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Newsdee

Analogue NT mini

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http://www.analogue.co/pages/nt-mini

 

It's considerably cheaper than the old one if you consider the price of the HDMI upgrade and a wireless receiver. Probably the right time to launch one given the NES mini is around the corner.

 

For those who do not lile the price check out the AVS from RetroUSB.

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I don't really understand the attraction of these things, except it's like a love-infused homebrew project maxed out on technical luxury. Beautiful, (perhaps) fully functional, but completely impractical.

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I just noticed it uses an FPGA which is good in a way (no consoles will be cannibalized for it), but also kind of bad in that it's almost the same as the AVS and no longer a limited edition (i.e. they can make as many as they want).

 

Basically for $275 more you get that aluminum shell, RGB out and audio out, 1080p on HDMI, and the wireless adapter. It does look great on the shelf and if it's as good as the original it will play great as well.

 

But no, it's not for everybody. I'd only recommend this to hardware purists that wished their NES had better video output display, as alternative to getting their original modded by somebody.

Edited by Newsdee
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It's interesting that their lead electrical engineer is Kevin Horton (yep, good ol' Kevtris). Does this mean Kev would rather do separate devices instead of his unified Zimba 3000 console?

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$449.

 

/facepalm

 

It's interesting that their lead electrical engineer is Kevin Horton (yep, good ol' Kevtris). Does this mean Kev would rather do separate devices instead of his unified Zimba 3000 console?

 

The man's got to eat just like the rest of us.

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$449.

 

/facepalm

 

 

The man's got to eat just like the rest of us.

I do that facepalm everytime I think about buying a cib Atari Jaguar since I only like one or two games . I just check ebay and ...

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I do that facepalm everytime I think about buying a cib Atari Jaguar since I only like one or two games . I just check ebay and ...

 

Wait until you see what Jaguar CDs are going for now.

 

:woozy:

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But hdmi sometimes also looks blocky and pixilated.

 

Also will this play castlevania 3?

It has several filter and scanline options, and yes it will play both Castlevania 3 and Akumajou Densestsu because that's what most people will try first to test how compatible it is :D

 

(also, because it works fine on the previous model; the necessary extra handling was implemented by Kevtris there)

Edited by Newsdee

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I think Analogue Interactive makes some very nice products. However I have a question about this one. If it's using similar FPGA hardware to the AVS, what justifies the $450 price tag? This is a serious and totally respectful question. Their NT was just oozing with style, truly beautiful design, but is that reason enough to justify the higher price tag?

 

In regards to the competition, I have to say that the guy behind the AVS is the most dedicated and obsessive NES fan I have ever met in my life. I only met him briefly at PRGE last year, but I've been following his posts on another forum for almost a year now. I can definitely say that his dedication lends a great deal of credibility to his product. This is definitely the guy I want making my next gen NES hardware.

 

So I'm just trying to figure out how Analogue Interactive is going to position their new hardware against the cheaper AVS and the NES Mini. Again, I have tremendous respect for the folks at Analogue Interactive. They make fantastic products, but in this case I think they're facing an uphill battle.

 

Also this is a question you purists might be able to answer. Wasn't there a reason why the folks at RetroUSB limited their AVS console to 720p? I'm certain there was no limitations to their technology. I have been discussing the AVS on this forum and elsewhere on the web, so I might be losing track of where I'm hearing all this info. Can anyone answer these questions for me?

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It's interesting that their lead electrical engineer is Kevin Horton (yep, good ol' Kevtris). Does this mean Kev would rather do separate devices instead of his unified Zimba 3000 console?

 

It has an SD slot for firmware updates. So, he could probably offer the Core Store for it if he wanted to.

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Also this is a question you purists might be able to answer. Wasn't there a reason why the folks at RetroUSB limited their AVS console to 720p? I'm certain there was no limitations to their technology. I have been discussing the AVS on this forum and elsewhere on the web, so I might be losing track of where I'm hearing all this info. Can anyone answer these questions for me?

 

It might be because 1080p doesn't provide much of a perceivable difference to the eye when upscaling 240p signals as opposed to 720p. At least, this is my experience switching between the two on my Framemeister.

 

Something else that occurred to me while writing is that 720p is a perfect 3X upscale of 240p, while 1080p is not. This is purely speculation, but incorporating 1080p and getting the aspect ratio correct may require more expensive hardware, and for a visual difference that's not that noticeable, it probably wasn't worth implementing. Just a wild guess anyway. :)

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Also this is a question you purists might be able to answer. Wasn't there a reason why the folks at RetroUSB limited their AVS console to 720p? I'm certain there was no limitations to their technology.

There is a major limitation in terms of size of FPGA chip being used, and minor limitations in features of a specific FPGA line (e.g. dynamic clocks, built-in RAM, etc). Bigger chip means more flexibility but it's much more expensive (going to hundreds of dollars for just one high end chip).

 

The NT is advertised to have a Cyclone V which is newer than the Cyclone III used in the MiST and the TC64 (so has some extra minor features), but it's not necessarily bigger. I'm guessing it will be smaller given the NES core of the MIST uses about half of the chip.

 

If they do release the NT with a bigger chip it could get exciting. Look at all that is done with an FPGA of ~25K LE already:

http://lotharek.pl/product.php?pid=96

 

For comparison the upcoming ZxUno FPGA board managed a NES core with only 9K LEs, and I suspect the AVS also uses the same chip (Xilinx Spartan 6 XC6SLX9):

http://www.zxuno.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=149

Edited by Newsdee
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I think Analogue Interactive makes some very nice products. However I have a question about this one. If it's using similar FPGA hardware to the AVS, what justifies the $450 price tag? This is a serious and totally respectful question. Their NT was just oozing with style, truly beautiful design, but is that reason enough to justify the higher price tag?

 

In regards to the competition, I have to say that the guy behind the AVS is the most dedicated and obsessive NES fan I have ever met in my life. I only met him briefly at PRGE last year, but I've been following his posts on another forum for almost a year now. I can definitely say that his dedication lends a great deal of credibility to his product. This is definitely the guy I want making my next gen NES hardware.

 

So I'm just trying to figure out how Analogue Interactive is going to position their new hardware against the cheaper AVS and the NES Mini. Again, I have tremendous respect for the folks at Analogue Interactive. They make fantastic products, but in this case I think they're facing an uphill battle.

 

Also this is a question you purists might be able to answer. Wasn't there a reason why the folks at RetroUSB limited their AVS console to 720p? I'm certain there was no limitations to their technology. I have been discussing the AVS on this forum and elsewhere on the web, so I might be losing track of where I'm hearing all this info. Can anyone answer these questions for me?

 

I'd have more respect for them had the Analog team been more upfront about what was under the hood of the NT. When it was announced, there was absolutely no data available anywhere that told me what they'd built, how they built it, or what it could do. Best guess was that they were literally harvesting old NES motherboards (this continued to be the most likely scenario until MONTHS after the release). On the other hand, you could read volumes on the stupid aluminum case, which means jack squat to me and IMO doesn't even look that appealing.

 

Now RetroUSB comes along with a system that does all the NT does, and more, AND they've had their specs out on Front Street since day 1. I knew exactly what I was getting with the AVS long before they offered to take my money. Between the two, I know who I'd rather be in business with. The fact that the AVS is cheaper is just a victory lap.

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I'd have more respect for them had the Analog team been more upfront about what was under the hood of the NT. When it was announced, there was absolutely no data available anywhere that told me what they'd built, how they built it, or what it could do. Best guess was that they were literally harvesting old NES motherboards (this continued to be the most likely scenario until MONTHS after the release).

 

I'm surprised you missed that ... I thought it was common knowledge that they were salvaging cosmetically ugly Famicom (not NES) machines for the first project. The only unique value was the Kevtris-designed HDMI output add-on, and the aluminum shroud, which as you point out, does nothing but drive up the price.

 

I'm not the target market for this, so I'll keep my other opinions about price and utility to myself.

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I'm surprised you missed that ... I thought it was common knowledge that they were salvaging cosmetically ugly Famicom (not NES) machines for the first project.

 

 

That was the best guess, but for the first few months, you couldn't squeeze a fact out of the Analog guys to save your life. Unless you wanted to talk about the case. From what I saw, it wasn't Mike Kennedy levels of smoke-and-mirrors, but they really didn't inspire me to part with half a grand.

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That was the best guess, but for the first few months, you couldn't squeeze a fact out of the Analog guys to save your life. Unless you wanted to talk about the case. From what I saw, it wasn't Mike Kennedy levels of smoke-and-mirrors, but they really didn't inspire me to part with half a grand.

 

I thought I saw it on their FAQ/About page ...though I have no idea when that was posted in the timeline of events. Speaking of which, this is a good overview of the NT: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1076624

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It depends a bit on the exact specs, Cyclone V is a line of chips, not a particular chip, but even the lower end Cyclone V chips are almost as expensive as the RetroUSB AVS as a unit.

 

As far as I can tell, the bill of materials for the Analogue NT mini is greater than the retail cost of the AVS(most because the FPGA chip Analogue is using is fairly expensive even in bulk).

 

Doesn't mean it's a good value, but it's price *seems* in line with its BoM, and not a total ripoff.

 

I'm getting both an AVS and I preordered an Analogue NT mini, so might do a comparison in the future.

Edited by Chocobro

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I wonder if they priced this thing out before they heard of the AVS? I mean, that machine has similar features and to a point the same strategy in hardware.

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I just checked on Digikey and it looks like the Cyclone V start at 25K LEs, which is pretty interesting as this is plenty of room for a NES core and more.

 

These chips cost $50 to $70 each on its own, compared to e.g. Spartan 6 at 9K LEs at about $20.

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Don't forget that the FPGA requires the NES Core, the Hi-Def NES mod (which is essentially another NES core) and the Famicom Audio Expansion. Even with greater efficiencies, Kevtris is probably coming close to the LE limit.

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Don't forget that the FPGA requires the NES Core, the Hi-Def NES mod (which is essentially another NES core) and the Famicom Audio Expansion. Even with greater efficiencies, Kevtris is probably coming close to the LE limit.

Yes, but the LE limit only affects what can be run at once. The MiST (for example) loads cores from SD card on boot which means you can reconfigure the entire thing at will. With 25K LE it can implement full 16-bit computers like an Amiga, Atari ST, and Macintosh Plus (granted, it doesn't do HDMI so it saves some space).

 

That said I don't expect Analog to allow "hackability" on this system as it might eat into future sales for other consoles in the future. We'll see.

Edited by Newsdee

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