Amazon Kindle Too Expensive? Try this Free Media Player for the Nintendo DS
The Kindle's Great But Way Too Expensive!
Amazon Kindle Too Expensive? Try this Free Media Player for the Nintendo DS
My brother was showing me his Amazon Kindle book reader he got for his birthday and I must say it’s an amazing device. The fonts are crisp and very readable; although it could use a backlight option in my opinion (he uses a tiny book light at night to read so he doesn’t disturb the missus).
As great as the Kindle is, the price is too steep for my blood ($359.00 as of the date of this article) and I got to thinking about cheaper alternatives. One obvious eBook reader is installing mobipocket or Microsoft reader unto my pocket pc, (which I have done and its works well) but then again any decent pocket pc or palm device is going to set you back a more than few dollars. Also I found that the battery charge doesn’t last very long when I am reading (I use a MIO 550) 4 to 5 hours at best which doesn’t bode well for those long trips.
Then I remembered my daughter’s Nintendo DS game console which she outgrew. Perfect! It currently costs about $100 more or less, at the time of this article and with the plethora of homebrew programs out there for the DS platform it would make a great experimental vehicle.
CycloDS Moonstone Views
CycloDS with MoonShell Homebrew Program
After hours of research I finally settle upon getting a CycloDs card (read about it here: www.cyclopsds.com) mainly because of its simplicity of use. Most of the other memory cards require other patch programs in order to use the eBook reader (that raises the level of complexity) and since the cost is relatively the same it was a no-brainer of a choice.
Please note: I don’t work for cyclopsds.com or have any affiliation to them, I just like their product after having purchased one and I am sharing my results with you.
The CycloDs card comes with a Homebrew program called Moonstone (make sure you update the firm ware to the latest version) which includes a game folder, media folder and a misc folder. More about the folders later.
Installation is a snap, its just plug and play. When you plug the compact flash card converter (which contains the micro sd card ;I got the 4 gig microSD version) into the back of your DS ,it will automatically boot from that location and you will see the CycloDs start screen and by pressing A button twice or touching the bottom DS screen 2x it will lead you to the folders section. Currently the folders will be mostly empty except for changeable skins and default settings under the Misc folder. Now that you have established that the card is working, shut down your DS and take out the card and gently pull out the micro SD card from it and insert into the USB convertor that came with your package.
If you haven’t realized it yet you are now holding a DS platform with a mass storage system that you can utilize for music (mp3’s), ebooks and movies. The Moonshell program will easily allow you to play games, music, show photos and read books!
Ebook install and free ebooks
First plug the usb converter with the SD card inside into any usb port of your computer. After a few seconds your computer will recognize the usb device and ask you how
you want to treat the device. Select the “view folders” option and a window
will open showing the three folders currently installed.
If you haven’t already done so, you should convert your ebooks to text format and also create an ebook folder by right clicking in the folders area and choosing new folder (name it ebooks).
If you have a word doc. or text file you can drag and drop the file directly into the ebooks folder.
I have found that word docs, gives the Moonshell program issues such as a replacing unreadable areas with random garbage. I suggest you convert the entire word doc. to text by copying and pasting unto Notepad-this should get rid of the hidden html codes- and saving it as a ASCII text file. Then drag and drop the saved text file without the hidden codes unto the ebook folder.
If you have Microsoft LIT. format ebooks you can you this free program, ABC AmberLit to convert them to text. ABC Amber LIT Converter is an advanced utility which converts your LIT (Microsoft Reader) files to any format you wish (PDF, HTML, CHM, RTF, HLP, DOC, and many more) easily and quickly.
If you have other ebook formats and wish to convert them to text then read this article by wikipedia
Some of my favorite places to stock up on titles:
Now that you stocked up on your ebooks lets fill up the games folder.
First let me state while its very easy to google “DS ROMS” and find illegal copies of ds games which you can use, it is not recommended by me, instead you can legally back up the games that you own following the instructions on this YouTube video
Most of the DS games on the market today are 64 megs or smaller which means you can literally store over 50 plus game roms in the CycloDS system!
Also there is a great site that has Public Domain games for the Nintendo DS which you can download and copy over into your Games folder. They currently have over 200 plus games for your enjoyment.
Free Music for your DS
So far we have covered eBooks, games and now let’s explore the music capabilities of the Moonshell program.
It’s quite simple, just drag and drop your mp3 files (I haven’t tried other formats yet) into a premade folder called music. You should organize your music into lists you like and create subfolders for them unto your CycloDS card.
When you start the Moonshell program from the beginning, just touch the MEDIA folder and then head over to your music folder and pick your song you wish to start with, it will play that one and every other mp3 file below it. Just close the DS and listen through the earphones port with any headphones or ear buds.
The Moonshell program has so far played everything flawlessly.
NOTE; I did notice one thing, mp3 files encoded at 64kbs rather than 128kb seem to play at a much lower volume on the DS platform.
Now if you are interested in over 10 million plus songs that’s available free and LEGALLY check out either my hubpage or website directly for my reviews of the best free and legal music download sites (about 30) that you can load up on. You will be pleasantly surprised at the selection from mainstream songs like BEYONCE’s “Halo”,Britney Spears’s “Circus” to obscure classics such as Beastie Boys, Chuck D.
In short it’s my opinion that the Nintendo DS platform with the CycloDs system installed is an excellent media player choice for those on a budget, it’s less than half of the price for a Kindle and does a lot more.
The Nintendo DS/CycloDs provides better than average game play over a pocket pc/palm device because it’s designed specifically to play a wide range of games, acts as excellent mp3 player, a decent (not the best but adequate) eBook reader, and if want will play movies (movies must be converted into MPG format) that’s also available. So for about $150 bucks (current price of the DS and CycloDS add-on) you get a full blown dual screen system that will be the workhorse for those dreary hours.
Thanks for reading
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