The Difference Between the GameBoy Color & the GameBoy Advance SP Units

By Erik Devaney

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The GameBoy Color and the GameBoy Advance SP are hand-held, portable video-gaming units that Nintendo Co., Ltd. designed. While Nintendo released the GameBoy Color in 1998 as a follow-up to its original GameBoy, the company released the GameBoy Advance SP (Special) in 2003 as a follow-up to its GameBoy Advance. While the units offer similar button lay-outs, they have several differences in terms of design and performance.

Color Availabilities

Nintendo originally produced GameBoy Color units with berry, dandelion, grape, kiwi and teal hardware colors, and later produced an "atomic purple" unit. In comparison, the original GameBoy Advance SP units came in one of two colors: platinum and cobalt blue. Later unit colors would include flame, graphite, midnight blue, onyx, pearl blue and pearl pink. With GameBoy Color and GameBoy Advance SP units, Nintendo also produced several limited edition unit colors and designs, such as the Pokémon Gold/Silver GameBoy Color and the Pikachu Yellow GameBoy Advance SP.

Form Factor And Dimensions

Just like a standard GameBoy unit, the Nintendo GameBoy Color unit has a candy-bar or block form factor, which means it has no sliding or folding parts. In contrast, the GameBoy Advance SP unit has a folding form factor: the unit's screen folds down when not in use, much like a miniature laptop computer. In the closed position, the GameBoy Advance SP has dimensions of 3.33 inches high by 3.23 inches wide by 0.96 inches deep. In comparison, the GameBoy Color has dimensions of 5.3 inches high by 3.0 inches wide by 1 inch deep.

Display Screen

The GameBoy Color and the GameBoy Advance SP utilize liquid crystal display screens. However, GameBoy Advance SP unit's screen has the added feature of using thin-film technology. TFT designates indivudal transistors to each of the screen's pixels, or squares of illumination, for optimized picture quality. While the GameBoy Color's screen is 2.6 inches -- as measured along the screen's diagonal -- and can provide a display resolution of 160 pixels by 144 pixels; GameBoy Advance SP's screen is 2.9 inches and can provide a display resolution of 240 by 160 pixels. The higher a screen's display resolution, the greater level of on-screen detail it can provide.

Power And CPU

The GameBoy Color unit derives its power from two, double-A batteries. In comparison, the GameBoy Advance SP runs on a lithium-ion battery, which users can recharge. For converting electrical power into useful graphics and audio processing functions, the GameBoy Color relies on an 8-bit Z80 central processing unit. In contrast, the GameBoy Advance SP relies on a 32-bit reduced instruction set computing CPU. The "bit" measurements in both instances refer to data widths or how many lanes of data the CPU can accommodate simultaneously.