and the Opera Browser will work fine. Strangely though the Expansion Pack will not work if you use the original DS Browser DS card with it, only the ROM version will work. That being the case there shouldn’t be many people out there that would want to use the original card with the Expansion Pack if they have an EZ-V.

    The most interesting thing about the RAM functionality is that the source will be available to allow homebrew developers to take advantage of it. The prospect of running emulators that take advantage of the RAM pack is a tantalising thought. Already Pictodrive (Megadrive emulator) takes advantage of the official RAM pack to speed up emulation. I can’t wait to see what the future brings.


    (Opera DS Browser Running on the EZ-V)​

    Rumble

    Rumble is loud, very loud. On full rumble the Expansion Pack is frighteningly loud and completely distracts from the gaming experience. This is in line with the official rumble pack. However you have the ability to select between three different strengths of rumble. Pressing R+L on the EZ-V loader will take you to the menu where you can select between low, medium or high. On low the rumble emits hardly any noise and still has a pleasant sensation when playing games like Elite Beat Agents. Games do not have to be patched for rumble support, that information is stored in the updated savelist file. Only official rumble supported games will use the Expansion Pack as it works just like the official pack.


    (Rumble on full)


    (Rumble on Low)​

    Additional Features

    The EZ-V can be used as a passcard to boot a slot-2 flashcard. You can use this function by holding ‘R’ when booting up the EZ-V to enter the bootstrap menu. The menu will tell you to press ‘L’ to use the EZ-V as a passme. It’s a great function to have in a slot-1 card and should be standard with all cards.

    Folders on your Micro SD card can be hidden by right clicking them in Windows and checking the boxed marked ‘Hidden’. This will make sure they do not show up in the EZ-V menu. For example you could do this to the ‘shell’ and ‘save’ folders to make them not show up.

    The option to change your language between Chinese and English is built into the loader which is great because it means that there is only one loader update rather than what some companies are doing by releasing a Chinese loader than an English loader later on.

    A soft reset function was added in a later version of the loader. Soft reset allows you to press a button combination to reset back to the flash card's loader. It's a very handy feature but unfortunately ROMs need to be patched with the hybrid tool to allow soft reset to work, this is a shame as the R4 DS and M3 DS Simply can apply this feature to 'clean' ROMs.

    Conclusion

    Drag & Drop clean ROM support is exceptional and a real selling point for the EZ-V. The inclusion of a unique Hybrid ROM system is very welcome and is a feature other cards do not have. It’s great to see that the user is given the choice between these two different methods of booting games. If you have a slow Micro SD card like a Sandisk you might want to consider the EZ-V as a purchase as the Hybrid mode will improve performance for you.

    The EZ-V performs well this early on in its life. I experienced very few bugs or glitches, but those I did experience I hope will disappear with future software updates. I’m happy to say that the EZTeam are supporting the EZ-V with a constant stream of updates as well as supporting homebrew prospects by releasing the source code and FATlib.

    The card has a sturdy design and fits well into the DS but is let down by a few bad design choices. The lack of a spring loaded Micro SD slot and the chip bulging from beneath the label somewhat hampers enjoyment of the product. That said, the card will not fall apart as it is fixed together very tightly.

    The loader has all the functionality of Moonshell which is a nice inclusion, but leaves more to be desired as the touchscreen goes virtually unused. The ability to skin the loader is great for those of you who want to personalize your flashcard.

    Overall the EZ-V is a worthwhile purchase and should be considered. It offers features no other flashcard does like the Hybrid ROM system and Moonshell as the loader rather than a separately launched application. It shows great promise but is in need of more software updates to bring some aspects in line with other products on the market.

    Pros
    + Great ROM compatibility
    + No game slowdowns (from my experience)
    + Hybrid ROM Tool
    + Side loading Micro SD slot
    + Supports FAT16 & FAT32
    + Can be used as a Passcard
    + Moonshell functionality in loader
    + Easy to skin
    + Flush fit in DS slot
    + Competitive price
    + Soft Reset
    + Can play GBA games (with Expansion Pack)
    + RAM support (with Expansion Pack)
    + Rumble support (with Expansion Pack)

    Cons
    - No extras included in the box
    - Micro SD slot not spring loaded
    - Loader doesn't take advantage of touchscreen
    - Soft Reset feature requires patching the ROM
    - Some bugs & glitches

    Re-evaluation

    As of 25th September 2007

    The EZ-Flash V remains a brilliant card. It is the card of choice as far as game compatibility is concerned. When some games have difficulties on the R4DS/M3 and require updates to fix the EZ-Flash V works first time, every time. The EZ Team have done a great job designing a card that maximises compatibility. Where it's let down however is in the slow pace of updates and lack of features. This card certainly doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the R4DS. That said the EZ-Flash V is an excellent choice for people looking for something a little different. The underused but appreciated 3-in-1 Expansion pack is a great addition as well.

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    External Links:
    - Official EZFlash Website
    - Unofficial EZFlash Forums

    [​IMG]Purchase your EZ-V from our official partner store!
    Thanks for reading our review, if you are interested in purchasing this product and wish to support the GBAtemp community or simply to reward the reviewer for their amazing work, please buy it from ShopTemp.com, GBAtemp's official partner and recommended online store! The benefits will be reversed to GBAtemp, which helps keep the site alive, support the costs for running the website, and allows the community to receive awesome prizes for competitions!

    In addition, ShopTemp offers a Premium Update & Flashing Service which allows you to get rid of all the hassle of setting up your flashcart: flashing the firmware, finding the right system files, and if you order a microSD card they will also fill your card with loads of awesome homebrew applications and games.

    ShopTemp is a reliable web shop selling flashcarts and electronics. They have amazing prices, among the most competitive on the market! They offer 100% free shipping worldwide so you won't have to pay extra. Customer service is top-quality and you get all the answers you need. You even get to use the dedicated ShopTemp Discussions Forum on GBAtemp for any further questions you may have! Wait no more, visit ShopTemp.com and get your flashcart immediately!

    Special Thanks To the EZ-Team, Unofficial EZ-Flash forums and GCTonyHawk7 (whose EZ-V skin I'm using).

    This review was written for GBAtemp.net ONLY. The article and all included photos are property of GBAtemp.net
    If you see this review on any other site please let me know via e-mail - Opium [@at@] GBAtemp [.dot.] net
     

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