Sunday, June 15, 2008

Acekard2 review

It's been a while since I got into DS homebrew. I'm not an early adopter by any means, I learned about the DS, and its homebrew potential late after the creation of the "slot-1" style cartridges came out. The previous generations had all sorts of differences like patching compatibility and how flush they were to the DS when inserted. Most slot-1 cards which are the newest generation, usually have 100% game compatibility, auto-patching roms, cheat support, and require standard microSD cards to work they're also all the size of a DS cart now too. The only recent important feature is SDHC support for larger microSD cards which most (including the acekard2) support. I'm reviewing the Acekard2 because after testing out multiple cards I've come to the conclusion that it's the card for me.

That being said I didn't know that much and bought a GBA-slot loading cycloDS. Needless to say it was crap. Right away I had problems patching and managing all my roms, not to mention low compatibility. It cost me a bunch of money and I was driven to look and see what other cards were on the market where I learned about the slot-1 solution. I needed a new card.

Knowing a bit more about the slot-1's I bought an R4. There are a plethora of other cards on the market that claimed to do different things, but most of them referred to the R4 and most people referred to it too. It was a nice card, good compatibility, but with an ugly interface with few options, not to mention being sold for twice the price of most every other cart (I did not know this at the time mind you).

So the R4 is fine for a while, but after a while I decided to get my girlfriend a DS, and of course a accompanying card to match. As I said the features were not a huge concern. So, saw some reviews for the DSTT and was interested, as it was cheap and easy to get. It was one of the best cards I had seen, with a nice interface and a cheap price. But once I had it I realized there were nagging problems, it seemed incapable of sorting things alphabetically. I'm not obsessed with organization but it's very hard to look through a list of 50+ games and find something if it's not actually organized in a logical fashion. I was frustrated, these cartridges are basically just front ends, and so many just weren't there. My girlfriend was fine with it, and if that were the only cartridge I would be too, but it's not!

Enter the Acekard2. I snatched one up pretty soon after its release. I liked the look of it and was interested by claims about its good interface. I checked its webpage and the firmware was updated often. They were not a clone and had made cards before (one small note is that I have tried the horrid N5 whose first-gen blew DS fuses and ran a hacked R4 interface). I thought the Acekard2 would be worthwhile to try as they cost about a as much as any other card that isn't the R4 or the Evolution. I've never tried the Evolution, but I can attest to the fact that the R4 is overhyped for something that costs 2x the price of the so called "budget" cartridges.

The Acekard2 is pretty good. All in all it's not the greatest. Essentially the interface is really nice. It's clean, there are several selectable views, and it includes and "ini" for a large amount of configuration. The skin that came with it was really sharp looking and even includes the calendar from the DS screen. A lot of other cards are skinnable, but I never saw such a sharp looking one included right off the bat. Also the actual browsing of the games is amazingly fast, much faster than every other card I have ever tried! This is really great for me because I keep my whole library on my microSD, so I can really easily browse through with the Acekard2, really sharp.

Like I said most features are standard. Everyone knows what other cards support and most recent cards do it. Here's a simple list. (Note: I tried to get the info from their website, but they did not have it at so I was forced to get the list from GBAtemp, a link is here:

• Perfect Compatibility. No need to convert, No need to flash.
• Write save file directly to TF card. No more save type selection.
• Auto patching DLDI. Run homebrew programs without convert.
• Support Soft-Reset. Support Download play. Support Wi-Fi.
• Support SDHC microSD card. No maximum file limit.
• Support Action Replay. Built-in editor.
• Low power consumption. Long playing time.
• Easy operation. Support pad and touch screen control.
• Multi-languages. Support Customize Skin.
• Support launch slot-2. Support expand package.
• 4 level brightness adjustment.
• Support reading text files, listening mp3 and watching movie.

I also like the design of the cart. Everyone puts the shell together the same, with little tiny plastic teeth that fit the two sides together and a miniscule screw in the center. The problem with these is whenever you open up the shell (for fun usually) the little tabs break of and I don't even think the screw actually does anything. The Acekard2 is neat because it uses little clips on the side in place of the previously mentioned.

Acekard2 is by no means perfect. It was a little tricky, the brightness defaults as the lowest, but I just had to check the ini. Also because my girlfriend has a DSTT I realized that the preliminary loading of the game list is much slower than it. In the end though it's slower to cycle through the list on the DSTT so it's a trade off I think as the Acekard loads everything all at once, while the DSTT loads each list item dynamically. It's also a little strange that the Acekard2 does not automatically load the cart on boot, and you must select it in the DS menu. It's described as a feature but I wish I just had the option.

What I really have to talk about is the microSD card reader. This microSD reader is different than all the rest. Every other included reader that I have seen was the same OEM'd reader that worked pretty well most of the time. This is a no frills tool that is just supposed you allow you to load the files onto your card. It looks as if the Acekard team took the time to design their own reader, but it's been very wonky for me. Instead of having a conventional USB head, it uses a PCB which is slid into a plastic case. The problem is that the PCB is thinner than the USB wafer and the offset was not quite right to actually allow the pins to make contact. I was a little miffed by this because I wasn't quite able to have the reader recognized unless I actually put the reader half-way in my usb slot. I shouldn't really have to deal with this and I hope this has been looked after.

All in all I have decided to stick with the Acekard2. No card is really perfect but it's clear that the Acekard team really went to work on making a product that fixed the many little nagging problems seen in other slot-1 teams projects. In some cases they solved the problem, while at the same time creating others, but were still able to have as many features as other, more expensive cards.


Blogger Daniel said...

This post contains the review of Acekard Flash Cards and Ace Card 2............

August 25, 2009 at 4:33 AM  

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