In 1998 Nintendo launched the Game Boy Camera, a tiny (at the time) digital camera that sat in the Game Boy's cartridge slot and took simple monochrome photos that could be edited and printed via the link cable and an optional Game Boy Printer, using a roll of thermal printing paper similar to a till receipt. In the years that followed, MadCatz released a device allowing backup of photos using a parallel port interface, however since then there has never really been a straightforward way to back up and share photos easily in this age of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Until now, that is.
Being sold directly by its manufacturer, small upstart company gameboyphoto, BitBoy is a tiny, unassuming black box that holds the key to accessing your photos from that Game Boy Camera, backing up images to SD card and allowing you to share wherever you like.
The initial run of 100 units becomes available mid-October. We got our pre-order in as soon as they opened up and, following discussions with gameboyphoto we were fortunate enough to be sent a unit early. There's always that fear when committing to an investment in a brand new product such as this, and with a $65 price tag it does seem to be asking a lot. When you receive the BitBoy, it feels very much like a short-run product. Dieter Rams stated that "good design is unobtrusive" and the BitBoy is about as unobtrusive as it gets. The case is 3D printed, with a matt black finish and no logos or fancy styling. It's a black box, albeit a very compact and neatly produced one.
It comes with all the necessary cables for charging and connecting to a variety of Game Boy models (apart from the original DMG Grey Game Boy, for which a separate cable is available) as well as a 4Gb SD card to back up your pictures from the off. The bundle is straightforward and contains everything you need, arriving fully charged for use and including a PDF of the instruction manual on a separate SD card. In fact, our only slight criticism of the product is that we feel the instructions could be a little more in-depth; however they are very clear and straightforward, helping the user get up and running as soon as possible. We expect the instructions to evolve as the BitBoy builds a community of enthusiastic users.
The real payoff with the BitBoy, and the part that really starts to justify the price tag, is the convenience and ease of use. It promises to make backup simple and it does that by operating with no external power supply, transferring images to PC, Mac or mobile devices with no drivers required. It switches on automatically when connected to the Game Boy, and there are two neatly-housed status LEDs to let you know what's going on. When disconnected from the Game Boy, it powers down automatically.
The internal rechargeable battery takes around five minutes to charge and lasts a long time (we haven't needed a second charge yet and we've used it for the past week), enabling on-the-go backup of photos with no need for a computer or power supply. This means you can fill the camera, back up the photos, then clear space and shoot some more. The option to batch upload pictures is a real bonus too. It works by essentially fooling the Game Boy into thinking there is a printer connected – "print" a photo and it saves automatically to the SD card. Use a micro SD card with adapter or a suitable OTG card reader and you can upload pictures to your phone or tablet with ease.
BitBoy extracts full, uncompressed bitmaps from the Game Boy Camera. These images are tiny. When uploading to apps such as Instagram, the app's compression software can cause the images to look a little blurry. However, opening in an editing app such as Pixlr and then taking a screen shot allows for a much better image to upload with no access to a computer required. You can also, of course, use programs such as Photoshop to edit and resample pictures as required.
From one point of view, it's surprising that it's taken this long for someone to introduce a device like this, which makes the Game Boy Camera more of a must-have accessory for the retro enthusiast. From another point of view, it might be seen as foolhardy to introduce such an accessory for a long obsolete piece of technology. The fact is that this was clearly no mean feat and now, thanks to the clever design of the BitBoy, consumers will be able to retrieve long lost photos and breathe new life into cherished childhood technology. Happy snapping!
BitBoy launches on 15th October and can be pre-ordered here.
Oh. Um....okay. Very, ummmm....useful?
Where can I order this 15 years ago?
That's very cool, but it's too late.
I'm pretty sure my Gameboy Camera has failed, I can no longer boot it up and I doubt the save data is there any more.
I did have pictures I'd have liked to retrieve as well.
@SuperWiiU Love it
I've been waiting for somerhibf like this for sooooo long. Awesome!
Omg, this is exactly what I needed! Time to save up the money. Hopefuly they will make more of these.
I used to play with the GB Camera a ton, and still have most of my old pixtures saved to it from like 16 or 17 years ago. I would love to save those pictures, but not for 65 dollars right now. I am struggling to even consider buying games as it is.
Yes, I love it. Still use my Gameboy Camera so this will be very helpful
Note: Do not confuse with the WiiWare game or 3DS sequel.
If we're talk'n about fringe useless tech here, I wouldn't mind a box that would instantly upload your GameBoy camera to Instagram. I'd even consider paying $10 for it.
I love my Game Boy Camera, but I don't think I use it enough to justify the price. Definitely cool though, would love a better method of backing up photos than taking pictures of the TV with the Super Game Boy.
Very slow news day when a product is being advertised that only would have been possibly useful 15 years ago.
@Geonjaha It's a product many fans have been waiting for. For Retro-Nintendofansthis is interesting news. I actually ordered one...
If it wasn't so expensive, it'd be a must have for me... >_<
This is really cool. My friend had a Game Boy Camera and I was so jealous. I wasn't allowed one.
At long last!
Didn't expect to see Dieter Rams name checked! A+
Got my pre-oreder in, looking forward to it.
Sweet! Now I can finally back up all those photos I never took with a Gameboy Camera that I never had....
Thank you for the heads up! Pre-ordered.
I might consider getting this at some point, I took photos of my grandparents back when it first came out using it. They're gone now, so it might be nice to actually be able to preserve the photos on a newer medium. The cartridge still has the pictures saved, but for how much longer, I know not...
I loved my Game Boy Camera! I didn't like that you could only save 30 photos at a time (I took it to Philadelphia for a school trip and quickly filled up the memory). I like the idea of Bitboy, but I feel like it's for one of two audiences in the era of smartphones and multiple camera effects: folks who still regularly play Game Boy Camera and can now finally save the photos they take to a computer (SNES, Super Game Boy, VGA cord, VGA cord, screen capture software notwithstanding); and artists who are drawn to the quirky, yet enduring nature of the camera for their shots (like how video game tunes are a popular subgenre of music (chip tunes), so could Game Boy Camera photos become a subgenre of photography, celebrating the tools in video games as an art medium even further).
THROWING MONEY AT SCREEN!
Maaaan... I had a ridiculously complicated method of saving the pictures from my Game Boy camera many years ago... so complicated (or at least tedious) that I probably never finished backing them all up. Also I stopped using the Game Boy Camera. But if I had had this thing back then, I probably would have kept using it.
@kitsunetails8 @chiefeagle02 @PlywoodStick @Meaty-Cheeky @MussakkuLaden BitBoy is Back ! www.gameboyphoto.bigcartel.com
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