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Betazone issue 4 for Atari8 and ST
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BetaZine- The On-Line Magazine
for Atari 8-bit, ST, and STe users
Issue Number 4: February 1st, 1990
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(First issue for 2/90)
Editor, Mike Mezaros.
NOW ON GEnie!
"BetaZine", "BetaZine - The On-Line Magazine", and the contents of this issue are (C)opyright 1990 b Mezaros. All Rights Reserved.
Articles may be reprinted in full or quoted for use in a review of a product or of this magazine UNLat particular article carries a byline (author's name). If so, you must contact BetaZine.
BETAZINE IS AN INDEPENDANT, FREE PERIODICAL, NOT AFFILIATED IN ANY WAY WITH ATARI CORP. ATARI IS A TRADEMARK OF ATARI CORP. AND ATARI GAMES, INC. ALL REFERENCES TO ATARI PRODUCTS ARE TRADEMARKE.
BetaZine - The On-Line Magazine is published bi-monthly by The PsychoTronic Authority.
HOW TO CONTACT BETAZINE (CONCERNING LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS, ETC.) :
FoReM-Net, The FoReM ST/PC Network:
SEND E-MAIL OR FILE MAIL TO NODE 471
Address it to: BETAZINE EDITOR
Fido-Net, International BBS network:
SEND NET-MAIL TO NODE 107/360
Address it to: BETAZINE EDITOR
"No Reasonable Submissions Denied."
BetaZine is Proud to Support...
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Notes from the Scratch Pad
The Editor's Soapbox
Extra-Super VGA Graphics Challenge TT
(by Tim Reed)
Best Buys in Computer Hardware
(by Kurt Arnold)
The Latest Atari News & Information
STe - FCC Approval?
PC-Ditto 2 Finally Ships
*Oasis* BBS Has New Owner
STacey Laptop to Receive Full Approval
Atari PC-4, Commodore PC-40?
(by Dave Mothersbaugh)
ST Game System Lives, Power Pack Dies
Lynx on Backorder
DVT Tape Back-up Problems
(by Brian Woods)
The TT: BetaZine Exclusive Report
Amiga 68030 Upgrade versus TT
Xf551 Drive Fix Information
(by Dave Mothersbaugh)
Wordflair Ensures STe/TT Compatibility
(by Jerry Morton)
ICD Host Adapter Software Upgrade
(by Jerry Morton)
NOTES FROM THE SCRATCH PAD
Despite what we reported last issue, BetaZine, for the time being, is still being distributed i ASCII and ATASCII format. As of next issue (number 5), however, only the ASCII versions will edsrbted.
This issue contains only one file. The SUBMIT.TXT file has been incorporated into the main iss
THE EDITOR'S SOAPBOX
I'm a little strapped for time as I write this so I'll cover the important bases first, move onmething a little lighter, and then I'll be out of your way.
First off, and most important: BetaZine is spreading, not unlike the flu bug that's been going (I just recovered myself). A number of people from across the country have sent me disks (8 a fti riting) requesting the first few issues of BetaZine, promising to spread them around in thirara ndditribute them at user group meetings. So I want to thank those people right now for teirtim an efort: Ellen Cleary, John Santiova, Ed Waters, Paul Sentner, Emily Duff, Tim Reed, Dae Radolp, an Dav Motersbaugh. Thanks, guys! (Oh, and gals!)
Next up, 'File Request.' BetaZine will soon be available on FidoNet for file requesting. Lookore information on this next issue... With file requesting, BetaZine will be easily obtained (uoaialy, if necessary) by FidoNet SysOp's throughout the country... You'll be able to ask yourloalFio ysp to request it, and it will soon appear (magically?) on his or her system. I'd liketo han FaianGoron for his help with this, he's the long-time SysOp of E.B.B.B.S. at (201)-247-852. I'd lso ike o thnk Kubla Khan (hope I got that spelling right) of the FidoNet Atari echo fo suggstingthe iea.
Thirdly, as of this issue, BetaZine will be available on GEnie in ARCed, ASCII format. More inion on this next issue. Thanks to Dave Drust for this one, SysOp of The Hacker's Hotline ST at(0)309782. Fourthly, the latest issue of BetaZine will now be available for on-line browsngonStn owll's [Blank Page] BBS at (201)-805-3967. Thanks, Stan!
Now, on a lighter note... Have you ever noticed that car companies often use the Atari computeixes to indicate the "best" model of a particular car? Cases in point: Honda uses XL (and LX),Nsa ss XE, and Toyota uses ST. Sorta tells you something... (yeah, SORTA). Too bad the TT was'tnaedth G. Then we'd REALLY have something to be proud of. <grin>
That's it for now, everybody, and PLEASE, keep those submissions coming!
Until Next Time,
Editor, BetaZine Magazine
EXTRA-SUPER VGA GRAPHICS CHALLENGE TT
by Tim Reed
Here is a short review of the graphics modes that will be available with the new TT, Atari's fi030 computer:
Name Resolution Palette Colors
ST Low 320x200 4096 16
ST Med 640x200 4096 4
ST High 640x400 512 2
TT Low 320x480 4096 256
TT Med 640x480 4096 16
TT High 1280x960 4096 2
(References to "colors" in this chart and this article refer to colors allowed on the screen at the ime.)
Nice new graphics modes, right? Well, think again... they're nice -- compared to the ST.
But pixel for pixel, these new graphics modes are MATCHED or EXCEEDED by graphics boards alreadxistence for the IBM's. The new Mac's also beat them. And, most likely, the Amiga 3000 is goigt u hem to shame, too.
For instance, look at the TT Medium Rez, 640x480 in 16 colors. Standard 8-bit IBM VGA can handx600 in 256 colors. TT Low Rez has 256 colors, but only 320x480. Now, the TT High Rez is nice 18x6... that's more than anything IBM has to offer. But it's basically just a monochrome mode--2 olrs BM 16-bit (or "Super") VGA has 1024x768 in 16 colors.
But, for some reason, the "pixel for pixel" method isn't always a very accurate way to compare cs... Anyone who's ever seen IBM EGA graphics, and sometimes even 8-bit VGA graphics, knows thtteS' graphics are comparable. Sometimes, the graphics on the ST's are MUCH better. This is uualydu t te varying quality of paint, digitizing, and viewing programs.
Still, IBM is expected to release a new video board sometime this year. It will be a 16-bit VG board, allowing 1024x768 with 256 colors. Obviously, the clone versions won't be far behind.. h e oard is rumored to be called EVGA or KGA... EVGA stands for Enhanced Video Graphics Array Im otqutesure what KGA stands for... I'll just call it extra-super-VGA for now.
If existing graphics on competing machines are far superior to what Atari is still promising, w Atari trying to do? Why are they releasing an essentially outdated machine (as far as graphic r ocrned, anyway)? Maybe they're hoping that the price of the TT will sway new users. Or, mabe teyreconting on the strong European allegiance to Atari products to carry the new line... esentall levin Amricans out in the dark again.
Then again, the TT hasn't been released yet. Maybe, by the time it is released, Atari will add graphics mode or two... the powerful 68030 design is certainly capable of handling graphics sueirt xtra-super-VGA. But this isn't very likely.
Hopefully, the TT's graphics abilities will be expandable, like the IBM's. That way, once we so get envious of extra-super-VGA, we'll be able to buy an add on board and make extra-super-VGAlo iethe graphics on a 2600. Am I dreaming, or what?
Maybe not. The TT will contain EuroCard expansion slots (one on the TT030/2, six on the TT/x).e are powerful slots, capable of just about anything... We just might see extra-super-VGA grapiso h TT afterall!
As any of us who own Atari products knows, we're just going to have to hang in there for a whilsee what happens.
BEST BUYS IN COMPUTER HARDWARE
by Kurt Arnold
(EDITOR'S NOTE: BetaZine claims no responsibility for the accuracy of the information contained in tticle. This is not an advertisement, it is provided as a public service to our readers. -Ed.)
Before I begin: All prices quoted in this article are in U.S. funds.
Do you use an ST? Are your kids/siblings always bothering you to play with your latest games? why not give them an excellent computer of their own?
Do you need a spare Atari 8-bit? One that won't easily interface with a hard disk, but was buia time when Atari was a household name? ("I use an Atari." "Ata-what? Oh, yeah!! They still aecrrdges for that thing? I had one. Wasn't Donkey Kong lousy?")
Well, San Jose Computer is offering a 1200XL package for only $99. The package includes a 1200SIC cartridge, 1020 color plotter, 1025 dot matrix printer, a "tutor" manual, and a Pac-Man carrde (JC is temporarily substuting the 1200XL with a 48k Atari 800.)
SJC's number is (408)-224-8575.
Are you stuck at 300 baud (like our wonderful editor, God forbid) with an Mpp1000c (what a beaut was, hahaha), 1030, XM301, or Supra and can't afford a P:R: or 850 interface? Or are you MODMESadcan't afford a P:R: or 850 -and- a modem on top of that?
Well, don't hesitate!! Microtyme is selling the SX212 direct-connect 1200 baud modem for $75 wftware. The number is 1-800-255-5835.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Mine's a 1000e not a 1000c, Kurt... Don't make fun of it. I'm very sensitive about rin> -Ed.)
Now, obviously, a 1200 baud modem isn't as good as a 2400 or 9600 baud modem. If you're in thet for one of those, Computer Direct has some nice deals going. These modems are ALL external/R22(hyrequire an 850 interface, P:R: connection, or equivalent on the Atari 8-bits), Hayes compaibe,an mdein the U.S.A. The 2400 baud modem they are offering is priced at $96. And the 9600 audmodm (CITV.3/.22/.22bis compatible) they are offering is priced to MOVE at $599 and comes coplet wit a fve yar wrranty.
These offers from Computer Direct expire at the same time February does... You can order them ling 1-800-BUY-WISE (708-382-7545 FAX).
By the way, I've dealt with Computer Direct in the past, and they have excellent customer servi technical support. Stuck with a 16k 600xl for some reason? There ishp!Te64k upgrade kit is available from American Technavision for only $29.99. American TV's nube i 180-51-9995.
Stuck with a 512k 520ST or a 128k 130XE? Text files explaining how to do these memory upgradeself are available on most bulletin boards. In fact, a 130XE can be upgraded to 320k for about 6..adthe upgrading is easy. A 520ST can be upgraded easily, too -- on some 520's, it's as simpe s nsalin additional chips.
If you're not very technically, inclined, however, installing DRAMs is not a very good way to l DRAM's get zapped very easily. A 320k upgrade for your 130XE, installed, is only $119.95 fromCSS Te number is (716)-586-5545.
If you're looking to upgrade your 520ST to 2 megs, Computrol Industries will do it for $290, ind. If you happen to own an STFM, they'll give you 2.5 megs for that same price. For more infomto il 1-800-477-2131.
In the market for an RGB monitor? Central Technology of California is selling Samsung 14" CK46itors for only $199. The number there is (213)-828-0047.
Looking for SCSI hard drives? Express Micro Mart of Michigan is selling 85 megabyte Seagate STCSI drives for only $494.
What? Looking for a cheap, nice quality printer? Look no more! The Citizen 120D, 9-pin 120 cnter is PERFECT for printing out small documents and school work. And the price is right. Natoa opter Supplies is selling the 120D for only $135. If you need a low-cost printer that isn'ta eie f un, the 120D fits the bill. You can call NCS at 1-800-733-5731.
Short on disks, and sick of the junky disks you usually get through the mail or at computer shoell, Midwest Micro-Peripherals sells high quality, double-density/double-sided 5.25" disks for 45 e 0, $29 per 100, $81 per 300, and $240 per 1000 (including sleeves and labels). They also el hghquliy, double-density/double-sided 3.5" disks for $7.90 per 100, $65 per 100, $199 per 30, ad $90 er 000(including sleeves and labels).
I've found the 3.5" disks to be as good or as better as the major brands (I haven't tried the 5isks yet) at an excellent price. You can call MMP at 1-800-523-8215.
Well, that's it for this issue. If you liked or disliked this column (yeah, that pretty much call of you), please send a letter to the editor. I'm interested in your comments.... Thanks, adhpysopping!
STE - FCC APPROVAL?
Although Atari's new low-end 16-bit computer, the STe, was approved by the CDC (the Canadian eqnt of the FCC) for home use at the beginning of 1989's fourth quarter, it is yet to be approvedb h C. Word is, the STe needs only a slight adjustment before Class B status can be granted; iprve R sieding. Thus, the STe sold in the United States will not be the same STe that is curretlybeig sld n Cnada.
Atari has not announced whether problems with TOS 1.6 will be corrected in the U.S. version.
The FCC is expected to approve the new STe by mid-February.
PC-DITTO 2 FINALLY SHIPS
Avant-Garde's highly touted Pc-Ditto 2 IBM XT emulator for the Atari ST is finally being shippe Computability Consumer Electronics, a Wisconsin based mail-order outfit which has been advertis CDtto 2 for $249.00 (including delivery), has stated, however, that they have not recieved anysimetsasof this writing.
Apparently, only those consumers who directly ordered PC-Ditto 2 from Avant-Garde when it was fnnounced are recieving the product at this time.
Problems have been reported with the product, ranging from missing software and documentation ticulties using it with the 520ST. None of these reports have have been confirmed at this time.
*OASIS* BBS HAS NEW OWNER
Glenda Stocks, owner of the *Oasis* BBS program for the Atari 8-bit computers, has sold her rig the famous BBS software. Originally, *Oasis* was going to be sold to MAX Systems, but apparenl,tedal fell through.
The new owner, Jeff Williams of Ontario, can be reached on his BBS at (416)-465-4182. He was uable for comment as press time, however.
He can also be reached at the following address:
97 Bertmount Avenue
Ontario, Toronto CANADA M4M 2X8
The current price for *Oasis* software (version 4.7) is $25.00.
*Oasis* Test Drive, a partially disabled evaluation version of *Oasis*, is available for downlomany Atari BBS's across the country.
STACEY LAPTOP TO RECIEVE FULL APPROVAL
It was expected that Atari Corp. would begin shipping the new STacey laptop computer to music sty stores in the United States when it recieved FCC Class A status recently.
Atari, however, is apparently waiting for Class B approval. Again, the problem centers around elding. The FCC is expected to give Atari's new laptop ST a Class B rating by mid-February.
ATARI PC-4, COMMODORE PC-40?
by Dave Mothersbaugh
Commodore's new Colt, an IBM-XT compatible computer, has been selling fairly well through the Bpartment store chain. But Commodore has now released an IBM-AT compatible computer, the PC-40. tr's PC-4, which is now available in Canada, is almost exactly the same machine as the PC-40 secfiatonfor specification, including the name.
Atari PC-4 Commodore PC-40
286, 12Mhz ++ 286, 12Mhz
1.2Meg Floppy ++ 1.2Meg Floppy
40Meg Hard Disk ++ 40Meg Hard Disk
1MB Ram ++ 1MB Ram
101-key keyboard ++ 101-key keyboard
Paradise 8bit VGA ++ CBM 8bit VGA
Atari MultiSync ++ CBM VGA Monitor
Approx. $1600 U.S. Approx. $1500 U.S.
There are only two major differences between the PC-4 and the PC-40. The Atari model comes witradise VGA card (one of the best names in the VGA card business) and a Multi-Sync monitor.
The Atari PC-4 can be ordered by mail through one of the many Atari dealers in Canada. The CBM will be available at Best department stores and is currently offered by Mibro Co. of New York iy(-80]-451-9780).
ST GAME SYSTEM LIVES, POWER PACK DIES
The Atari ST Game System, a 520STFM bundled with game software and joysticks, is currently bein by the members-only discount chain The Price Club. The system sells for $399.99, and sales ar on el.
The Atari ST Power Pack, a 520STFM bundled with word processing, spreadsheet, and other fundameoftware, has been abandoned. Atari does not wish to restart 520STFM production, and the curren tc snot enough to justify a new product package and advertising campaign.
LYNX ON BACKORDER
Lynx, Atari's color hand-held video game system (dubbed "The video game system you can get away) is on backorder through the Sears Catalog, claims Sears.
The Sears catalogs (the Christmas 1989 Wish Book and the 1990 Sears Catalog) are the only way fple outside of the NY/NJ area to obtain the game machine.
Although the Lynx sold for as high as $225 in New York City during the Christmas buying spree (ails for $169.99), retail sales in New Jersey have been generally less than expected.
Lynx units are still generally available at most K.B. Toy and Hobby stores throughout the gardee.
Despite this, Atari stated at the Winter CES show that one million Lynx's would be built (and pbly sold) in 1990.
Recent happenings at Epyx (layoffs and a rumored closing) may help determine the Lynx's future., who designed the Lynx, owns the exclusive software development license for the unit.
DVT TAPE BACK-UP PROBLEMS
by Brian Woods
Users of the new DVT video-tape hard drive back-up system for the ST are reporting problems.
Advertisements for the product, which is manufactured by Seymor/Radix of Irving, Texas, boast tlity to store 360 megabytes on a single VHS video tape.
Users of the product are reporting results closer to 70 Megabytes per tape. The DVT system haseen reliable when used with a video tape set at SLP/EP (6 hour) mode, nor when used with lower-ult ieo tapes. If there is a crash, and your only back-up is a DVT tape made in slow mode or ona owquliy ape, your data may be lost permanently.
If you use a DVT, those who've had some experience with the device reccomend using only high-grS tapes recording in SLOW/SP (2 hour) mode.
Similar back-up systems for the IBM's have been around for a few years now, and they tend to beexpensive and much more reliable. Unfortunately, they cannot be used with the ST.
THE TT: BETAZINE EXCLUSIVE REPORTS
Although Atari's new 32-bit computer, the TT, will come standard with a 16-Mhz 68030 microprocethe new computer WILL be fully compatible with faster 68030's and 68040's, a source close to Atr el etaZine. (We would not print this information if we did not consider the source reliable.) heTT nw in the final testing stages of development, has already been criticized for being to sow. Aple' neest 68030 Macintosh runs at 25Mhz, and the Amiga 3000 is likely to do so too.
However, because of improvements to the operating system and the basic design of the 68030, thetually runs at closer to 19Mhz. The 68030 chip itself actually contains two small caches.
Our source tells us, however, that not only will the TT be compatible with a 16Mhz 68040 (as ha widely announced), it will be possible to replace the 68030 inside the machine with a faster mdlwtot sacrificing compatibility. No upgrade board will be necessary.
"The TT's architecture will not be limited to 16Mhz like the ST's is limited to 8Mhz. I'm not hat the limit will be, but it probably won't be any higher than 25Mhz. Still, 25Mhz is comparal otespeed of many 386 systems available now," he told us.
"Atari isn't going to spend any more money on it than they have to. That's why the ST is limit8Mhz... Why should Atari make provisions for a faster CPU when they don't sell one?"
In order to raise the speed of an ST, an accelerator board is necessary. Such a board will notcessary with the TT because the system is designed to run with a faster processor than it is eqipdwt.
The STe, however, will be limited to 16Mhz, which is still an improvement over the ST's 8Mhz ce Since the STe will be marketed mainly as an alternative to the Amiga, it is not clear whetherteSewll require additional equipment to run a 68030 at this time. An Amiga 68030 upgrade from omodreisabut to hit the market.
The prototype TT's shown at the Dusseldorf show in August '89 had "mushy", or non-click, keyboake the ST's and STe's. In fact, they were adapted MegaST keyboards. Pictures released of the Tb tr, however, show a different keyboard. This keyboard maintains the standard Mega layout, wthony fw odifications (such as new colors, a larger size, and small function keys). It has ben rpored,howver that the final version of the TT will use an IBM 101-key keyboard compatible keboar. Tat'sgoodnewsfor typists: IBM style 101-key keyboards with the "click" feel often sell fr les than$50.
AMIGA 68030 UPGRADE VERSUS TT
Although this has not been confirmed with Commodore (Commodore will answer few questions, much tari), we have recieved word from a local Amiga dealer that the Commodore Amiga 68030 upgrade wl ealfor over $2,500 American.
Although Atari hasn't released official prices, word is that the base model TT (often called th0/2, or the TT/d, after the model distributed to many developers) will retail for no more than 200(hs model will include a 16Mhz 68030, 2 megabytes of RAM, stereo sound, 68881/2 co-processorsoke, .4 mgabyte floppy drive, 30 megabyte hard disk, VME, SCSI, and DMA expansion ports).
If these prices and specifications prove to be true (and only time will tell), the Amiga 68030 e will not be much of a value.
XF551 DRIVE FIX INFORMATION
Back in December, Computer Software Services of Rochester, NY introduced a new product for Atart owners: The Xf551 Drive Enhancer.
When we first reported this, we were unsure exactly how this drive fix worked: C.S.S. claimed t would make the Xf551 compatible with standard Atari drives such as the 1050, the 810, the Inds t. This seemed like an almost impossible trick, since the Xf551 writes to the flip side of your dickards... Making the drive compatible with other drives would require major modifications to teui tsef. All this, C.S.S. claimed, and truly easy installation, could be had for $29.95.
Well, it turns out, the product doesn't TRULY make Xf551 disks compatible with the other drivest it does, however, is amiable: It will work as either an Atari 1050 or an Atari Xf551 drive. n15 oe, it will NOT be able to read the flip-sides of disks, unless you turn them over...
This is all accomplished by a small module, six wires, and a switch. The six wires are soldere your Xf551 at various points on the drive mechanism and on the controller board. The switch cnb e o "1050" or "Xf551" mode.
For owners of the Xf551, this enhancement can make trading disks with others a lot easier.
C.S.S.'s number is (716)-586-5545.
Although home brewed adaptors to allow multifrequency (multi-sync) monitors on the ST have beend for some time, the first commercial product of this type, Omniswitch, is NOW shipping.
Omniswitch also lets you connect both color and monochrome monitors and switch between the two t cable swapping. It unit also allows connection of an additional floppy drive to your ST.
The Omniswitch, from Talon Technologies (the people who brought us the SuperCharger XT emulatorls for $89.95. It can be ordered directly from Talon at 1-800-243-0443.
Talon reccomends using the Samsung CN4551 multi-sync monitor, which they sell for $499.95. Thitor can be found for under $400, however, if you look hard enough.
WORDFLAIR ENSURES STE/TT COMPATIBILITY
by Jerry Morton
Blue Chip International, Inc., of San Francisco, CA. has released Wordflair for the ST, a word sor they describe as an "integrated document processor."
Blue Chip was allowed access to an STe and a TT/d (a developers model of the TT), and made specdifications to Wordflair to ensure compatibility will all ST-family computers, including the TT u xlding the 520ST (Wordflair requires too much memory).
Wordflair is available for $99.95 from Blue Chip International, Inc. Their phone number is (41-9605.
ICD HOST ADAPTOR SOFTWARE UPGRADE
by Jerry Morton
ICD has announced an update of their Fa-ST Hard drive booting software. This latest release ison 4.0, and allows for increased speed due to advanced disk caching.
The new software is free to all registered owners of the ICD Host Adaptor for the Atari ST. Ite downloaded from the ICD bbs at (815)-968-2229, or from CompuServe (ATARIVEN DL1).
That looks like all of it this time, folks... Look for another issue of BetaZine some time in early February. We have a few special things planned for that issue, which will be number 5...
Until then, PLEASE continue to submit articles. Without your articles, letters, and suggestions, BZ last very long.
And last, but not least, PLEASE continue to distribute BetaZine to bulletin board systems in your arBetaZine would like to thank the following people who have helped to make BetaZine a success:
Dave "BetaZone" Drust, Stan "I Love the Black Box" Lowell, Jack "California" Lee, Jerry "GoGo" Morton "Super-VGA" Lodzinski, Kurt "Dead Man" Arnold, Fabian "Not really even in East Brunswick anymr"Gro, and everyone else who has helped out who I couldn't think of stupid nick-name for. :-)
end of BetaZine Issue#4
February 1st, 1990
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