By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
ith all the really weird geek toys coming out these days (heck, that's why this column's here) you have to wonder why nobody thought up the JAM!! earlier.
JAM!! (yes, that's really what it's called) is this little box that you plug into your favorite console system, and your monitor. Turn on the box, and voila! You're playing console games on your PC monitor. Sound kinda cool? It is.
Note, of course, the word "kinda" there. :)
JAM!! is a product that fills a specific need. Let's say you're a college student who lives in a dorm (not really a stretch for me, granted). Lets also assume that your father just won't let you bring that 27" television with you when you leave the nest. But, you still want to bring that PlayStation with you, since you're horribly addicted to Final Fantasy and just can't bare life without it.
So what do you do?
Well, that's why you get a JAM!! That's why the fine folks at AIMS made the thing. When all's said and done...I can't think of any other reason why you'd need it.
So how's it work? Pretty well, all things considered. It does what it's supposed to. One quick caveat: while theoretically it should work with just about any console system, you'll need to get an adapter for older systems...since the computer monitor runs in a much higher resolution than a television (more on this in a bit) the JAM!! only accepts an S-Video input. PlayStation owners needn't worry...the package comes with a special cable, and most other systems can do S-Video natively. Older systems (SNES, Genesis, etc) will require you to purchase an S-Video to composite adapter. You should be able to find one at any local Radio Shack for a couple of bucks, so it's not a big deal or anything.
Of course, the upside of this, is that you'll be able to hook up a DVD player and get spectacular quality. And of course, when the Dreamcast eventually arrives, this baby's all set to go.
The JAM!! will actually work much better with a DVD player or Dreamcast, since both of those are designed to be viewed in high resolutions. Unfortunately, the PlayStation and N64 can't make that claim. The result? Expect some pretty blocky images. It's not too bad or anything, and in truth you get used to it after a while, but those systems will always look better on a television (of course, with Nintendo's recent announcement of their RAM expansion, it'll be interesting to see how higher resolution games look on a PC monitor).
The whole thing works via a passthrough cable, and those of you with 3DFX cards needn't worry...it doesn't conflict. My one complaint on this end, is that the monitor output cable is a bit loose...from time to time you'll need to jiggle it or end up with a green tint on your desktop. What was somewhat baffling to me, is that while the video works via a nice passthrough cable, the audio does not. So while you're at Radio Shack buying that other cable, be sure to pick up an audio splitter so you can leave the PC speakers connected.
The audio sounds great coming through PC speakers (especially if you've got a killer setup) but I didn't notice any major advantage over my big ass television. :)
Once you've gotten all the the right cables in place, it's kinda fun to have hooked up. Because I've got the audio split, I can play my favorite console games, and still hear when I get e-mail. Very nice.
The bottom line is, though, that if you've got a nice television and plenty of space for everything, there's no reason why you need a JAM!! at all (unless you feel the urge to own every toy that comes out...which is understandable, I suppose). But, if you live in a dorm room, this might just be the box of your dreams. Of course, at $80 it might be beyond the budget of the average college student. Oh well...there's always Christmas. ;)
- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief here at loonygames.
|Credits: Bargain Bin logo illustrated and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. Geek Toys is © 1998 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is a majorly hostile gesture.|