The first is obvious, the cables are way too short. They are only 2.5' long. An original NES controller is over 6' long. If you want to play with the CE while sitting on the couch, you will need either a long HDMI cable or controller cable extenders. A 25' HDMI cable will run you about $15 on Monoprice, but the controller extensions coming out for the CE run $10 each. If you want to play a two player game, that is another $10. Ultimately, the problem can be fixed, but the fixes will turn a $60 device into a $90 device.
The second is equally obvious, the console is not upgradeable. When you finish playing those 30 games, what then? It will be back to the Virtual Console. Want to play Mega Man 3, Castlevania 3, Startropics 2, Ninja Gaiden 2, Contra or Tecmo Super Bowl? You may have to wait for something like the CE 2.0 Edition. Given that Nintendo included virtually all its first party classics in the existing CE, the game lineup in the CE 2.0 would prove interesting to say the least.
The CE contains hardware very similar to older variants of the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B. Both use a quad-core 32-bit ARM Cortex-A7 CPU SoC. The CE uses the Allwinner R16 chip, which has a built-in Mali400MP2 GPU. The 2B uses a Broadcom BCM2835 running at 900MHz and a VideoCore IV GPU. Neither GPU core is going to be giving nVidia or AMD's or even Intel's GPUs a run for their money.
|NES Classic Edition PCB|
|Raspberry Pi 3|
Here is my last point, a Rasp Pi running a version of Nestopia will sound far more accurate to the real NES than the CE. The chief issue I have with the CE from an accuracy standpoint is its sound emulation. The emulation of the noise channel is really poor. The NES has five channels of sound, two rectangle wave channels, one triangle wave channel, one noise channel and one PCM channel. Many games use noise for sound effects and as percussion instruments (PCM takes up a lot of ROM space). When these effects are used repeatedly, the result is a total break in the emulation by anyone familiar with the correct sound.
Unfortunately, this is not an issue isolated to one or two games, the issue rears its ugly self in almost every game on the CE. Here are a few examples :
Some percussion notes in the music of SMB2, Metroid, Castlevania, Zelda 2 and Mega Man 2
Balloon popping sound in Balloon Fight
Enemy popping sound and fire power in Kirby's Adventure
Enemy defeat sound in StarTropics
Thunderclaps and machine gun fire in Super C
Dodging and gloves hitting gloves in Punch Out
Hitting the candles and enemies and breakable blocks with the whip and landing in a crouch in Castlevania, also the holy water fire.
The crushers in Metal Man's stage and Metal Man's metal blades in the boss battle
Enemy defeat sound in Ninja Gaiden, gun sound when Irene shoots Ryu, windmill slash
Block breaking in SMB3
Dialogue text in Zelda 2
Punch landing sound in Double Dragon 2.
This video from usgamer gives good examples, comment free, where you can hear most of these junk sounds : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LijjUluVQ_U
The issue appears to stem from sound noise sound effects being played at lower frequencies than they should be played. The RetroUSB AVS had the same issue, but it was fixed by the time units shipped to paying customers. The CE's firmware cannot be upgraded, so it can't be fixed. Even though Nintendo has used some open source software with the CE, I would not expect that hardware hackers would be able to fix the issue without access to the source code.
So, you have an issue that once heard, really cannot be unheard. There may also be some other subtler errors in the audio emulation. I do not know of any of the YouTube reviewers or major review sites like IGN and Gamespot who commented on this. I first expressed my reservations about the audio output accuracy in my Famicom Mini article last month. It appears I was fully justified once I started watching videos of reviewers playing retail units. Of course, many in the community do not hold the same value on accuracy, claim they can't hear it or just want to have it as a Nintendo collectible.
Nestopia for Windows has about the best NES audio emulation there is, you won't hear these kinds of errors from your RetroPie box. Plus you can play the whole NES library untouched by Nintendo's alterations. While some of those alterations, like removing high frequency flashing effects, are justified to avoid triggering epilepsy, others, like removing player names from Tecmo Bowl are more likely to disappoint.
Initial opinions of the CE's (and the Famicom Mini's) PCB indicate that hacking the board to allow the flash storage to be rewritten is quite possible : http://linux-sunxi.org/Nintendo_NES_Classic_Edition Wouldn't it be ironic if someone ported RetroPie to the CE that runs games better than the official firmware? Some easy soldering and a UART serial port adapter will be required to update the flash, but if it can be done, then the CE would become much more interesting as an emulation device. But for now, I would advise passing on it and exploring a much more richer experience with the Rasp Pi if you want to play NES games on your TV at a reasonable price.
1. Don't buy EMIO branded controllers for the NES Classic Edition, they do not work. This has been confirmed over and over again on Amazon. This is a shame because they made an NES Advantage inspired joystick for the CE that is reputed to have very good build quality. They will work with a Wiimote and a Wii or Wii U, but that is hardly the focus of the company's advertising.
2. Inside the CE there is a poster showing what you would have received with the original NES Deluxe Edition, namely a Zapper, R.O.B., Gyromite and Duck Hunt. I find this triply ironic. First, neither Duck Hunt nor Gyromite are included in the CE's game list. Second, the peripherals are not included either. Third, the Zapper and R.O.B. would not likely work with any TVs supporting an HDMI port, the CE's sole output option.