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EZ Flash IV Lite
Written by Janet    Wednesday, 17 December 2008 07:49    PDF Print E-mail

EZ Flash IV Lite

Introduction


This new "Lite" model of the EZ Flash IV, is simply a hardware re-design of the aforementioned product. The user interface and software is exactly the same as the original one. So I won't be covering software in this review. In this review I'll be taking a look at the hardware only.

Let's take a quick look over the features that this kit boasts:


Features of the EZ Flash IV Lite

  • Smaller than a GBA cart
  • Built-in Micro SD (TF) card slot
  • GBA/NDS Dual bootup loader
  • Supports firmware upgrades from the Micro SD (TF) card
  • MoonShell's multimedia functions (NDS): Supports Picture browsing, MP3 Player, and and Video Player
  • "NAND" bypass technology, games don't slow down
  • Comes with 3 shells (cases), so you can change the look of the cart

Now, let's take a look at the package!

Packaging and Contents

The EZ Flash IV Lite comes in a nice compact hard cardboard box, with a flap - that's magnetic! Genius.

The box design is a little bit dull and boring, and it's hardly the prettiest of colours, but it's a nice little box and holds everything together nicely. But, we didn't get the EZ Flash IV Lite to review the box, so let's open that up and see what we can find inside!

 

 

Box Contents

  • EZ Flash IV Cartridge (White)
  • EZ USB SD Card reader
  • USB male to female extension cable
  • 2 inter-changeable coloured cases (Navy and ice blue)
  • 2x spare cart stickers
  • One instruction card

So apart from the main cartridge, we have a USB SD card reader which is a great freebie! After all they didn't have to include it because no memory card is supplied, so it's a nice addition on their part. The card reader works just fine, and the inserted memory card just shows as an external drive in Windows. The reader should work on Macs and Linux fine but I can't test that.
They also include a USB extension cable, so you don't have to reach over to your computers base unit everytime you want to plug it in. With the extension cable you can just plonk it on your desk - another nice addition.

Two seperate cartridge cases are supplied, one navy and one ice blue, along with the white one pre-attached. This matches the three colour variations of the DS Lite currently available in Japan.
The cases don't have a glossy surface like the DS Lite, but the colours do match the DS's colours just fine. That is unless you have a black DS Lite like me, and have to settle for navy.

Two stickers are also included (one is already affixed to the white case) So if you want to decorate the spare casings with them; you can.

Also included is a small credit card sized note, it tells you to visit the EZ Flash website for the latest software and for support.
No manuals or instructions are included which seems odd. You would have thought that with a product that allows you to change the casing that they didn't provide any instructions for doing so. It's not rocket science, but some guidelines would have been helpful for those less learned than some of us!

 

 

The EZ Flash IV

Here's a look at the EZ Flash IV Lite in its original white casing:





The EZ Flash IV Lite comes pre-assembled in the white casing. The casing is made from a fairly tough, yet strangely flexible plastic.

The folks behind this cart spent their fair time designing it, and it was actually the first DS Lite dust cover sized solution available on the market.
I remember some comments they made, something along the line of "not being able to make the cart any smaller than it is, due to hardware limitations". Their faces must be red now.
Because of these "limitations" (slash lack of R&D); the EZ Flash IV Lite doesn't have quite the same form factor as the dust cover supplied with every Nintendo DS Lite.
The EZ Flash IV Lite casing stands approximately just less than 1mm taller than the original Nintendo dust cover as you can see in the photos below. (Sorry I don't have a white dust cover to compare it to).





As you can see the difference isn't really visible to the naked eye when just looking at the casings, but you can notice the slight difference when the cart is inserted into a DS Lite. You can even see a little bit of the screw popping out.



The two different coloured casings that are suppled with the EZ Flash IV Lite are included in a seperate bag underneath the inner tray of the box. They are supplied dismantled and extra screws aren't included.
If you want to change the casing on your cart, it is very easy. Here are the steps for doing so (none are supplied by the manufacturer!):

 

Changing the EZ Flash IV Lite Casing
  1. Peel off the serial number sticker attached to the EZ4L (don't worry - a copy of the S/N is also attached to the box)
  2. Using a small philips head screwdriver, remove the screw from the casing completely (don't lose it)
  3. Slide the front (labelled side) of the cartridge case downwards to unhook it
  4. Remove the front casing (may prove difficult as the battery is wedged inside the front casing)
  5. Carefully lift the PCB out of the bottom casing - try only to touch the sides of the PCB and try not to touch the chips or place them on any static surfaces (eg. carpets)
  6. Replace the PCB into the new coloured casing
  7. Place the new front casing down and try to wedge the battery in between the gaps (be careful not to snap the battery off!)
  8. Find the hook on the left hand side of the top casing (label side facing you) and hook it under the catch on the bottom part of the casing
  9. Slide the top casing up until it is flush and held in place
  10. Replace the screw in the back of the casing (remove any excess plastic from the screw thread).




I have a European Black DS Lite, and unfortunately no black case is supplied with this kit so I had to settle for the navy one. And to be quite honest, in normal lighting conditions you can barely notice the colour difference. It's only when you get them both in direct sunlight or any bright light that it's noticeable, and even then it doesn't exactly look bad. So the navy casing does the job just fine.

One thing I noticed when changing casings is the way the two halves of the plastic casing interlock. There's only one actual hook on the left hand side, which does do it's job, but could have been a bit larger. Strangely there is no hook on the right hand side. There could have been one above the GBA cart contacts.
This minor point doesn't affect the cart, and it still fixes nicely together when screwed together tightly and certainly doesn't rattle around but a bit more thought could have been applied here.

Onto the micro SD section of the cart...





They opted for a side loading micro SD slot on the EZ Flash IV Lite this means in order to insert and remove the card you need to remove the EZ4L from your DS Lite, but on the plus side it's less likely to fall out when you don't want it to and get lost! If you've seen a micro SD card in person you'll know how incredibly tiny they are.

As for using the micro SD slot, let's just say it's not the easiest slot to work with. You're going to need incredibily small and nimble fingers to remove the micro SD card from the slot once it's inserted. The plastic opening around the slot is not nearly big enough for most people. There is no space underneath the card slot to get your finger/fingernail to lift it out and on top theres also not enough space to grab it with. It seems almost impossible to remove the card without an aid.
Fortunately I had a tiny pair of pliers handy that do the job pretty well, but I've seen on our own and other forums that people have resorted to modding the casing personally to make it easier. I tried this modification myself, and it really does help. It makes you wonder why the EZ Flash team didn't just make the hole bigger in the first place.

What the small mod involves is filing down the bottom part of the casing and widening the top part. You should use a small file or preferabely a small dremel. I didn't have a dremel so I had to resort to filing it down.

My results weren't aesthetically pleasing, but they certainly do make removing the micro SD card a hell of a lot easier.
Here's a shot of the before and after:





Once you get the grip on the tiny grooved handle on the top and bottom of the card removing it is easy.

I highly recommend doing this mod yourself to save yourself a lot of stress, or just invest in a tiny tiny pair of pliers.

Here's a couple of shots of the internals of the EZ Flash IV Lite...

As you can see everything is nice and neat, clean and tidy. It looks good. But I bet you'll find yourself looking for that 1mm they could have trimmed off!





The build quality of the PCB is good. The way the battery is fixed isn't so good, as it gets wedged quite firmly in a space between the top plastic casing, so take a bit of care when you're dismantling your EZ4L not to bend the battery out of place too much which COULD result in the solder legs snapping.

Conclusion

The EZ Flash IV is a very good cart, and offers great NDS and GBA compatibility and some nice features. This new "Lite" re-design of the cart makes an already great kit even better and makes it appeal to a new audience.

Unfortunately this hardware re-design suffers a few flaws that prevent it from being perfect. Like the fact that it's not as flush as the original dust cover, and the annoyingly small micro SD slot.

These flaws might not have happened, had the product not been rushed into the market and instead spent a few more weeks in development.
It's a shame because the EZ Flash IV is a very good cart, and the Lite version could have had a lot more adopters if these issues weren't present when the cart first made retail months before any other Lite solution.

Still, the EZ Flash IV Lite is a tiny cart and looks good in a DS Lite, and is definetely worth considering if you're looking for a Lite solution.
The extras and different coloured cases included in the kit are great little bonuses that make the purchase more worthwhile.

Pros
+ First "Lite" solution on the market
+ Small form factor
+ Extra freebies included
+ Can be purchased cheap

Cons
- Doesn't quite sit flush in a DS Lite
- Micro SD slot almost impossible to work with without modification
- Build quality could have been better
- Lack of documentation

 

 

 



 

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