Philips CD-i
Type Console Developer Philips Electronics
Release Date 1991-Oct Region(s) North America, Europe
Initial Price $699 USD Games Released 124 (625 total applications)
     by Dark Watcher
In the mid 1980s Philips and Sony partnered up to create a new CD standard containing interactive combinations of sound, images and computer instructions.  This CD standard also required specific types of players.  In 1991 Philips created the Philips CD-i 210 as a multimedia system capable of playing Interactive CD-i software discs, Audio CDs, CD+G (CD+Graphics), VCDs (Video CDs) and Karaoke CDs.  You could essentially enjoy different types of media on the same machine.

People were not quite ready for the multimedia experience and clung to their VCRs, home computers and video game consoles.  With dwindling sales and the videogame market doing well, Philips decided to reintroduce the machine as videogame console.  The Phillips CD-i 450 was designed to look more like a console and included a pack-in game called Burn Cycle.
Philips CD-i console
The CD-i 450 still had a high price tag and the lack of quality games prevented the CD-i from becoming competitive in the videogame market.  The console died a slow death in the late 1990s with the release of far more popular CD based consoles.

FACT:  Nintendo had initially planed to release a CD based add-on for its SuperNes console.  Philips was one of the companies that they initially collaborated with to design it.  Plans for the device were scrapped, but Phillips walked away with contractual rights to produce games with Nintendo licensed characters.  Three Zelda games and a game entitled Hotel Mario were released for the Philips CD-i.  However the games were not produced by Nintendo and were considered lackluster (ok more like terrible).
     by Marriott_Guy
In the late 1980s, the Compact Disc had become the preferred format for delivering both audio recordings (CD-DA) and personal computer applications (CD-ROM).  Though the advancements in both quality and quantity that was afforded by this new media format were undeniable, the cost to take advantage of this new technology was steep and usually involved upgrading multiple devices.  There was also the small fact that the central point of most living rooms - the television - was not able to deliver any of this enhanced content.  Compact Disc Interactive (CD-i) was developed to be the solution.
The CD-i format was established during the mid 1980s in a joint venture between Philips and Sony (who also partnered to create the CD-DA and CD-ROM standards).  This framework enabled pictures, audio, video and interactive program content to be delivered simultaneously from a single compact disc, which then could be transmitted to your television via a dedicated unit - the CD-i player.
CD-i based systems were not intended to be pure gaming consoles - entertainment titles were meant to be just a part of the overall experience.  CD-i provided the canvas for a variety of applications, including edutainment software and full length movies.  At its launch in 1991, the system was not even displayed in stores with the other video gaming systems of the time (Sega Genesis, Nintendo SNES, etc.).  It was promoted within its own area, closer to the personal computer section.  This exemplifies one of the primary reasons for the downfall of the CD-i - indecisive marketing.
Philips had the unenviable task of educating the consumers while at the same time marketing a high-end product and its multiple benefits.  Philips invested heavily into advertising the CD-i through print as well as television via infomercials (a first for any system).  Regardless of the media vehicle, the message was the same - what exactly is this device? Is it a gaming machine?  A replacement for the personal computer?  An upgrade to the VCR?  There were entirely too many unanswered questions regarding the CD-i for any gamer to cough up a significant chunk of their life savings to obtain one of these at launch - $699 USD.  This high price tag was definitely a deterrent for both gamers and those looking to upgrade existing devices.  The initial design, and redesigns, of the CD-i reiterated this somewhat waffling approach.
The initial chassis of the CD-i (model CDI 205 Europe \ CDI 910 North America) was designed to be accommodated within a standard AV rack measuring 16.5" x 3.5" x 15.75" (42 x 9 x 40 cm).  The matte black casing was very sleek with the uncluttered facing utilitarian yet highly functional.  Crisp, large LED lighting communicated system status messages to the user.  Front access to basic ports was also a nice touch.  Overall, the design is rather minimalistic yet sophisticated and fits in seamlessly with other AV devices.  Later models would vary in color (primarily black, white and grey) with some sporting a more 'video game system' look (i.e. the CDI 450 model).

Regarding technical specifications, all CD-i systems needed to conform to a minimum base configuration: 68000 (or similar) CPU at 15.5 MHz, 1 MB of RAM, 8 KB NVRAM, dedicated audio/video processing chips and CD-RTOS (Compact Disc Real Time Operating System).  All CD-i models are able to play Audio CD (CD-DA), CD + Graphics (CD+G), Video CD (VCD) and Kodak Photo CD.  Consumer models varied with some including more bells and whistles than others, but the key difference was the inclusion, or lack thereof, of the Digital Video Cartridge.
The Digital Video Cartridge (DVC) enabled playback of CD-i movies as well is required by a great number of software titles.  The initial run of CD-i players provided a port to accept the optional DVC, while later models included this technology directly.  Philips released two different versions of the DVC - the 22ER9141 and the 22ER9956.  Both were identical in performance but differ in size to accommodate respective players (compatibility chart here).  The DVC also provided an additional 1 MB of RAM for system use which greatly improves overall performance across the board.  The DVC (or embedded technology) is basically required to maximize the CD-i experience, including game play.

The CD-i software library consists of approximately 625 total titles, 124 of which are games.  There are many exclusive offerings for this system and quite a few hidden gems, but overall the collection was rather weak in terms of game quantity and quality as compared to the contemporary systems that focused entirely on gaming.  Interacting with these titles was also a chore.
Early CD-i systems did not come with a standard gamepad, but were accompanied with a multifunctional IR remote (CD-i Thumbstick - pictured above).  The remote is pretty worthless when it comes to gaming.  Later systems were packaged with the wireless CD-i Commander, which featured pressure sensitive response in a rather generic 4 button casing.  Other optional peripherals include keyboards, gamepads, light gun, mice and roller controllers specifically designed for children.  Overall, interacting with the CD-i is rather cumbersome from a game play perspective.
The CD-i was a very advanced system for its time, one of the first to truly deliver a multimedia experience via a single device through your television.  It received support from many major manufacturers including Sony, LG (GoldStar), Memorex and Bang & Olufsen.  In total, over 40 different models of the CD-i system were produced - the most of any video game system that has ever been released.  The CD-i still enjoys a cult-like following, with many websites devoted to continued software development and other facets of this machine.  Where it faltered was in its chameleon-like approach to marketing.

Trying to be everything to everybody has never worked when it comes to electronics, especially while having the burden to educate the general public on new technology.  Even after switching gears and marketing the CD-i as a video gaming machine, the message was still cloudy at best for the consumer.  Philips has always been a leader in developing new technology.  The CD-i is a perfect example of this, but missed the mark when identifying and targeting its audience.

     Officially licensed releases
The CD-i had the most licensed releases of any video game console bar none.  In total, over 40 models exist that incorporate this technology.  The following lists the hardware releases and is organized into three groups: Consumer, Integrated and Portable, Professional and Authoring and Other Licensed Models.

Philips - Consumer Models
Philips CDI 205
Philips CDI 205
Philips CDI 210
Philips CDI 210
Philips CDI 220
Philips CDI 220
Philips CDI 450
Philips CDI 450
Philips CDI 470
Philips CDI 470
Philips CDI 490
Philips CDI 490
Philips CDI 740
Philips CDI 740
Philips CDI 910
Philips CDI 910

Philips - Integrated and Portable Models
Philips CDI 310
Philips CDI 310
Philips 21TCDI30
Philips 21TCDI30
Philips CDI 350
Philips CDI 350
Philips CDI 360
Philips CDI 360
Philips FW380i
Philips FW380i
Philips CDI 370
Philips CDI 370

Philips - Professional and Authoring Models
Philips CDI 180\181\182
Philips CDI 601
Philips CDI 601
Philips CDI 602
Philips CDI 602
Philips CDI 604
Philips CDI 604
Philips CDI 660
Philips CDI 660
Philips CDI 615
Philips CDI 615
Philips CDI 605
Philips CDI 605
Philips CDI 670
Philips CDI 670

Other - Models by other Licensed Manufactures
Bang & Olufsen Beocenter AV5
Bang & Olufsen Beocenter AV5
Grundig CDI 100V
Grundig CDI 100V
Grundig CDI 110E
Grundig CDI 110E
Memorex CDI 2200
Memorex CDI 2200
GoldStar 750 / 1000
GoldStar 750 / 1000
LG GDI 700
LG GDI 700
Vobis Highscreen
Vobis Highscreen
     Non-licensed hardware releases
Even though the CD-i had a TON of licensed manufacturers\distributors, there surprisingly does
not appear to be any unlicensed clones out there (but we would not bet our last dollar on this claim).
     by Marriott_Guy
Consoles are rated based upon the available technology at the time of its release.  A 10 point scale is utilized, with 10 being excellent.  The following summarizes my experience with the CD-i 910 model.

Console Design 06 The matte black casing is very sleek with the uncluttered facing utilitarian yet highly functional.  Crisp, large LED lighting communicated system status messages to the user.  Front access to basic ports was also a nice touch.  Overall, the design is rather minimalistic yet sophisticated and fits in seamlessly with other AV devices.
Console Durability 07 CD-i systems are well constructed with minimal issues.  Like all early CD based systems, read errors may occur after extended use.
Controllers 02 The CD-i Thumbstick that comes with this system is basically a modified TV remote with a built-in thumbstick.  The controller is extremely uncomfortable and not friendly to gamers.  The CD-i Commander is better, but it still is pretty horrible.
Graphics 07 Bright, colorful graphics are well rendered.  FMV sequences are very smooth.  Ensure to grab the optional DVC (Digital Video Cartridge) if your player does not have this technology already embedded within the hardware.
Audio 08 CD quality sound effects are the norm for most titles.  The CD-i really shines in this area.
Media 07 CD-i discs have very consistent, albeit average, load times.
Gamer Value 03 Though there are quite a few exclusive titles for this system, the overall library is quite poor.  The console does boast over 400 edutainment\utility type programs in addition to the 120+ game offerings.
Collector Value 05 The average gamer should probably take a pass on this system, but the CD-i is a must have for any console collector due to its hybrid status and innovative technology.  These systems are plentiful and easy to acquire.

     Interesting facts on software for this system
Software for the Philips CD-i was distributed in the optical disc format.  Most titles came in jewel-sized cases that were constructed of a thin plastic outer shell with a thick cardboard used for the front cover.  There were also games that came in the CD-i Big Boxes, which were nothing more but an extremely oversized carton.

When purchasing games for the CD-i, ensure to check if the game requires the optional Digital Video Cartridge (DVC).  This information is located on the back of the cover.  As a side note, all CD-i movies will require this DVC technology.

The Philips CD-i also features three unique titles for the Legend of Zelda series. They were able to obtain select character licenses from Nintendo as the result of their collaboration on the CD add-on for the Super Nintendo.  The CD add-on would eventually by scrapped, but Philips retained these rights when they released their own CD-i system.

applemctom's Games that Defined Compiliation

Philips CD-i Game Boxes

     Captured in-game images
7th Guest
(The) 7th Guest Screenshot
Alien Gate
Alien Gate Screenshot
The Apprentice Screenshot
Burn Cycle
Burn Cycle Screenshot
Chaos Control
Chaos Control Screenshot
Christmas Crisis
Christmas Crisis Screenshot
Dragon's Lair
Dragon's Lair Screenshot
Escape from Cyber City
Escape from Cyber City Screenshot
Flashback Screenshot
Hotel Mario
Hotel Mario Screenshot
International Tennis Open
International Tennis Open Screenshot
Invasion from Planet Skyron
Invasion from Planet Skyron Screenshot
Kether Screenshot
Link: Faces of Evil
Link: Faces of Evil Screenshot
Litil Divil
Litil Divil Screenshot
(The) Lost Ride
(The) Lost Ride Screenshot
Mario's Wacky World
Mario's Wacky World Screenshot
Micro Machines
Micro Machines Screenshot
Mutant Rampage
Mutant Rampage Screenshot
Mystic Midway: Rest in Pieces
Mystic Midway: Rest in Pieces Screenshot
Name That Tune
Name That Tune Screenshot
Palm Springs Open
Palm Springs Open Screenshot
(CD-i) Pinball
(CD-i) Pinball Screenshot
Tetris Screenshot
Voyeur Screenshot
Zelda: Wand of Gamelon
Zelda: Wand of Gamelon Screenshot
Zelda's Adventures
Zelda's Adventures Screenshot
Some images courtesy of Defunct Games
     First and third party system emulators
CD-i Emulator

The best version for emulating CD-i titles.
     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
Motorola 68070 (16/32-bit) 15.5 MHz MCD 212 (graphics chip); MCD 221 (audio chip) 1 MB \ Additional 1 MB with
Digital Video Cartridge
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
384x280 up to 768x560 16.7 million \ 32,768 on screen Unknown CD-Audio PCM, 44.1 KHz, 16-bit \ ADPCM Stereo, 37.8 KHz, 8-bit
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
Compact Disc (1x) 650 MB 124
(625 total applications)
Audio CD, CD+G, VCD,
Karaoke CD, Photo CD
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
512 KB (8 KB NV-RAM) None Four button D-Pad,
IR Multifunction Remote
Mouse, Trackball, Digital Video Cartridge, Keyboard, RF Modulator
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
Two (2) Optional via network kit DVC Cartridge Port, RS232 port(s) on some models Composite, S-Video
Power Supply - External Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
Varied - Dependant upon Model Varied CD-RTOS (Compact Disc Real Time Operating System)
provides the base for all models of the CD-i.
Philips CDI 205 Owners Manual (PDF) - 0.70 MB
Philips CDI 210 Owners Manual (PDF) - 0.83 MB
Philips CDI 220 Owners Manual (PDF) - 1.13 MB
Philips CDI 350 Owners Manual (PDF) - 0.91 MB
Philips CDI 450 Owners Manual (PDF) - 1.07 MB
Philips CDI 550 Owners Manual (PDF) - 1.07 MB
Philips CDI 605 Owners Manual (PDF) - 0.97 MB
Philips CDI 615 Owners Manual (PDF) - 1.18 MB
Philips CDI 740 Owners Manual (PDF) - 0.86 MB
  Philips 21TCDI30 Owners Manual (PDF) - 1.08 MB
BeoCenter AV5 Owners Manual (PDF) - 0.49 MB

     Peripherals, Promotions, Commercials, Brochures, Etc.
Philips CD-i Infomercial

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Philips CD-i Television Commercials

Brochure for the Philips CDI 910
Philips CDI 910 BrochurePhilips CDI 910 Brochure

Philips CD-1 180 System Brochure

General CD-i Technology Brochure
CD-i Advertisement (General) CD-i Advertisement (General) CD-i Advertisement (General)
CD-i Advertisement (General) CD-i Advertisement (General) CD-i Advertisement (General)
     Visitor insights and feedback
Please be respectful and abide by our Terms of Use & Policies prior to posting.  Basically be nice, keep it clean and don't spam or be a troll.  Thanks!

comments powered by Disqus