A lot of vehicles these days can be purchased with very good quality LCD video screens already installed into the vehicle in various locations, depending on the type of car. There are also ready-made after-market TV install kits that often include a tube-screen device. Of course, there are also other custom install services available that can be as complicated and expensive as people are willing to spend. I would assume that on long trips with kids, the kids are going to need some entertaining and books just are not going to cut it anymore. Sometimes true portable consoles such as GameBoy or Game Boy Advance might not be an option. Now we can watch TV, DVD's, videos and more in our cars.
I've seen many discussions from people who want to take their console system and a TV with them to play in the car, and how should they go about achieving this goal. The answers vary, but almost all required expensive power inverters and many limitations on TV sizes. While these solutions seem good, they also seem overy complicated for most users as well as being inconvenient. I guess the new mobile AV systems do simplify some of the process by dealing with the video and sound portion of the equation, leaving just the video game console as the variable. Still, most people do not have AV systems in their cars and having to take along many bulky items becomes inconvenient and annoying, not to mention the hassle of hooking it all up. Nothing like being on the road and realizing an important part was left behind.
Putting the mobile AV systems aside, a few companies have come up with some great ideas for addressing mobile console support. I am going to focus on one product, but there are others out there. Intec has come up with a great little product that really took into consideration just about everything one could think of for mobile console support. Intec has come out with a 5-inch TFTP LCD screen that attaches to the handle of your GameCube and folds down over the top. When folded down over the top of the GameCube, it looks almost like a part of the GameCube. When attached, it is securely fastened to the GameCube, and it also removes very easily.
This screen is extremely sharp. There have been times where I have just chosen to play the GameCube with the Intec screen rather than play it through my home theater. There is absolutely no blurring and gameplay is enjoyable. Intec claims the image on their screen is better than the TV. Small text is a pain to read, but that is a common problem with any small screen, tube or otherwise. There is a brightness control should you need to adjust it.
While this device is designed and intended for the GameCube, it is not exclusively for the GameCube. You could use it with video cameras, VCRs, DVD players, even other video game consoles. Intec provides for the GameCube, a dedicated cable that goes from the GameCube AV port directly to the screen. Intec also includes a special cable that covers video and stereo audio into a single 1/8"-plug and an appropriate AV port on the side of the video screen. Simply flip the switch to choose the input you need to use. The only limitation is that the input is composite video and not S-Video, SCART, RF or RGB. Because part of having A/V input is Audio, the screen includes two speakers for stereo sound and two 1/8"-stereo headphone ports so two players can enjoy gaming without having to bother others. Other than the speakers are small, they output a pretty good sound. Of course, with small speakers, low frequencies are not able to be reproduced. The headphone plugs are not subjected to those limitations as those plugs will deliver full range audio to your headphones.
On the back, the GameCube AV input has already been mentioned via an adaptor hardwired to the Intec screen. Power is much more flexible and I am an delighted with the creativity used in creating this system. Intec does not include an AC adaptor for their screen because one is not necessary. Power is derived from one of two sources. The screen itself is powered via a coaxial type connection. This is the typical round plug with a hole in the middle. At the same time, the GameCube has a keyed 2-pin connector. Intec provides a short adaptor cable for powering both systems at once via one power source. This adaptor cable accepts the power coming from the GameCube power supply and then splits it; one lead going to the power for the screen, the other continuing on to the GameCube. For mobile applications, Intec has provided a cable that goes right from the accessory power/cigarette lighter port in the vehicle to the adaptor cable. This cable is small, compact and fuse protected. Because there is no transformer involved, it is really just a 18-guage cable with special connectors on each end and that is why I said it is small. The screen also has a power on/off switch so you do not have to unplug the power adaptor cable all the time.
Finally, the screen does come in a choice of colors, either black or indigo. I have a black GameCube, so I chose a matching colored Intec screen. I would recommend you purchase the screen in the same color as your GameCube so you get a nice uniform look. However, feel free to mix and match if you want to.
As I have suggested, you do not need to use this in a mobile-only setting. The power adaptor cable does make mobile use very simple. However, since this combination of Intec screen and GameCUbe console will work just fine using the AC adaptor for the GameCube. If there is not a spare TV in the house and some people want to play games while other people are watching TV, this screen provides a really nice solution to this issue.
One last item that I think is really neat is that you do not even need the GameCube to use this device, although it certainly helps. You can remove the screen from the GameCube and push the screen all the way back. When you do this, the part that snapped into the GameCube handle becomes a base for the screen. You will still need the car accessory cable or a GameCube power supply in order to provide eletricity to the unit. The base is not that big so it is not very stable, but if used on a flat and level surface it will work just fine.
In summary, in my opinion, this is a really neat product. It is rather cost-effective, easy to use and looks great. It has a lot of features and for those with more imaginative minds, a lot of alternate uses other than just video games. It includes everything you need to go mobile and attach additional devices to. This is a well thought out product that was designed obviously with a broader vision than just being used as a single application device. I would assume that if they make a similar device for other console units, it would have the same features and be just as good.