A patent filed by Nintendo back in February may offer some hints about the Nintendo NX, or some other forthcoming hardware.
The patent was filed six months ago and published publicly two days ago. NeoGAF found the patent and pointed out a number of oddities about the hardware, which is defined as a, "stationary game apparatus, game apparatus, game system, recording medium and speed control method." The first few terms make it pretty clear it is not a handheld system, but the last few terms, which refer to the hardware as a recording medium and speed control method, are less clear.
Some of the aforementioned oddities include a controller with a display screen (like the Wii U, perhaps) and a the lack of an optical disc drive. There is, however, a card slot which leads to speculation that this game console will not use discs and could perhaps use downloadable content exclusively, or its games will be sold on a cartridge compatible with the card slot. The patent also shows an external hard drive and a communication unit (i.e. the Internet).
Nintendo announced work on a mysterious new console in March codenamed the NX. Little is known about the hardware other than we will learn more about it next year, and that it will be friendly with PCs and mobile devices. You can check out the full patent for the device on the US Patent and Trademark Office website by following the link.
We've reached out to Nintendo for more details about the patent and will update this story if we're able to add new details.
It's entirely possible that this could be a redesigned model of the Wii U with no disc drive. Every Wii U game released is available on the eShop meaning the lack of a disc drive wouldn't limit game selection options. It also has many of the same specifications, like the external hard drive and a controller with a screen. Maybe it's a Wii U with a DS game slot? Obviously, the more exciting speculation is this is early patented concept work for whatever NX is, but I am less confident that that's what we're looking at here.