FlatMii Review

Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by Lily, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. Lily

    Lily One Scary Lady

    Former Staff
    Jun 18, 2004
    British Columbia
    <font color="red">GBAtemp.net review of the...</font>

    <img src="http://gbatemp.net/up/flatmii.png" border="0" class="linked-image" />

    aka: FlatMii, Flat Mii
    Manufactured by: <a href="http://www.flatmii.com" target="_blank">FlatMii team</a>

    Review written by <a href='http://gbatemp.net/member.php?name=lilsypha' target=_blank title='View profile for member lilsypha'}>lilsypha</a> - 16th February 2009

    Review kit supplied by:

    <a href="http://www.ozmodchips.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://gbatemp.net/up/ozmodchips.png" border="0" class="linked-image" /></a>

    <b>Review Contents & Index:</b><ul><li><a style="text-decoration: none;" href="#a">Introduction</a></li><li><a style="text-decoration: none;" href="#b">Contents, Packaging and Features</a></li><li><a style="text-decoration: none;" href="#c">Hardware Installation</a></li><li><a style="text-decoration: none;" href="#d">Software Installation</a></li><li><a style="text-decoration: none;" href="#e">Usage</a></li><li><a style="text-decoration: none;" href="#f">Conclusion</a></li></ul><div class="reviewbreak"><a name="a">Introduction</a></div>
    It isn't often that a brand new product enters a scene already stuffed to the brim with different types of established modchips. The FlatMii has not only broken into that scene, but actually manages to bring something entirely different to the table that separates itself from the other products available. Why? It isn't a modchip! It doesn't allow you to play backed up games on disc, nor does it allow you to install homebrew software. "So then what's the point, why should I bother buying this and installing it in my Wii? What is it?" The FlatMii is a Wii DVD drive on a chip, and you can use it in a variety of different ways:<ul><li>To replace a Wii DVD drive entirely;</li><li>To replace a broken Wii DVD drive entirely;</li><li>In conjunction With an existing Wii DVD drive;</li><li>In conjunction With an existing Wii DVD drive AND drivechip.</li></ul>The FlatMii connects to your Window XP/Vista 32/64bit based PC via USB, and allows you to load ISO images of both Wii and GameCube titles from your PC directly to the Wii.

    <div class="reviewbreak"><a name="b">Contents, Packaging and Features</a></div>
    The FlatMii arrived in a plain ziploc bag that contained the FlatMii itself, 2 ribbon cables, a sticker and a USB connector. To get instructions, drivers, and software, you must head over to the FlatMii website and download them manually. The web address is printed on the chip, while the FlatMii logo is imprinted on the USB connector. Other than that, there was nothing remarkable about the packaging. It was as plain and utilitarian as could be.

    The build quality of both the chip and USB connector are excellent. Nothing is loose, and the USB connector doesn't feel like cheap plastic.

    Features:<ul><li>No solder required; (<font color="#006400">Yes</font>)</li><li>No drivemod required; (<font color="#006400">Yes</font>)</li><li>No clip required; (<font color="#006400">Yes</font>)</li><li>No software modification required; (<font color="#006400">Yes</font>)</li><li>Plug and play; (<font color="#006400">Yes</font>)</li><li>All chipsets compatible including EPOXY & D3 drives; (<font color="#006400">Yes</font>)</li><li>100% compatible with drivemods; (<font color="#006400">Yes</font>)</li><li>Standalone mode (No wii dvd drive/media needed); (<font color="#006400">Yes</font>)</li><li>Combo drive/flatmii mode; (<font color="#006400">Yes</font>)</li><li>Highspeed USB 2.0 fast loadings; (<font color="#006400">Yes</font>)</li><li>Wii/Gamecube/ISO9660/Multi and DL ISOS compatible; (<font color="#006400">Yes</font>)</li><li>Region free; (<font color="#006400">Yes</font>)</li><li>Full Compatible with Geckos,Mplayer,Emulators & Homebrew; (<font color="#006400">Yes</font>)</li><li>Updates blocker; (<font color="#006400">Yes</font>)</li><li>Wii iso remote tool selector. (<font color="#FF0000">Don't know what this refers to.</font>)</li></ul><img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/reviews/flatmii/DSC01150.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <i>The FlatMii package as it arrived.</i>

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/reviews/flatmii/DSC01151.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <i>The contents of the FlatMii package.</i>

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/reviews/flatmii/DSC01152.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <i>Nerdy close-up of the FlatMii chip #1.</i>

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/reviews/flatmii/DSC01153.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <i>Nerdy close-up of the FlatMii chip #2.</i>

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/reviews/flatmii/DSC01154.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <i>The FlatMii USB connector.</i>

    <div class="reviewbreak"><a name="c">Hardware Installation</a></div>
    The installation of the FlatMii is quite easy, but requires a few extra tools and components that are not included with the FlatMii package. In addition to what's included, you will need:<ul><li>A phillips head screwdriver;</li><li>A Tri-wing screwdriver;</li><li>Electrical tape;</li><li>A mini-USB to USB cable.</li></ul>As mentioned in the introduction, there are a variety of different ways you can use the FlatMii - either as a replacement for your DVD drive, or as a supplement to it. You will use the sticker included in the package to cover the bottom of the FlatMii chip, and you will use the electrical tape to cover some exposed metal in the Wii to prevent any shorts. You will use the screwdrivers to disassemble your Wii. There is a video tutorial provided on the FlatMii site in case this is your first time disassembling your Wii, or you need a bit of a refresher.

    The FlatMii has connectors for three ribbon cables. To replace your Wii DVD drive, you simply remove it, and connect the Wii DVD ribbon cable to the approprate connector on the FlatMii. To install the FlatMii together with your DVD drive, you connect the Wii DVD ribbon cable to the appropriate connector on the FlatMii, and you connect the short ribbon cable provided with the FlatMii to the Wii DVD drive and the appropriate connector on the FlatMii.

    <b>Important note:</b> The FlatMii documentation claims that you can use the FlatMii together with your DVD drive and drivechip. In my experience, this was possible, but only with the Wii guts hanging out every which way, because I am using a modchip with a solderless clip. The problem stems from the fact that the Wii DVD ribbon cable is too short to allow the necessary room to seat both chips in the Wii and reassemble it properly. The pressure this places on the Wii DVD ribbon cable damages it beyond repair. I believe that it would be possible to install both chips, but you will need to replace the Wii DVD ribbon cable with a longer one to allow you to place the FlatMii in a location that won't interfere with your drivechip. An improvement to the FlatMii package would be including 2 DVD ribbon cables, as the one they provide is long enough for this type of install. If your Wii DVD drive has a modchip soldered on, this would not be an issue for you as there would be adquate room under the drive to properly seat the FlatMii.

    <i>(I broke the Wii DVD ribbon cable attempting to install the two chips together anyway. All is fair when putting a product through its paces, but it did take a few days to track down a replacement cable!)</i>

    Now, regardless of what method you chose to connect the FlatMii, the final step is to connect the long thin ribbon cable included in the package to the appropriate connector on the FlatMii, which then feeds out through the back of the Wii where the USB ports are. That cable connects to the USB connector, and the USB connector plugs into one of the Wii's USB ports. A quick power on to test that everything is hooked up correctly, and the Wii can be reassembled. If you are experienced at disassembling your Wii, you can be in and out in about 15 minutes.

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/reviews/flatmii/DSC01155.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <i>The FlatMii connected without the Wii DVD drive.</i>

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/reviews/flatmii/DSC01157.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <i>Close-up of the connected FlatMii</i>

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/reviews/flatmii/DSC01160.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <i>Close-up of the FlatMii USB connector plugged in to the Wii USB port.</i>

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/reviews/flatmii/DSC01164.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <i>Alternative view of the FlatMii USB connector plugged in to the Wii USB port.</i>

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/reviews/flatmii/DSC01165.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <i>The FlatMii connected with the Wii DVD drive and modchip.</i>

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/reviews/flatmii/DSC01166.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <i>Alternative view of the FlatMii connected with the Wii DVD drive and modchip.</i>

    <div class="reviewbreak"><a name="d">Software Installation</a></div>
    Currently, the FlatMii software and drivers require a Microsoft Windows XP/Vista sytem with Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 installed. There are drivers available for both 32bit and 64bit versions.

    Connecting the FlatMii to the PC is as easy as connecting the USB cable (the one you must provide) to the FlatMii USB connector and the PC. You will be prompted to install drivers, and a few seconds later, it's all finished.

    <b>Important note:</b> I couldn't install the FlatMii drivers (I kept getting a USB error) until I unplugged all of the USB devices sharing the same root hub. It works fine with other devices plugged in once the drivers were installed, but on three separate computers, anything plugged into the USB ports caused problems during installation. That was an irritation.

    Once the drivers are installed, the USB cable is connected to the PC and your Wii is on, you can load the FlatMii software and it will show "Connected" in green text if everything was successful.

    <div class="reviewbreak"><a name="e">Usage</a></div>
    Once the FlatMii is installed, hooked up and ready to go, you can send ISO images to it from the PC. It allows virtually any type of GameCube or Wii ISO you can give it. This means you can play 1:1 images, scrubbed Wii images and wiped GameCube images. You may also use multi GameCube images with no limit on how large they can be! The FlatMii is also a 'region free' DVD drive, allowing you to play images coded JAP, USA, EUR or KOR no matter what region Wii you own.

    The software is very easy to use. The main window has five options:<ul><li>Open ISO;</li><li>Open with Autoboot;</li><li>Eject ISO;</li><li>Setup;</li><li>www.flatmii.com.</li></ul>The first two options are where you'll be spending most of your time. 'Open ISO' sends the image to the disc channel, and you can run it from your Wii as if you entered the real disc in the drive. 'Open with Autoboot' sends the image to the disc channel and then starts the game automatically. There's a disclaimer from the FlatMii team that this doesn't work with every game, but in my testing, I didn't find a game that didn't work. 'Eject ISO' unloads the image from the disc channel. 'Setup' is where you can force the region of the game you're trying to load, and where you tell the software if you're using the FlatMii by itself or with the DVD drive installed. I'm not sure what difference that setting makes, because everything worked fine no matter what the setting, and no matter what configuration the FlatMii was actually in. You can also block updates, which makes playing games from other regions a breeze, and helps avoid any accidents with a homebrew enabled Wii.

    I've had the FlatMii in my posession for at least three weeks now, and during that time I've tested it extensively across three different computers. The minimum requirements call for an 800mhz processor, 1GB of RAM and a USB 2.0 host controller. You will also need as much disk space as you can get your hands on to store all of your ISO images!<ul><li>Computer 1: XP 32bit, USB 1.1 & 2.0 ports available;</li><li>Computer 2: Vista 32bit, USB 2.0 ports only;</li><li>Computer 3: Vista 64bit, USB 2.0 ports only.</li></ul>For testing, I used 70 GameCube images and 50 Wii images, representing all four major region codes. I also used a massive 70 game GameCube multi image (just under 100gb) to stress the no file size limitation of the FlatMii.

    Every single image loaded flawlessly, regardless of region. I scrubbed Wii images randomly using WiiScrubber, and the reduced size images also loaded flawlessly. I wiped GameCube images randomly using GCM Utility, and those reduced size images also loaded flawlessly. Try as I might, I couldn't get the FlatMii to fail on an image. It boots trucha-signed images if your Wii is version 3.2. It boots single and dual layer Wii images. It handles multi-disc games without issue, with the caveat that the game must save before you switch discs. I wasn't able to make an image file that it wouldn't boot and play! Over a USB 2.0 connection, there was no slowdown or lag in any game. Over a USB 1.1 connection, there was some lag and stuttering, but it was minimal. Clearly for a completely unhampered experience you need USB 2.0 as the requirements state, but you certainly can play using USB 1.1 if that's all that is available to you.

    Since I couldn't make any of the images fail, I began to test the FlatMii by loading the images over different types of connections:<ul><li>Images direct from the computer's internal hard drive;</li><li>Images from an external 3.5" hard drive over USB;</li><li>Images from an external 2.5" hard drive over USB;</li><li>Images over a wireless connection to the network from an external hard drive hooked up to a different PC on the network via USB;</li><li>GameCube images burned as ISO files to disc, loaded from an external DVD-ROM drive connected via USB;</li><li>Images from an external hard drive connected via ethernet.</li></ul>Nothing seems to affect the speed or the delivery. The FlatMii handled every case I threw at it with ease. I lost half a day to the original Metroid Prime, and was still surprised when I quit that I wasn't playing the game from a disc.

    The only disc I couldn't run was a Wii homebrew disc built with the open source apploader. I apparently am not the only person that had this problem, so there must be something about the way the program builds the image that causes a problem with the FlatMii. I don't consider this to be a big issue though, as most people will be using the Homebrew Channel to run their homebrew software. Coincidentally, you can use the FlatMii and an ISO of The Legend of Zelda - Twilight Princess to install the Twilight Hack and get the Homebrew Channel on your Wii.

    As one of the computers I was testing with was a laptop, I decided to close the laptop lid in the middle of gameplay, sending the computer into standby mode. The Wii responded with "please insert disc". Re-opening the laptop lid and reloading (i.e. re-inserting) the image file caused gameplay to continue as if nothing had happened. Fabulous!

    When the FlatMii is connected with the existing Wii DVD drive, any disc that is inserted in the drive takes precedence over what you're trying to load with the FlatMii software. I tested the drive both with and without a drivechip, and nothing interferes with the FlatMii, and the FlatMii doesn't interfere with normal operation of the Wii.

    <div class="reviewbreak"><a name="f">Conclusion</a></div>
    The FlatMii is an excellent kit. Whether you use it to bring a Wii back to life with a broken DVD drive, or add it to your Wii for the extra functionality, you simply can't go wrong. I personally have my Wii hooked up to my computer monitor, so it sits right above my main computer. Using the FlatMii chip presents no inconvenience in my situation, because my Wii is already close to a computer. If your Wii is not close to a computer, this may not be the ideal solution for you. Having a laptop you could bring to the Wii would be the next best thing, but the convenience factor depends on how long of a USB cable you use and where the laptop is situated. It is incredibly easy to install, even for someone who has never opened their Wii before. Aside from the minor installation issues that I mentioned, the kit has been an absolute breeze to work with.

    The compatibility is excellent. Aside from the Wii Apploader disc, the FlatMii booted every ISO image I could make, whether it was 1:1, scrubbed, wiped, single or dual layer. Being able to stream an image wirelessly to the FlatMii from my laptop from an external hard drive hooked up to my desktop over the network and still not experience any lag or issues just took the cake. The software is easy to use, simple, and doesn't present the user with any unecessary options.

    If you have a PC close to your Wii, the sheer flexibility of the FlatMii beats burning discs. The only thing that would make the FlatMii perfect would be to allow loading of ISO images from external storage, removing the PC from the picture. Regardless, this is a very unique kit that presents an excellent alternative (or addition) to a modchip.

    <font color="#006400">Pros:</font><ul><li>No solder installation;</li><li>Region free;</li><li>Works with existing modchips;</li><li>Works as a complete DVD drive replacement;</li><li>Loads ISO images of any size.</li></ul><font color="#FF0000">Cons:</font><ul><li>Windows only;</li><li>Must be located near a computer;</li><li>No documentation included in kit;</li><li>USB Cable not included.</li></ul><div class="reviewbreak"><img src="http://gbatemp.net/up/award_gold.png" border="0" class="linked-image" /></div>

    Review kit supplied by:
    <a href="http://www.ozmodchips.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://gbatemp.net/up/ozmodchips.png" border="0" class="linked-image" /></a>

    If you would like to order a FlatMii from OzModChips, all GBAtemp members receive free shipping with promo code "<b>gbatWC</b>"!

    <b>External Links:</b>
    - <a href="http://www.flatmii.com" target="_blank">FlatMii Website</a>
    - <a href="http://gbatemp.net/index.php?act=downloads" target="_blank">GBAtemp Download Centre</a>

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