There are two main types of NVRAM+RTC solutions for Philips CD-i players to store user data and settings: 8 KB and 32 KB. They have a built-in battery that powers the non-volatile memory and the real-time clock. These two types are not compatible and thus cannot be replaced with each other (at least, not without hardware and/or ROM modifications). There are other types, also 8 KB and 32 KB, but they concern only very few and rare devices. I point them out when necessary.
In this article, you’ll find information about the different NVRAM types and their alternatives. You’ll also find tips for repair and upgrades. If this looks familiar to you then you have probably read parts of it in my Modifications for Philips CD-i Players article before. Since the NVRAM section grew so large, I’ve completely rewritten it and will continue to update it in its own article.
In this article, I’ll upgrade a Philips CDI450 with 32 KB NVRAM. You’ll find all information that is needed to modify the system ROM and the mainboard. If this sounds familiar – yes, it does: In 2019, I explored the possibility to upgrade a CDI470. Even though patching the system ROM failed back then, the experiment was still a success. The final solution to access 32 KB NVRAM was to use the ROM of a 490. As it turned out later, this was also Philips’ solution for the 470/85 model, but that is a topic for another article.
With the 450 (and all other top-loading players with Roboco mainboard) it is a bit different: It’s a low-cost model with 8 KB NVRAM only. The mainboard was neither prepared for a bigger NVRAM solution nor is there a similar advanced model that I could borrow the system ROM from. This time, a ROM patch must succeed.
This guide shows the replacement of the laser sledge in Philips CDM 12.1T CD mechanisms. It assumes that you have already cleaned the lens and done the necessary troubleshooting to rule out other errors (see this article for diagnosis with the Service Shell). If you only get dirty disc messages or experience stuttering audio/video from time to time, you can still follow the guide to clean and grease the mechanism.
For documentation, I replaced the laser sleds of two CDI450 players with unreliable or no disc recognition at all. I took different approaches to find the easiest replacement procedure, so don’t be surprised if you suddenly see pictures where things are in different places.
In 2014, I bought two top-loading CD-i players, the Philips CDI550 and CDI450. While the Magnavox CDI550 pops up every now and then in the U.S., the Philips CDI550 is quite rare in Europe and I’ve only seen a single one in all these years.
This is an attempt to collect all known and available modifications for Philips CD-i players in a single article. Consider it a work in progress – I will add new information from time to time. Please give feedback if you find an error or want to add something to this article.
Due to the plethora of different models, versions and revisions of CD-i players that have been sold under the Philips / Magnavox or entirely different brands (OEM), it is virtually impossible to create one big list that contains every player. I chose a different approach with several lists to cover most of the hardware combinations: Available modifications, mainboards, and video encoders.
Earth Command isn’t my favourite game. It makes some fun for a while, to tamper with the various settings and eventually watch the world burn, but it never got me hooked for a long time.
Then the reports of some people caught my attention. Some had trouble starting the game, as the screen just turned black after the intro, while others had no problems with the game at all. There was no common denominator to pin down the problem, as all the CD-i players they’ve used were of different revisions and generations.