About a week ago I stumbled across a NES clones on Aliexpress called "Coolbaby". It's basically a miniature NES clone, not unlike the NES Classic, with 600 built-in games. It was so small and cute I just had to buy one. Let's take a quick look at it, and have a peek inside.
The console is shipped with two controllers, a MicroUSB power supply and an AV video cable. An HDMI version exists, but unfortunately I didn't see that listing before buying this. With a price tag of just $20 I can afford to upgrade to the HDMI version later. Oh, and before you ask, the cartridge door does not open. It's simply a groove for decoration purposes.
It's in fact so small and cute I admit that is the main reason I bought it. It's kind of hard to show on a two-dimensional screen, but here it is with an iPhone 4 for comparison:
The image quality is good, but the colors appear to be a little off. Looks over-saturated with a hint of pink. With a little luck an onboard resistor DAC may be configured wrong, but I'll look into that.
Opening the console is pretty straight-forward. Remove the rubber feet and unscrew four phillips screws and you're in. Prior to opening it I had no idea what to expect, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this clean, neat, single-sided PCB inside:
And yes, it really is single-sided. Here is the bottom side of the board.
The PCB consists of two components. A S29GL512N11TFI02 512mbit flash ROM, and what's probably a NOAC (NES On A Chip) or a variant of it, packaged as chip-on-board and drowned in epoxy resin.
U2 is the IC that interest me the most. I suspect it can be dumped and/or reprogrammed, and I intend to do so. There are tons of test points to hook on to, and with a little luck I may be able to replace the entire IC with something I can reprogram via USB.
Well, that's it for now. I'll probably experiment with the hardware as soon as time allows it.
The console is definitely worth the money, and if you're looking for a quick retro fix, go buy one - just make sure you get the HDMI edition.