• Why and How?

    Mal'oo03/21/2014 at 02:50 0 comments

    Unlike the older Game Boy and Game Boy Pocket, the Game Boy Color and it's successor, the Game Boy Advance can't be backlit. Why? I'm not entirely sure. I've pulled the screen apart to attempt it, and when lit from behind, the screen makes barely visable ghost-like images. Certainly not the quality needed to play a game!

    So the only solution is to Frontlight the display. Nintendo did this on their first model of the Game Boy Advance SP, and the most common way to add a frontlight to a Game Boy Color is to use the glass panel from the SP, and fit it into the color. The disadvantage being, this is itself a classic device, and you need to find a broken one to steal one from, or waste a perfectly good Game Boy, which is something I take issue with!

    Another option is to buy an aftermarket frontlight. These are available legitimately in one place that I'm aware of, Kitsch-Bent. These frontlights are, while effective, rather crude, and make the screen a fair bit more difficult to see. I'm happy that there's a website selling them at all, but I want something much more clear, like the Game Boy Advance SP's panel.

    So this got me to thinking. Frontlit displays remain very rare to this day, with little development going into the technology, save for in one important area. E-Ink displays also cannot be backlit, and they're the display of choice for modern e-readers. There are three e-readers on the market with frontlights on their displays: The Kindle Paperwhite, The Nook Glowlight, and the Kobo Glo. All three use a thin film over the screen with tiny waveguides on the underside to spread the light over the display while keeping transparent from above. Just what I'd need to light up a Game Boy Color.

    Only way to find out if it'll work is to try it. Waiting for the broken Kobo Glo I picked up from ebay to be delivered