Hardware GBATemp: What's your opinion of these GBA's that some sellers are mass-modding and selling on eBay?

element6

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I've been watching a lot of people making a cash grab on slightly modified old handhelds on eBay, Etsy, FB, CL, etc. over the past couple of years.

I want to hear from those of you who would actually buy a pre-built, modified AGB-001.
Those of you who don't have the time and money to invest in a soldering station and numerous tools to make a one off for yourself when one can be purchased already assembled for a reasonable price.

There's a lot of junk out there for high prices with where the market has been on these things. For example, I keep watching this guy; "thegodofgaming" on eBay and etsy and other services. His entire store inventory looks like an off-the-shelf AliExpress shoebox and his listing images/logos have little effort put in to them. Yet he sells a buttload of GBA's every day at very high prices. There isn't much that is unique about the ones he sells.

I'm having a hard time understanding how some of these AGB's merit the price they demand from some sellers (not singling anyone out, there are some really crappy ones out there). There are just so many with a boxload of ill-fitting/engineered Chinese bargain bin parts thrown at them;
  • Knock off AGS-101 LCD's with heavy ghosting
  • Cheap Chinese shells straight off of AliExpress with rough textures and edges.
  • Cheap Chinese button replacements that end up negatively affecting your gameplay by being "sticky" or pads not registering properly.
  • Spray paint jobs on shells that again affect button operation.

If you are in the market for such an AGB-001,
  • What are your buying points?
  • What do you look for in an AGB-001 that really makes you want to throw your hard earned money at one?
  • What price do you feel is fair for your ideal AGB-001 (described above)?
  • How do you feel about the sellers who include a SuperCard miniSD flashcart with the GBA (or similar), filled with the complete game collection?
  • Does the inclusion of certain accessories with the GBA motivate your purchase?

To anyone that read through all this and has any feedback to offer, Thank you!
I'm really trying to wrap my head around some of these sellers and gain an understanding of who is buying the really crazy stuff (think rose colored gaming one-offs) and who is buying the bargain bin Chinese, AliExpress stuff.
 
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SirNapkin1334

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Never bought one, probably never will, but might I ask how those look unprofessional? I mean, I haven't seen that many modded GBA's, but those look pretty good to me.
 

element6

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Never bought one, probably never will, but might I ask how those look unprofessional? I mean, I haven't seen that many modded GBA's, but those look pretty good to me.

I mean no disrespect to the seller, honestly. He clearly busts his butt churning out fistfuls of modded GBA's every day. It has to be a ridiculous amount of work. I am just seeking to compare and see other's opinions on them. You have the AliExpress options, which.. yes, look great as presented when they are all brand new and fresh out of the box, but I have seen numerous people complain that the plastic is cheap, buttons stick, glass screen is low quality, etc. It's a case of "You get what you pay for." Like anything else.

Then you have one-off's from Rose Colored Gaming and other specialty shops, with very high quality components, one-off parts, extremely skilled and careful installations, etc. These ones demand higher (sometimes insane) price-tags, but they are clearly of a different caliber.
 
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FAST6191

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I had no idea there was a game modding section of etsy worth noting, then again I did not use such sites and would probably have confused it with pinterest prior to this thread.
Is this going to be like the time I discovered the extent of bored housewife gaming on the DS?

Anyway the reason I tend not to go for such sites is a phrase have had to utter more than once "call me to make it work, learn how it works or find out why it no longer works, call absolutely anybody else and they will do a better job of making it look pretty" and thus "functionality is king" in my world.
If someone wants to be nice and industrious and make a load of modded devices then that's cool, I have done such things in the past too. If they are not going to function within tolerances then hopefully nobody gets scammed into buying one, or otherwise knows what they are getting (buy a premodded device with nice screen but crap shell? Don't make me take one from the pile and swap it).
 

element6

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I had no idea there was a game modding section of etsy worth noting.

There actually is, strangely enough. In fact, there are some really great sellers on there who make skins for the 3DS, GBA SP, DS, DSi, etc. It's pretty cool for the more artistic/creative mods. Additionally, thegodofgaming is on Etsy as well and sells all the same things he sells on eBay (and other online stores) there.

Personally, I think this guy makes some of the most tasteful skins and stuff for Nintendo stuff on Etsy. His SNES skin got featured all over when he came out with it. Excellent attention to detail.

Don't make me take one from the pile and swap it

Exactly my feelings on that topic :)
 
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steelseth

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In Europe where Im at, a GBA goes for about 30 EUR and the 101 screen with the converter cable for about another 35 EUR and another 10EUR for a new shell. so I was considering it at some point buying from this guy https://www.ebay.ie/itm/Gold-Pokemo...var=690168621323&_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649 simply because it would be cheaper than buying the parts.

Then I remembered I prefer the form factor of the sp and got another sp 101 instead. :)
 
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element6

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I concur with those types of situations as well. I see several people who do sell quality, modified consoles at essentially the same or less than the price of buying the console and parts yourself. I love my SP for the clean form factor (like, a lot), but having big hands makes playing on it for a long time annoying. Just like on my 3DS vs. 3DS/XL.. I only had a 3DS at first, and I love the thing to death.. it fits in a pocket so easily.. but man, 2 hours+ and my hands start cramping up.
 
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cearp

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The 'fake' 101 screens on ebay are perfect...
If there is any ghosting it's because you need to soldering a wire or add a resistor somewhere. Once you do that, it's great. Newer adaptor cables have the resistor already added.

The fake gba housings are ok, not so bad at all.
Of course the originals are better though.
The buttons are so simple, so there's not much to do wrong, no sticking etc, although using the original rubber conductive pads are best some say.

A glass screen alone is a big upgrade to the console.

There's nothing to worry about.

Are these your worries, or your actual experiences?
 
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osaka35

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I dunno, I prefer to just mod things myself. Never thought about doing it as a way to make profit. I suppose I could start. I enjoy buying broken things and fixing them. Might as well start repairing, modding, and plopping them on ebay one at a time.

cheap knock-offs are cheap knock-offs. As long as you know what you're getting, and you're fine with the inferior quality, then whatevs. I personally prefer as original as possible, with enhancements to the original experience. Not a huge fan of those devices that are just computers-on-a-chip with a crappy lcd and squishy controls. I much prefer original hardware that's been optimized in some manner.
 
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WiiUBricker

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I once attempted to make a modded GBA myself. I bought a used GBA AGS-001 for cheap as well as an AGS-101 replacement screen and new shell off Rose Colored Gaming. I also bought a soldering iron and some solder. Not sure what I payed for everything, but I ended up breaking the screen and the motherboard during my attempt to solder the small wire that was supposed to supply the screen with power.

Needless to say, I gave up on DIY and bought a pre-modded GBA off ebay at some later point (at that time Rose Colored Gaming sadly stopped selling pre-modded GBAs). The screen seemed ok to me although I can’t compare it to an original AGS-101 screen because I never had one. Shell and buttons were also ok, but I liked the all-black replacement shell I got from Rose Colored Gaming better, so I attempted a shell replacement. It went smooth, or so I thought. In the end, the dpad down button had an issue in where it wouldn’t register as fast as the other dpad buttons and had to be pressed hard to register. Just my luck with DYI things :/
 

element6

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The 'fake' 101 screens on ebay are perfect...
If there is any ghosting it's because you need to soldering a wire or add a resistor somewhere. Once you do that, it's great. Newer adaptor cables have the resistor already added.

Are these your worries, or your actual experiences?

Ahhh.. ok! This is what I was really wondering. I haven't bought a fake 101 screen yet, but I was going to sample a few. In a roundabout way I was trying to find out which ones were actually worth buying.. I looked around at many, many threads from the past 3 or 4 years where people made various comments on Chinese backlit 101 LCD replacements. Saw some people using DS Lite (or was it DSi?) LCD panels as well, and in most of those cases there was an immediate response from someone that the DS Lite (or DSi?) LCD was prone to ghosting worse than the knockoff AGS-101 LCD.

So yes, these were all mostly my worries.

As far as the cases go, I'm sure most of the Chinese replicas are perfectly fine, but I did see several reviews from thegodofgaming's eBay feedback complaining about sticky buttons and low quality shell replacements. That's why I was hesitant and torn on who to source a shell and buttons from.

Thanks for your comment. Greatly appreciated!

--------------------- MERGED ---------------------------

Not a huge fan of those devices that are just computers-on-a-chip with a crappy lcd and squishy controls. I much prefer original hardware that's been optimized in some manner.

Same. Raspberry Pi solutions can never amount to the same experience as original hardware IMO. I really like some of the projects people have made, like the minyPi and the GameBoy Zero, but having played both, I feel they are just novelties. I love where things currently stand in the GB realm of hardware mods; we have chiptune kits, bivert LCD mods, backlight mods, LED mods, button mods, numerous flash carts, and USB rechargeable battery mods all at our disposal. Revisiting my old GB library is like re-experiencing the games all over again.

--------------------- MERGED ---------------------------

I once attempted to make a modded GBA myself. I bought a used GBA AGS-001 for cheap as well as an AGS-101 replacement screen and new shell off Rose Colored Gaming. I also bought a soldering iron and some solder. Not sure what I payed for everything, but I ended up breaking the screen and the motherboard during my attempt to solder the small wire that was supposed to supply the screen with power.

Needless to say, I gave up on DIY and bought a pre-modded GBA off ebay at some later point (at that time Rose Colored Gaming sadly stopped selling pre-modded GBAs). The screen seemed ok to me although I can’t compare it to an original AGS-101 screen because I never had one. Shell and buttons were also ok, but I liked the all-black replacement shell I got from Rose Colored Gaming better, so I attempted a shell replacement. It went smooth, or so I thought. In the end, the dpad down button had an issue in where it wouldn’t register as fast as the other dpad buttons and had to be pressed hard to register. Just my luck with DYI things :/

That really sucks that you wasted so much money getting what you wanted and then still not having it work. Hopefully you got the D-Pad issue sorted. If not, you may want to take it to someone familiar with modding GB/GBA's. The rubber pad or PCB pad may need some surface cleaning or a rubber pad replacement. I've cleaned my buttons, shells, and d-pads many times over the years in my ultrasonic cleaner as preventive maintenance. Any time I've had problems with buttons registering, this has taken care of it. I doubt the plastic d-pad itself is the culprit, but you may want to have whoever looks at the system check that as well.
 

steelseth

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Here is a recent comparison of the original 101 vs chinese ones.



Not as good but I dont know if you could tell the difference if you didn't have them side by side, and you dont have to kill a 101 sp to get it.

The ds lite screen has better contrast, color and brightness and I havent noticed any ghosting to be honest but Im not as fussy as some people.
 
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Bazahazano

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Here is a recent comparison of the original 101 vs chinese ones.



Not as good but I dont know if you could tell the difference if you didn't have them side by side, and you dont have to kill a 101 sp to get it.

The ds lite screen has better contrast, color and brightness and I havent noticed any ghosting to be honest but Im not as fussy as some people.


I have just modded my AGS-001 to take the the Chinese knock off 101 screen it looks pretty sweet to me. No need to kill a good 101.
 
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element6

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Here is a recent comparison of the original 101 vs chinese ones.

Not as good but I dont know if you could tell the difference if you didn't have them side by side, and you dont have to kill a 101 sp to get it.

The ds lite screen has better contrast, color and brightness and I havent noticed any ghosting to be honest but Im not as fussy as some people.

That's one of the comparison videos I was looking at that made me take a step back and rethink it. After looking into it some more over the past few weeks I realize why his "Chinese" LCD looks so bad in comparison to the authentic AGS-101 LCD: He never adjusted the potentiometer on the GBA and might not have used the proper wiring (depends on the ribbon cable adapter he used) or taken the additional steps to adjust everything.

The solution is here in this post: GBA Backlight! (AGB-001)

After wiring everything in the best manner possible for your specific AGB and dialing in the pot just right, the differences between an OEM AGS-101 LCD and the Chinese LCD's should be much less noticeable than what you see in JordiPower's video.
 

Bazahazano

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That's one of the comparison videos I was looking at that made me take a step back and rethink it. After looking into it some more over the past few weeks I realize why his "Chinese" LCD looks so bad in comparison to the authentic AGS-101 LCD: He never adjusted the potentiometer on the GBA and might not have used the proper wiring (depends on the ribbon cable adapter he used) or taken the additional steps to adjust everything.

The solution is here in this post: GBA Backlight! (AGB-001)

After wiring everything in the best manner possible for your specific AGB and dialing in the pot just right, the differences between an OEM AGS-101 LCD and the Chinese LCD's should be much less noticeable than what you see in JordiPower's video.

This is my AGS-001 with cheap Chinese display and Knock off shell. I LOVE it.

 
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element6

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