Review - SuperCard Lite

Discussion in 'GBAtemp Reviews & Guides' started by FifthE1ement, Aug 18, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
Aug 18, 2006

Review - SuperCard Lite by FifthE1ement at 6:08 AM (44,384 Views / 0 Likes) 0 replies

  1. FifthE1ement
    OP

    Member FifthE1ement GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2006
    Messages:
    603
    Country:
    United States
    SuperCard Lite Review:

    [​IMG]

    Introduction:

    The SuperCard team is back with their newest offering the SuperCard Lite! Fans of the SuperCard team realize that this has been one of the most anticipated releases since the introduction of the DS Lite. The SuperCard Lite is the first flush fitting solution for the DS Lite with flash media card support! As of right now the only other DS Lite solutions are the G6 Lite, which only has 512MB of onboard memory, and the EZ-Flash IV Lite which sticks out of the DS Lite by 0.8mm. These features are all a big deal in the world of flashcarts as memory and size is king. The SuperCard team, hot off their release of the SuperCard miniSD, now has a Lite version which promises a faster more compatible DS experience while maintaining the strict quality of the previous SuperCard products!

    Product Information:

    [​IMG]

    Packaging:

    The SuperCard Lite comes in a small white box with, “SuperCard Lite”, “microSD”, Dual Screen Logo, and “High Speed, Original Size” printed on the front, with icons for “Real Time Save”, “PC Specs”, “DS Lite” and “2.0 GB microSD”. It also shows an actual sized SuperCard Lite in the center which goes along with the “Original Size” next to it. The SuperCard Lite picture itself is an exact copy of the product and is embossed showing every detail including a microSD card being inserted. It’s quite nice to feel and look at and shows just how small the SuperCard Lite and a microSD card really are. I also noticed how they used a 2GB microSD all over the box to show that the SuperCard Lite is compatible up to 2GB, at least. Also on the front is a “Compatible with NDS Lite” message along with a bigger shot of the SuperCard Lite in the background.

    The Sides of the Box have the SuperCard Lite Dual Screen logo on them and also has a compatibility message showing support for the IDSL (Chinese DSL) and NDSL. Other sides contain a SuperCard Team stamp which says, “Super, SuperCard Team Present”, and has the SuperCard flame “S” logo on Super.

    The back of the box has a lot of text explaining what the SuperCard Lite is as well as how to use it in graphic form. There are also more PC specifications and the website address for the SuperCard team. (www.supercard.cn)

    Once you open the box you’ll find a velvety molded plastic tray which surrounds the SuperCard Lite which is sitting in its own molded indention. To get the SuperCard Lite out all you need to do is flip over the plastic mold and it will come out very easily. Other than the SuperCard Lite and the plastic mold tray there was nothing else in the box. I think that since my SuperCard Lite was made just after release they might not have had time to pack in the software or manual but I suspect that later versions will contain at least a software CD. This is normal with new release products as companies want to get the product out even if everything isn’t quite ready. Overall the packaging is very good and informs the buyer to what the SuperCard Lite can do and looks like visually even before making a purchase.

    [​IMG]

    Hardware:

    The SuperCard itself is made from hard white plastic which is very durable and seems to be of high quality. The color is dead on, Polar White, and sits almost unnoticed in the DS Lite. It’s very hard to tell that you have the SuperCard Lite in the GBA slot as it sits perfectly flush inside the DS Lite. The size is also a great achievement as it’s the same size as the DS dust cover. The flash media slot is on the right side and the microSD slides in very easily and is held in tightly.

    My only gripes are that the transparent glossy layer across the top of the DS dust cover isn’t there, no other colors, and that it is very hard to remove from the DS Lite. Getting it into the DS Lite isn’t a problem but getting it out is kind of hard. Once you get the left corner pulled out a bit it seems to come out ok but I’m surprised this wasn’t caught before release. There are rumblings of a black SuperCard Lite coming out of the SuperCard camp but nothing is official as of yet. The SuperCard Lite, visually, is worthy of a SuperCard team release and will last the test of time due to its very durable plastic.

    [​IMG]

    Inside the SuperCard’s durable plastic shell is a very small PCB containing the RAM, memory and other SuperCard internals, along with another PCB layered on the back and connected by a very small data transfer ribbon. This second PCB houses the microSD card slot which is tightly packed into the back of the cart. I caution users that open the SuperCard Lite to not force it apart or pull to hard as you can damage the ribbon thus ruining the product. The SuperCard Lite’s internals look much like those of the miniSD version without the rechargeable battery. Even the memory and RAM are manufactured by the same company and it’s quite amazing how they have fit everything into such a small package. Good things come in small packages!

    Special thanks to Chris and the www.SuperCardStore.com team for providing this SuperCard Lite for testing along with a SanDisk 1GB microSD card. The SuperCardStore.com is an official dealer of SuperCard and has great prices and shipping on all things SuperCard!

    Features:

    The SuperCard box doesn’t really go into detail on the product features other then in the graphic diagram on the back where it shows icons for movies, images, games, music, and eBooks. It doesn’t really explain its features like the other flashcarts packaging so below is a list showing the products “touted” features. Some of the items on the list will be direct from the SuperCard Team’s website while others will be from my memory.

    SuperCard Lite Features:

    - Sits flush in the DS Lite GBA slot.
    - Uses microSD (TF) flash media.
    - Faster than the miniSD/SD SuperCard versions when using high speed memory.
    - Compatible with all Nopass devices.
    - Real Time Save support.
    - Compression support.
    - Front loading microSD slot for quicker access.
    - Supports microSD cards up to 2GB’s.
    - NDS GBA linkage function.
    - Almost 100% DS game support.
    - Easy to use software.
    - Regular software and firmware updates for better performance and compatibility.
    - Durable, high quality plastic mold.
    - Plays DS & GBA games, movies, music, pictures, EBooks and more.
    - FC, NES, SNES, GB, GBC, PCE, SEGA-MS & GG systems support with emulators.
    - Great Homebrew support.

    [​IMG]

    Software and Getting Started:

    Once you have everything out you should be ready to go. I suggest first going to www.supercard.cn and getting the latest software and firmware. As this is a review and not a guide I’ll expect that you have read the documentation on the website and are familiar with the SuperCard by now. I am just giving an overview of the software’s functionality and ease of use. To use the SuperCard Lite with DS games and homebrew you must have a no pass device in the DS gamecart slot, which can be usually purchased where you bought the SuperCard Lite. For a very detailed “Guide to Homebrew and Flashcarts” please scroll to the bottom of this review and click the link of the same name.

    If you have ever used a SuperCard product in the past you’ll be happy to know that the software for the SuperCard Lite is the same as previous models. It does have its own version for microSD but it looks and functions the same and is just as easy. You basically just select the ROMs you want, DS or GBA, and the program will output them to a format that you put on the microSD card. It’s all very easy to do and it even lets you covert multiple files and formats at the same time! Another great feature is support for archived ZIP files so that you don’t have to extract your ROMs’ before converting them.

    The program still has multiple options for all its different features like Real Time Save, Saver & Restart Patches, Compression, Trim Rom and many more. These options really don’t have to be touched for regular gameplay and I suggest finding out what they do before you do change them. They can all be explained on the SuperCard website and if you have ever owned a SuperCard product then you will already know what they do. Once you patch the ROMs with the software you can put them on your microSD and you are ready to play!

    The software and firmware on SuperCard products are constantly updated for better performance and compatibility so you will never have to worry about being outdated.

    [​IMG]

    SuperCard Lite Menu:

    Once you start up your DS you’ll be treated to the SuperCard Lite menu. The menu for the SuperCard Lite is identical to previous versions of the device and simplicity is the key. With a Nopass device in your DS you can load up DS or GBA games at any time and everything is kept very simple. The SuperCard logo is on the touch screen and the top screen is used for navigation. You can easily browse all of your games in under a few seconds allowing you to get playing in less than 5 seconds from power on to the Nintendo logo on the game. It’s a very simple system but gets the job done.

    The SuperCard Lite menu load times for DS and GBA games have been cut in half! GBA games now load and save twice as fast as previous models meaning you’ll spend much less time waiting for counters to file or percentages to count down. DS games load almost instantly with no wait times at all, even with the biggest ROM files. The only downside to the menu is that it still only supports the FAT16 file system, which limits the SuperCard Lite to 2GB microSD cards and makes sorting ROMs and files difficult. It’s difficult in the sense that files are sorted by modified date rather than their alphabetical name in the file and folder lists. FAT16 doesn’t detract from the menu’s positive points but it is annoying to have to run your files though FATSort after loading them on your microSD card. I mean how hard could the switch to FAT32 have been?

    Most complaints about the SuperCard products arise from its menu as it seems many want the SuperCard to have a “do everything”, skinable, touch screen support, and use icons for games interface. The SuperCard team has always chosen speed over looks and the Lite’s interface is no different. I happen to agree with the SuperCard team as I don’t think you should be in the menu system for more than ten to fifteen seconds max. There is no reason to be in the menu other then to select you game or application and get playing. It would be nice to have those features available for those who wish to utilize them but as of right now its not a high priority on the SuperCard teams list, nor mine.

    [​IMG]

    Performance:

    Performance on the SuperCard products has always been top notch and the SuperCard Lite is no exception. I tested both the SuperCard Lite and miniSD version’s since many readers own the miniSD/SD version and it makes a great reference point for comparison. Features on both products are near identical and thus should be performance. Below is an outline of products used, specifications, and conditions so that everything is equal and able to be tested without bias or distortion of the results.

    Testing Products and conditions:


    Flashcarts:
    SuperCard Lite – FW v1.63C
    SuperCard miniSD – FW v1.63C


    For the performance test I used the SuperCard Lite and SuperCard miniSD. Both are using ROMs patched with the latest software (v2.55C) and both have the newest firmware (v1.63C). Both were tested in a Polar White, US, DS Lite with a SuperKey and PassCard3.

    Memory:

    SanDisk 1GB microSD:
    Spec. Speeds – Read = 60X (9MB/sec) – Write = 12X (1.8MB/sec)
    HD Tach Speeds – Read = 61X (9.3MB/sec) – Write = 16X (2.4MB/sec) – Access Time = 1.1m/s

    SanDisk Ultra II 1GB microSD:
    Spec. Speeds - Read = 66X (10MB/sec) – Write = 60X (9MB/sec)
    HD Tach Speeds – Read = 73X (11.1MB/sec) – Write = 67X (10.2MB/sec) – Access Time = 1.0m/s

    ATP ProMax 2GB miniSD:
    Spec. Speeds – Read = 150X (22.5MB/sec) – Write = 100X (15MB/sec)
    HD Tach Speeds – Read = 170X (25.7MB/sec) – Write = 113X (17.1MB/sec) – Access Time = 1.0m/s

    SanDisk 2GB miniSD:
    Spec. Speeds - Read = 60X (9MB/sec) – Write = 12X (1.8MB/sec)
    HD Tach Speeds - Read = 60X (9.1MB/sec) – Write = 15X (2.2MB/sec) – Access Time = 1.2m/s

    *Spec. Speeds = Manufacturer Specification Speeds - HD Tach Speeds = HD Tach Speed Results

    The flash media list above was all clean formatted to FAT (Windows XP Pro spec) then tested with HD Tach v3.0.1.0 for speed results. The tests were performed on a P4 3.0C GHz, 1GB PC3200 DC DDR, Radeon 9800 Pro, USB 2.0, PC running Windows XP Pro and on a SanDisk ImageMate 12-in-1 USB 2.0 card reader. My goal was to determine if buying faster flash media would give the flashcart better performance, resulting in less slowdown and lag. Is faster rated flash media worth the extra money and do they give the flashcart an extra performance boost or do they really matter? Read on to find out!

    DS & GBA Game Performance Introduction and Method:


    The SuperCard Lite’s main performance is in DS and GBA games thus I broke them down into two categories with comparisons on three games each. Two of the three games on each platform had been chosen from particular online forums, in which users seemed to experienced heavy slowdown and lag. The other two, games from each platform, had been chosen from my library of games, in which I own a real copy, so that I had a control product to test flashcart vs. real cart performance. I also tested the Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow introduction video which is last test in the “DS Game Performance” category.

    I tested each DS game at their “slowdown points” which is where the flashcart user usually experiences slowdown or lag. I tested each slowdown point with the both flashcarts, each with both flash media variants for each type (microSD & miniSD), to figure out which produced the best end result and less slowdown. For each game and test I named the slowdown points then listed the results according to flashcart and memory type used. I then rated my results on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best possible solution resulting in no slowdown or lag. The games tested in which I own a copy of contain a (*) and will show up in the results as a test item.

    GBA games were tested a bit differently as they tend to have slowdown all over rather than in certain parts or areas. Albeit some games only have slowdown in certain areas most have them throughout the game which can make some titles almost unplayable. I thought the best way to rate GBA games would be by rating their overall performance though one hour of gameplay. GBA games are still rated with the same system as above and were also tested using multiple flashcart and memory combinations. Memory speed should not have any effect on gameplay as GBA games are loaded into the SuperCard’s onboard RAM before play unlike DS game which are ran directly from the memory card.

    For test results that measure speed or access times I used a stopwatch and recorded the seconds and milliseconds, then compared and averaged the results. Other results were measured with the naked eye or flashcart side by side comparison with the DS and DS Lite. All results were tested at least three times for consistency and all results are averaged. All ROMs are “U” (United States) version and were clean before patching.

    DS Game Performance:


    For DS game performance I tested some of the most graphically intensive and most popular games on the DS. Animal Crossing: Wild World, Tony Hawk: American Sk8land, and Metroid Prime: Hunters were all big releases on the system and almost every DS owner owns at least one of the games.

    Animal Crossing: Wild World*:

    Opening Credits after pressing start as “Welcome” type comes on the screen:

    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk 1GB microSD: 9/10
    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk Ultra II 1GB microSD: 10/10
    SuperCard miniSD with ATP ProMax 2GB miniSD: 6/10
    SuperCard miniSD with SanDisk 2GB miniSD: 4/10
    Real Game Cart: 10/10

    Exiting a building while holding any direction on the digital pad:

    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk 1GB microSD: 9/10
    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk Ultra II 1GB microSD: 10/10
    SuperCard miniSD with ATP ProMax 2GB miniSD: 7/10
    SuperCard miniSD with SanDisk 2GB miniSD: 5/10
    Real Game Cart: 10/10

    Load times while entering and exiting buildings and menu system navigation:

    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk 1GB microSD: 10/10
    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk Ultra II 1GB microSD: 10/10
    SuperCard miniSD with ATP ProMax 2GB miniSD: 9/10
    SuperCard miniSD with SanDisk 2GB miniSD: 8/10
    Real Game Cart: 10/10

    Tony Hawk: American Sk8land:

    Normal gameplay slowdown with music transitions:

    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk 1GB microSD: 9/10
    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk Ultra II 1GB microSD: 10/10
    SuperCard miniSD with ATP ProMax 2GB miniSD: 9/10
    SuperCard miniSD with SanDisk 2GB miniSD: 7/10

    Menu system navigation and load times:

    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk 1GB microSD: 10/10
    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk Ultra II 1GB microSD: 10/10
    SuperCard miniSD with ATP ProMax 2GB miniSD: 9/10
    SuperCard miniSD with SanDisk 2GB miniSD: 7/10

    Metroid Prime: Hunters*:

    Fast free-look (moving the screen around rapidly):

    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk 1GB microSD: 10/10
    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk Ultra II 1GB microSD: 10/10
    SuperCard miniSD with ATP ProMax 2GB miniSD: 9/10
    SuperCard miniSD with SanDisk 2GB miniSD: 7/10
    Real Game Cart: 10/10

    Multiple player battle in “Large” maps with high visibility and weapons fire:

    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk 1GB microSD: 9/10
    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk Ultra II 1GB microSD: 9/10
    SuperCard miniSD with ATP ProMax 2GB miniSD: 8/10
    SuperCard miniSD with SanDisk 2GB miniSD: 7/10
    Real Game Cart: 9/10

    Menu system navigation and load times:

    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk 1GB microSD: 10/10
    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk Ultra II 1GB microSD: 10/10
    SuperCard miniSD with ATP ProMax 2GB miniSD: 8/10
    SuperCard miniSD with SanDisk 2GB miniSD: 7/10
    Real Game Cart: 10/10

    Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow Introduction Video:

    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk 1GB microSD: 9/10
    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk Ultra II 1GB microSD: 10/10
    SuperCard miniSD with ATP ProMax 2GB miniSD: 7/10
    SuperCard miniSD with SanDisk 2GB miniSD: 3/10

    GBA Game Performance:


    For GBA game performance I tested the games that are most know for their slowdown problems on the SuperCard products. Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi's Island, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, and Metroid Fusion are all big releases that seem to have slowdown issues with SuperCard products in the past.

    Mario Advance 3: Yoshi's Island*:

    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk 1GB microSD: 9/10
    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk Ultra II 1GB microSD: 9/10
    SuperCard miniSD with ATP ProMax 2GB miniSD: 7/10
    SuperCard miniSD with SanDisk 2GB miniSD: 7/10


    Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga*:

    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk 1GB microSD: 9/10
    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk Ultra II 1GB microSD: 9/10
    SuperCard miniSD with ATP ProMax 2GB miniSD: 7/10
    SuperCard miniSD with SanDisk 2GB miniSD: 7/10

    Metroid Fusion:

    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk 1GB microSD: 10/10
    SuperCard Lite with SanDisk Ultra II 1GB microSD: 10/10
    SuperCard miniSD with ATP ProMax 2GB miniSD: 9/10
    SuperCard miniSD with SanDisk 2GB miniSD: 9/10

    Results, Overall Performance, and Compatibility:


    As you can tell from the results above that the SuperCard Lite improves on the SuperCard product line eliminating slowdown in DS games and cutting GBA slowdown almost in half. My test results on the SuperCard Lite vs. miniSD version proves that even with far superior memory card speed and access times the miniSD version was no match for the Lite version with regular microSD memory. The clear victor in the performance battle is definitely the SuperCard Lite in combination with any type of microSD card you want to use as the difference is negligible. I personally prefer the faster flash media cards as it’s always great to have extra overhead bandwidth in case of “lag” and it speeds up transfer times when loading files onto the card.

    Overall performance of the SuperCard Lite with my other DS games was also flawless with no slowdown in even the most graphically intensive games. I threw, in total, about 60+ DS ROMs at the SuperCard Lite and all performed excellently with no problems saving, loading, or changing games. Wifi games also gave me no trouble and all played smooth as a real game cart. And as I had said before the load times for DS games are now instant which gets you into the game and playing much faster!

    GBA game support was also dead on except for the few games that the SuperCard is know to have problems with. And even then the slowdown and lag has been reduced quite dramatically to a fraction of what it was on previous models. I tested over 30+ GBA ROMs and I’d say only two or three had slowdown while the rest played as if they were in a GB SP. I had no problem saving or loading and now that GBA games load and save twice as fast I don’t mind starting up Harvest Moon or GTA for a few games now and then.

    Homebrew is basically free applications and games, so you definitely want a flashcart that will play homebrew and play it well. The SuperCard Lite played Moonshell, DSOrganize, REIN, ScummVM, beup, most emulators, and every other application and game I tested without a hitch. All ran with no errors and all saved properly without any issues or slowdown. There are a few games and applications that didn’t work but from their websites it seems that updates are on the way. To use homebrew on the SuperCard Lite there is a “moonshell” patcher that is included with the software update archive and is very easy to use and get running. Previous SuperCard products have always had excellent homebrew support and the SuperCard Lite is no exception.

    The SuperCard Lite has the best DS save system of all the flash media solutions and really steals the some thunder from the M3 products. The SuperCard Lite saves directly to the flash media unlike other solutions, like the M3, which store them temporarily in memory to be written the next time the DS Lite is powered on. The SuperCard uses a save system exactly like a regular DS game cart in which you set it and forget it! The SuperCard Lite also uses the highly compatible “.sav” format and there is even a homebrew program which allows you to manage multiple saves for one game!

    The GBA save system is a bit different and requires a button combination. To use the RTS (Real Time Save) feature you press L, R, Select, and B all at the same time, then select “Save” which saves your game anywhere enabling you to start back at that exact point in time. To load a RTS game you must use the same method but choose “Load” and you will be brought back to where you were when you stopped playing. The normal save system also uses the same button combination with A in the place of B. Saving with this method works like a normal GBA game save, in the sense that you don’t have to use another button combination to load the game once you restart. After using the normal save method you just start your game and pick your save file and you’re done. The GBA save system uses the “.sav” format for normal saves, but also uses “.sci” format which is the RTS file.

    Conclusion:


    The SuperCard Lite is definitely the best flush fitting solution for the DS Lite. It’s DS and GBA game performance and compatibility is top notch and it also utilizes expandable microSD memory up to 2GB’s. Aesthetically it’s the exact same size as the DS Lite dust cover with front loading microSD access, perfect Polar White DS color matching, and at only $49.99 it’s the best bang for your buck! If have been sitting on the fence waiting for the M3 Lite to be released then wait no further as the SuperCard Lite is the perfect flush fitting DS Lite solution and is out now! After reviewing the SuperCard Lite it definitely deserves a 9/10 based on DS game performance alone but what you get is so much more.

    Pros:

    - Sits flush in the DS Lite GBA slot.
    - Same size as the DS Lite dust cover.
    - Faster than the miniSD/SD SuperCard versions when using high speed memory.
    - Compatible with all Nopass devices.
    - Real Time Save support.
    - Compression support.
    - Front loading microSD slot for quicker access.
    - Supports microSD cards up to 2GB’s.
    - NDS GBA linkage function.
    - Perfect Polar White DS color matching cart!
    - Almost 100% DS game support.
    - Easy to use software.
    - Regular software and firmware updates for better performance and compatibility.
    - Durable, high quality plastic mold.
    - Plays DS & GBA games, movies, music, pictures, EBooks and more.
    - FC, NES, SNES, GB, GBC, PCE, SEGA-MS & GG systems support with emulators.
    - Great Homebrew support.
    - DS and GBA games load and save twice as fast as previous SuperCard models.
    - Best DS game save system.
    - Best bang for your buck at just $49.99!


    Cons:

    - Hard to pull out of the DS Lite.
    - No transparent glossy layer like the DS Lite dust cover.
    - GBA performance could be improved.
    - Should support FAT32 by now.
    - No extra cart colors as of yet.
    - Menu system is dated.
    - No RTC feature.
    - No internal battery.
    - NDS GBA linkage function needs work.
    - Since microSD slot is front loading it could fall out.
    - Doesn’t work in the DS Phat.
    - GBA saving is tricky for newcomers.



    Final Review Score: 9/10



    Product: SuperCard Lite
    Supplied by: www.SuperCardStore.com
    Manufactured by: SuperCard
    Special Thanks: MaxConsole.net & SuperCardStore.com
    Guide to Homebrew and Flashcarts: Click here!
    Reviewer: FifthE1ement (bdrangel@hotmail.com)
    Date Reviewed: August 17, 2006
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page