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Author Topic: RetroUSB AVS  (Read 1323 times)

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opt2not

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RetroUSB AVS
« on: September 20, 2016, 11:36:02 pm »
Recently picked up a RetroUSB AVS console and wanted to write-up a little review and first impressions for it.

I wasn't really planning on buying one of these, mainly because I already invested in RGB Modding my NES and have it hooked up to an XRGB Mini, but the price was right enough for an impulse-buy.  Figured I'd see how it stacks up in comparison to taking the more expensive route with modding an original console.

First things first, packaging.



Pretty simply designed box, no frills, nice bright red.
Inside, everything is securely divided, but the quality of the inside dividers are a bit flimsy and you can see from mine there was some crushing that happened during shipping from the small tear and crumpling in the middle.  No matter, the AVS is still in perfect shape but I figured I should mention it.


The AVS comes with an HDMI cable, a USB cable and a USB power adapter.  One of the things I love about this system is that it can run off the USB as the main power source. This is great for keeping cables tidy, and doesn't require an extra wall socket if your TV has a USB port for it to tap into.


The design of the AVS is pretty slick and pays homage to the original NES. Unlike other HD clone systems out there that try to pose as more than it is, the AVS has a humble design that is in tune with the history of the system it's honoring.  Even the build quality feels like an NES! Slightly thin plastic like the original, but still sturdy and solid.


Back of the console has 3 ports: HDMI for A/V, USB for power and firmware updating, as well as uploading high scores to an online Scoreboard. The third connector is a Serial port for Famicom Expansion.  But that online Scoreboard sounds awesome, can't wait to try it out!


Here's a picture of how a standard NES cart plugs into the system.


The slot itself has a vice-like grip, and games that are inserted work first try.  So no need to blow your carts...but you should NEVER BLOW YOUR CARTS. Blowing is not a proper solution to making your old NES games play reliably. BITD people blew on their cart PCB's, introducing a slight bit of moisture to the connection to get it to boot-up. But this only exacerbated the problem as over time your cart PCB's would accumulate film and rust!  The best thing to do is get a couple cotton swabs and some Isopropanol to rub the grim and dust build-up on the contacts. Don't worry about the label on the back of your cart warning you not to use anything but Nintendo's official Cleaning Kit. It's exactly the same thing, rubbing alcohol. They just wanted to make more money on their product line.

Anyway, unfortunately I don't have any Famicom carts on me at the moment, but there is another connector under the hood that takes the Japanese carts in a standing position. Not an ideal position for those who want to keep the lid closed, but oh well.

I should mention that the plastic matches my NES controllers almost exactly. There is even a slight yellow tinge to it, as if it were sun-kissed like my aging controllers.


The menu system is pretty straight-forward and understandable right off the bat.  5 options:  Start Game, Cheat Codes, Input Options, Video Options and Scoreboard.


The Video output is really nice. It's maxed at 720p, which is perfectly fine for the original resolution being upscaled since it multiplies cleanly. Also scanlines look great and you can change their intensity.


I should mention that when I use my RGB modded NES and XRGB-mini combo, I also to use 720p w/ scanlines on because it looks better on that set-up than it being upscaled to 1080p.

In terms of lag, I haven't noticed any. Playing RC Pro Am is a pretty twitch based game and requires some fine tapping of the d-pad for making some subtle turns around the curvy tracks. It felt great and just like the original. I will eventually test more games with this but so far it's perfect. On my XRGB set-up I do feel a slight feeling of lag, not that I've measured it, but the AVS could have a slight advantage in that department.

So far I think this is the best HD clone unit out there. The price is right, it sits in that zone of not being crazy expensive but not cheap that you fear the quality level. From a software standpoint the system options are all anyone really needs.  I would say that not being able to tweak these options without having to restart the system is a bit cumbersome, but hopefully this can be changed in a firmware update. Another thing I hope they add is a soft reset by pressing all the controller's buttons at once. This might go against the spirit of the NES console, but it would be a nice upgraded feature.

All in all I'm happy I impulse-bought this. RetroUSB has been a great product provider, and I still swear by the Powerpak for my NES needs. One thing I should mention, the service is excellent. I've sent multiple emails to them asking questions about this unit, as well as if they plan on updating their mappers for the Powerpak (which they plan to in the future - hoping for VRC7) and they've been promptly responsive within 24 hours.

To support their commitment to this system, RetroUSB also released a slew of homebrew games, one of which called Twelve Seconds looks the most interesting out of the bunch. I'll maybe pick it up later on to try out but for now I'm going to play some of my other games and see if I can put up a decent high score!

Feel free to add your experiences with this console, for those who picked it up.  Personally I think it's great.

gamepimp

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2016, 08:27:48 am »
Think the Everdrive is compatible with this clone?

Locke141

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2016, 09:22:51 am »
Thanks for sharing. It sounds like a winer. I like it looks.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2016, 09:24:34 am by Locke141 »

opt2not

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2016, 11:39:07 am »

Slippyblade

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2016, 01:21:52 pm »
$180?  Uh.. no thanks.  I'll stick to my RPi emulation box.

vwalbridge

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2016, 02:16:39 pm »
Excellent review opt2not. I've had my eye on this system and it was nice to have someone here review it. Instead of some random guy on YouTube who doesn't know what he is talking about.

Seems well worth it. Especially if you are looking to play original carts on modern TVs.  :cheers:

Howard_Casto

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2016, 02:18:29 pm »
$180?  Uh.. no thanks.  I'll stick to my RPi emulation box.

^This^

Although I'll just use a nes with regular av out thanks. 

opt2not

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2016, 02:58:00 pm »
Excellent review opt2not. I've had my eye on this system and it was nice to have someone here review it. Instead of some random guy on YouTube who doesn't know what he is talking about.

Seems well worth it. Especially if you are looking to play original carts on modern TVs.  :cheers:
It's definitely something that supports people who have a collection of original carts and like the idea of still using them.

I've been playing around with the Video Settings, and I really like the simple interface for changing the aspect ratio, adjusting the top cut-off, and toggling the left side for games that have that pixel garbage displayed.
The extra sprites option is really interesting too, it helps some of the more sprite intensive games flicker less. I'd like to do more tests on this feature and see what games benefit from it the most.


Also adjusting the expansion audio volume is kinda neat, for games that use that feature on the famicom carts.

vwalbridge

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2016, 03:09:11 pm »
The extra sprites option is really interesting too, it helps some of the more sprite intensive games flicker less. I'd like to do more tests on this feature and see what games benefit from it the most.

That's pretty cool! The flickering dropping spikes in MegaMan 2's Metal Man stage come to mind as a good test:


pbj

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2016, 04:47:12 pm »
Does it play Castlevania Legends 100%?

vwalbridge

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2016, 06:31:01 pm »
Does it play Castlevania Legends 100%?

It was only a matter of time before this question was asked.

Titchgamer

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2016, 06:14:13 am »
Out of interest where does the AVS name come from?

When I first read the title I was thinking something Neo Geo related lol


Howard_Casto

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2016, 09:05:41 pm »
I think I would have to know more about the internals.  It was my understanding that it used real NES hardware, but with that menu posted it makes me think all or part of it is emulated.  If that is the case then I don't see the point of it.... there are tons of cheaper ways to play nes games in hdmi. 

opt2not

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2016, 09:49:35 pm »
Depends on what your definition of FPGA implementation is.

pbj

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2016, 10:26:56 pm »
Well, obviously life is good in San Francisco.  But as much as we rip on the Pi around here, $75ish gets you in with a setup that solves all the major issues.  So what exactly is the point of this thing?  I'd be impressed if it supported light guns on a flat screen or something weird like that.


opt2not

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2016, 11:04:27 pm »
Mainly for playing original carts in HD. Like I said, impulse buy, but I like it for what it is.

pbj

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2016, 11:11:20 pm »
Toss a "Best of NES" cartridge in it and see how it does with the rom hacks.


Howard_Casto

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2016, 11:19:51 pm »
Depends on what your definition of FPGA implementation is.

I guess that depends upon how good the programming is.  The thing about fpga is it's only as accurate as the programming.  To do good fpga implementation for a nes they would have to fully understand the chips.... the cpu is pretty standard, but the ppu isn't.  So I would guess that it's 50-75% emulation, with the programmers just kind of winging it for the rendering. 

I think the styling on it is rather nice and the features are interesting... it's just that price point.  When you can buy a clone system for 19 bucks, it's a tad steep, even with the added features. 

thomas_surles

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2016, 11:30:34 pm »
As far as everdrive compatability, heated is a thread about it on the everdrive forum.
http://krikzz.com/forum/index.php?topic=5585.0

opt2not

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2016, 11:36:50 pm »
Mainly for playing original carts in HD. Like I said, impulse buy, but I like it for what it is.
Oh yeah the other point is the online high score uploading. It uploads it to Nintendo Age's scoreboard and they already have comps going on. Pretty awesome feature IMO.

BurgerKingDiamond

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2016, 11:52:54 am »
opt2not, how were you going to RGB mod your NES?

I bought viletim's kit a couple years ago and it works great (I think it was about $110). The mod itself is pretty easy. The hardest part is desoldering the one chip. The RGB mod combined with an Everdrive is pretty much as good as it gets.

This AVS looks pretty sweet though if you wanna play on a flatscreen vs. a CRT.

 
-Welcome to the Fantasy Zone.

gamepimp

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2016, 12:56:17 pm »
As far as everdrive compatability, heated is a thread about it on the everdrive forum.
http://krikzz.com/forum/index.php?topic=5585.0

From what I read in that thread, it seems like the issue might have been the guy's SD card and not the Everdrive right?

thomas_surles

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2016, 01:04:29 pm »
I believe so

opt2not

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2016, 02:06:01 pm »
opt2not, how were you going to RGB mod your NES?

I bought viletim's kit a couple years ago and it works great (I think it was about $110). The mod itself is pretty easy. The hardest part is desoldering the one chip. The RGB mod combined with an Everdrive is pretty much as good as it gets.

This AVS looks pretty sweet though if you wanna play on a flatscreen vs. a CRT.
Hey BKD!
Yes, I've already modded my NES jr. with viletim's RGB kit a couple years ago as well. I have it hooked up to a PVM, and once in a while to my XRGB-mini when I take it to friend's places if they don't have a RGB capable CRT. (<--- this is probably the reason I'll use the AVS, aside from the scoreboard)   




Even installed a MultiAV out port so I can use my SNES cables:


But that kit is only half the equation to getting clean RGB on an LCD, add the cost of an upscaler (depending on which one you get)  you are well over the price of the AVS.


Howard_Casto

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2016, 04:40:43 pm »
Eh I got a scart 2 hdmi adapter from aliexpress for 30 bucks and for rgb at least, it works great.  I've been using it for roughly 6 months, so I guess it's reliable enough as well. 

opt2not

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2016, 07:20:52 pm »
So, lets do the math:

NES console: $30 -50?
Viletim's RGB kit: $110 + install time
Viletim's 8-pin DIN to RGB SCART cable: $30
Chinese made SCART-2-hdmi adapter: $30
HDMI cable: $5 ?

You're looking over $200 here, depend on how you value your time cost on the install.

The AVS was $215 shipped. Doesn't come with controllers, so say another $20 for those.

Seems like a lot less hassle and about the same cost as going your route, H_C.  But hey, debating with you on value is like hammering a nail into a board with your forehead. If you're dedicated, you could eventually get to a consensus, but it takes a hellava lot of pain to get there and you have a massive headache at the end.

Howard_Casto

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2016, 07:45:42 pm »
NES console:  if you play nes games you need one, so the value of it is irrelevant. But hey... 30-50 sounds about right.
Viletim's RGB kit:  $110
Viletim's 8-pin din to rgb scart cable:  not needed.... output it to something standardized like vga and buy a standard cable.  cost would be around 2 bucks to use a vga connector.
Scart cable:  6 bucks.
Scart 2 hdmi:  30 bucks that is required for all the other various consoles you wish to up-scale to hdmi, and therefore shouldn't be factored in unless you intended to only have a nes.
HDMI cable:  free if you've somebody like me who has a collection due to their inclusion with video cards, tvs and monitors.  But hey, for the sake of argument I'll agree with 5 bucks.

So you are looking at roughly the same cost, only one is a nes and the other isn't. 

You don't have to justify your purchase man... if you like it then it's all good. 

opt2not

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2016, 09:37:23 pm »
I don't need to justify my purchases, this was a comparison.

If you want the hassle of modding an original system and relying on some cheap upscaler from china then by all means. Believe me, it's a bit of a hassle, I've done the mod and it ain't easy. This AVS console is pretty good for those who don't want to mess with all that. It's a straightforward plug n play system that looks great on modern displays and so far from what I can tell functions accurately.
I'll do more testing to find it's flaws, but so far it's been great.

Take it for what it is.

pbj

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #28 on: September 24, 2016, 12:21:59 am »
$20 Xbox + $30 Component -> HDMI converter serving me pretty well.

 :dunno


Howard_Casto

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #29 on: September 24, 2016, 11:20:26 am »
$20 Xbox + $30 Component -> HDMI converter serving me pretty well.

 :dunno
^This^

You aren't using a real nes anyway, so all bets are off. 

opt2not

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #30 on: September 24, 2016, 11:46:27 am »
Xbox is great for emulation, but that d-pad just doesn't cut it for me. Need an NES pad.

thomas_surles

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #31 on: September 24, 2016, 12:12:12 pm »
$20 Xbox + $30 Component -> HDMI converter serving me pretty well.

 :dunno
^This^

You aren't using a real nes anyway, so all bets are off.
Except for using original carts.

pbj

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #32 on: September 25, 2016, 09:44:21 am »
Xbox is great for emulation, but that d-pad just doesn't cut it for me. Need an NES pad.

Cut the end of the cord, solder the wires to a Kade.


Anyway, enjoy your new system.

 :cheers:

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #33 on: September 25, 2016, 10:48:49 am »
Xbox is great for emulation, but that d-pad just doesn't cut it for me. Need an NES pad.
Cut the end of the cord, solder the wires to a Kade.
If you're talking about using the new KADE miniConsole+ to connect a NES pad to an XBox, there's no need to cut the cord.

If you're talking about using the old KADE miniArcade, you'd have to connect a 9-conductor cable before (or in place of) the 4021N chip that converts the controls into a serial datastream.
http://seb.riot.org/nescontr/






Scott

pbj

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #34 on: September 25, 2016, 10:59:15 am »
Well, considering as the "kade miniconsole +" website hasn't been updated in seven months I'm clearly not talking about that device.


opt2not

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #35 on: September 27, 2016, 07:34:52 pm »
Been reading up on the newest firmware in development, and palette changing has been added, as well as FDS menu support:
http://www.retrousb.com/downloads/AVSchanges.txt

Quote
1.00
   initial release

1.10
   48KHz audio
   sprite bugs for huge insect
   & character
   non GG cheat codes in lines 2-5

1.20 (betas)
   palette selecting
   FDS menu buttons
   Gradius 2
   FF7
   Pokemon Yellow?

Downloads here: http://www.retrousb.com/downloads/

I'll update and report back when I get a chance on how the palettes look. I didn't install the palette switch on my RGB-modded Top Loader, mainly because I didn't like adding a switch to the shell, so this option is nice for me to have on the AVS.

ChadTower

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #36 on: October 03, 2016, 01:55:07 pm »



That's pretty cool and a good write up.  That price point, though.  Ugh.  I am not really into emulation but I'm also not looking to play in HD.  I guess my toploader is still good.  :D

pbj

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #37 on: October 03, 2016, 02:17:33 pm »
Filing this under "projects I'll probably ultimately regret", I did go ahead and buy the components to add composite output to my top loader.  Got enough stuff to do the mod five times over plus a bunch of wire and heat shrink tubing for $8.25 shipped from Tayda Electronics...


opt2not

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #38 on: October 03, 2016, 02:34:50 pm »
That's pretty cool and a good write up.  That price point, though.  Ugh.  I am not really into emulation but I'm also not looking to play in HD.  I guess my toploader is still good.  :D
Thanks man.  Nice to see some people interested in the information. I'll try to add more when I get a chance from work.


Filing this under "projects I'll probably ultimately regret", I did go ahead and buy the components to add composite output to my top loader.  Got enough stuff to do the mod five times over plus a bunch of wire and heat shrink tubing for $8.25 shipped from Tayda Electronics...
Composite... yikes.

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Re: RetroUSB AVS
« Reply #39 on: October 03, 2016, 03:17:52 pm »
Filing this under "projects I'll probably ultimately regret", I did go ahead and buy the components to add composite output to my top loader.  Got enough stuff to do the mod five times over plus a bunch of wire and heat shrink tubing for $8.25 shipped from Tayda Electronics...


I would do the same but it would sit on my bench right next to the 2600 s video kit I bought last year.

  
 

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