I feel like somewhat of a moron. Yesterday a box arrived in the mail, and I quickly noted it to be POKEMON RUBY, and I assumed the other bluish looking thing in the box was POKEMON SAPPHIRE. I wasn't in a giant rush to play the games, and figured I would get to them eventually. So this afternoon I'm unpacking the boxes, and I suddenly realize that the blue package wasn't a POKEMON game, rather, the new Game Boy Advance SP.
The Game Boy Advance SP is the first new model of the Game Boy Advance. There are no system, upgrades, so it's fully compatible with all other Game Boy software (and the old Game Boy Advance is not outdated by this new model). So why do you want to pick up this new model after already owning a Game Boy Advance?
The first, and most important aspect of the GBA SP is its screen. While the screen is the same size as the Game Boy Advance screen, this one is front-lit, meaning you will never have to squint to see your screen again. And if you happen to have a lot of sun or something, you can also turn the front light off. I took the GBA into the bathroom to check out how it looked in the dark, and the unit looked beautiful. The light alone makes this GBA more than worth the $99 price tag if you like portable gaming.
There is much more to this new Game Boy than just the lit screen. In addition, the game features a rechargeable battery pack. No longer will you have to replace your batteries all the time. Now you just have to plug the unit in. According to Nintendo, the unit will last for 10 hours after recharging for three, and if you disable the light, the life extends to 18 hours. Nintendo tends to be a tad conservative on these estimates usually (considering their Wavebird estimates were low) so you may get more juice than just that.
In addition to the excellent battery-pack, the unit also features a much better speaker to output the sound. The only downer is that there is no longer a headphone jack. This is the major disadvantage, although you can order a headphone adapter separately. While this is somewhat irritating, it was the best way to keep the system as small as possible. I always recommend a set of headphones to get the best experience from your Game Boy, so this will probably be a worthwhile add-on.
The size of the unit is also a wonderful selling point. It's a clamshell unit where the screen folds upwards. When you have it shut, it's about half the size of a Game Boy Advance. If you fold it open and rotate it, they're roughly the same size but the SP is a bit thinner. The SP is also a little bit lighter than its counterpart unit.
As a whole I'm very impressed with how tight this new Game Boy is. It's small, it's comfortable, and it's lit. Game, set, and match. If you're serious about gaming on the road, you owe it to yourself to pick one of these things up.