Fat Agnes is a video chip in the Amiga. Ever since the Amiga 500 appeared, we've heard rumors of replacement chips that would give the computer even better graphics. Lately, the rurnors have surpassed the point of credibility. Some claim that the new graphics chip will do all of the following: directly support one megabyte of RAM, display an impressive array of 256 colors, and eliminate the annoying jitter in the interlace modes.
So what will the upcoming Fat Agnes replacement really have? The one-megabyte chip RAM rumor is most likely to come true. The current Fat Agnes (used in the 500 and 2000) and the regular Agnes (used in the 1000) can dircetly access only 512K of RAM. This means that all graphics images must be located in the first 512K of memory in order to be displayed or operated on by the blitter chip. One megabyte of "chip RAM" would allow for raster slide shows and animiations. of course. users with 512 K or less of RAM won't benefit from such a change, but expansion memory is becoming more popular. In fact, many of the latest graphics programs work best with (or even demand) at least one megabyte.
The 256-color rumor is less likely to bear fruit. It's true that the Amiga's system software can support the eight bitplanes necessary for 256 colors, but the time required to access the data might be prohibitive. Still, it may come eventually- if not in the current batch of Amigas, then the next.
As for the rumor that Fat Agnes will cure the interface jitter blues, that's probably just a misunderstanding. The jitter will be cured, but not by a new Fat Agnes. Commodore's likely remedy is a deinterlacing board that plugs into the video slot of the Amiga 2000. Amiga and 1000 owners needn't dispair, though, since Commodore is also said to be working on a new version of the Denise chip to solve the problem.
Where does the new Fat Agnes leave 1000 owners? Probably out in the cold-the Fat Agnes is not pin-compatible with the original Agnes chip. Graphics-crazy Amiga 500 and 2000 owners, though, will likely keep their ears to the ground until the chip shows up-probably in late summer.
Paint WarsNot long ago, Electronic Arts' Deluxe Paint II was the undisputed Amiga paint program. Today, a wave of new contenders has made paint choices less clear. The first challenger was Digi-Paint, Newtek's 4096-color paint program-the first easy-to-use Hold-And-Modify mode paint program. Next into the battle was Expresst Paint, the first at 64-color Extra-Half-Brite mode paint program.
While these two programs both had strong points, neither had the rich set of brush tools that made Deluxe Paint II so exciting and useful.
Now, three new paint progiarns are about to appear on the Market, each with a power ful set of tools. All three will operate in every Amiga graphics mode, including Hold-And-Modify (HAM) and Extra-Half-Brite (EHB). By using the new paint programs artists (and file rest of us) can produce results that look more realistic.
Photon Paint, from Microillusions, will be available soon. This is a very impressive program with nearly all of Deluxe Paint's tools, as well as several very impressive new ones (like mapping an image onto a sphere, cone, or arbitraiy shape.)
Electronic Arts isn't sitting still. Look for the new Deluxe Photo Lab, which also operates in all of the Amiga's video modes.. Although it is a full-featured paint program, Electronic Arts will probably pitch it as a tool for modifying and enhancing digitized or predrawn images to keep the product from competing with Deluxe Paint II.
Digi-Paint II is coming from NewTek, the undisputed king of Amiga graphics products. New-Tek says that they'll introduce eight video products this year. Digi-Paint II will mesh nicely with the rest. For instance, you'll be able to use the Digi-View interface to digitize pictures from within DigiPaint II.
To 2002 and BackFor almost two years, if you had an Amiga and you wanted a Commodore monitor, the choice was easy-you bought the Commodore Amiga 1080 monitor. But if you've checked the mail orders ads lately, you may have noticed that the 1080 is a dying breed. The replacement? The Commodore 2002 monitor.
Well, believe it or not, after only a few months the 2002 is also disappearing. The replacement for the 2002? The 1084, of course.
It all started when Commodore realized that they could save a lot of trouble (not to mention manufacturing costs) if they could sell the same monitor with their Amiga, 128, and PC compatible computers. This led to the repackaging of the 1080 as the new 2002.
There was one small hitch, though. The cables that connect a 2002 to a 128 or PC are different than the cables needed to connect the monitor to an Amiga. So Commodore sold two different packages with different cables. You may have guessed why the 2002 was doomed. Too many people came home with the wrong cables.
Commendably, Commodore acted quickly and introduced yet another monitorthe 1084. Unlike the 2002, this one includes all the cables you need, no matter what Commodore computer you buy. What will you do with the extra cable? Perhaps sell it to someone who got the wrong cable with their 2002.
New VirusA newsletter from the ICPUG user's group in Europe notes a new Amiga virus that actually erases any disks that are in stalled in your system when an apocalyptic message appears. Previous viruses were comparatively inert.
There are several ways to protect yourself from Amiga viruses. Perhaps the best is to use the CLI Install command on a backup copy of any new disks you get. Then store the original in a safe place. This solution works only if the disk is a normal DOS disk. For commercial software and other software with custom boot tracks, the solution is even easier-turn the computer off when you take out the disk.
GFA BASICMichtron is said to be working on the Amiga version of their respected GFA BASIC interpreter and compiler. GFA BASIC has become perhaps the most popular of all programming environments on the ST. Supposedly, the Amiga version would be in some measure compatible with the ST version, facilitating the transfer of software.
Because the BASIC shipped with the ST was so poorly designed and bug infested, Michtron had little need to promote their BASIC. But the Amiga market may be more difficult to crack.
GFA BASIC won't be the first third-party Amiga Basic. True BASIC (the price of which has recently been reduced), SAM BASIC (from the creator of Simon's BASIC for the 64), and the Absoft's Amiga Basic Compiler (reviewed in this issue's Fast Looks) round out the competition.
Demo Reel 1There may be a lot of talk about the new word processors, spreadsheets, and destop publishing programs for the Amiga, but it's still the demos that sell the machine. Realizing this, NewTek, the makers of Digi-Paint, Digi-View, and the upcoming Digi-F/X, has come up with a brilliant marketing ploy to sell their products (and probably some Amigas, as well)-Demo Reel 1.
Demo Reel 1 is two disks. Insert one into DFO: and the other into DF1:, turn on your one-megabyte Amiga, and get ready to be stunned. NewTek has gone out of their way to show off the Amiga's great sound and graphics. On Amiga 500s and 2000s, it even turns off the high-pass audio filter for better sound (your power light will dim).
Demo Reel 1 features animated HAM (Hold-And-Modify) graphics, digitized speech and pictures, and a superb musical track. Dealers will probably let this thing run all day. If you want to take a copy home, no problem, NewTek's packaging makes it clear to your dealer that customers are free to copy the demo.
Demo Reel 1 is available from dealers only.
Seeing StarsDo you know where your local planetarium is? If so, you'll probably love Galileo 2.0, a program from Infinity that puts the sky on your Amiga. When you load Galileo 2.0, it reads your Amiga's clock and puts the sky right up on your screen. You can then zoom in on any area, identify stars, see the traditional constellations, and label the planets. (The original version of Galileo was reviewed in the January 1988 issue of COMPUTE) Version 2.0 features more stars, faster scrolling and refresh, better accuracy, and much more. You can even save the screen to disk for use in paint programs. Infinity also sent us Yale Bright Star Data Disk-a disk that works in conjunction with Galileo 2.0. It contains even more stars and celestial objects. This disk should more than please the serious amateur astronomer.
Galileo 2.0 and Yale Bright Star Data Disk are available from Infinity Software, 1144 65th Street Suite C, Emeryville, California 94608; (415) 420-1551.
Products, PricesIf you want to know all about the latest games, the newest joysticks, lightpens, and drawing tablets, and the best video and audio products, check out the Amiga Buyer's Guide from COMPUTE! Publications. Scheduled to appear on the stands March 25, this volume will be a standard reference guide in your Amiga library.
- Rhett Anderson