A-Max II Review
Last year ReadySoft released A-Max, a Macintosh emulator for the Amiga. After plugging a set of used Macintosh ROM chips into the A-Max cartridge, you plugged the cartridge into your disk drive port, loaded the A-Max software, and could run almost all non-copy-protected Macintosh software on your Amiga. Unfortunately, the emulator lacked the ability to use Amiga hard drives and to play Mac sounds. A Macintosh with no hard drive is no more fun to use than an Amiga with no hard drive, so ReadySoft addressed these shortcomings with the A-Max II.
The A-Max II now allows you to create Macintosh-format partitions on Amiga hard drives, as well as allowing access to Macintosh-specific SCSI devices attached to an Amiga SCSI controller. Your Amiga hard disk controller must, however, be supported with an A-Max II-compatible device driver. Drivers are shipped with the A-Max II for Commodore's 2090, 2090A, 2091, and A590; GVP controllers; the IVS Trumpcard; the Xetec FastCard; and the Preferred Technologies multifunction board. Drivers for Supra hard drives and the ICD AdSCSI board are now available from the respective controller manufacturers. If your controller isn't on this list, you should contact the manufacturer to determine if it is developing an A-Max II driver.
The second major addition is support for Mac-digitized sounds. The Macintosh operating system includes several system sounds that can now be played through the Amiga's sound system. Some older Macintosh software accesses the Mac's hardware to create sounds and won't provide sound using the A-Max II. Most newer Mac programs use digitized sound files and work well under the A-Max II.
The A-Max II makes transferring files between Amiga format and A-Max- or Mac-formatted disks much easier. With the A-Max II's file-transfer utility, you can transfer files from a standard AmigaDOS disk in DF0: to a Macintosh disk or from any Mac file to the Amiga disk. The file-transfer utility will translate text files, convert pictures between MacPaint and Amiga IFF format, transfer binary files between the systems, and convert PostScript files to Amiga format.
Like its predecessor, the A-Max II uses the standard Amiga drives to create 800K A-Max-format disks that can be used while emulating the Macintosh. Also included are utilities to transfer files from a real Macintosh using a 272K disk that can be created on the Mac and read by the Amiga. The Full Disk Transfer utility is supposed to transfer a complete Macintosh disk by creating several transfer disks that are reassembled under the A-Max. However, I was never able to successfully reassemble a disk on the A-Max side. I recommend that you invest in a Macintosh drive.
As if these improvements weren't enough, the A-Max II also has added support for Amigas with Memory Management Units (MMUs), allowing increased compatibility during emulation. Finally, the A-Max II looks at your system preferences to determine how to center the Macintosh screen on your monitor. The emulator supports the new screen modes available with the Enhanced Chip Set and 2024 high-resolution monitor.
If you have an Amiga and need to use Macintosh software, the A-Max II is a wise investment. I've found that all the Mac software I need to use (Aldus PageMaker 4.0, Microsoft Excel and Word, and Silicon Beach's SuperPaint) runs perfectly. With the added use of my Amiga hard disk and the sounds emanating from my monitor, the only clue that I'm not using a real Mac is the larger Amiga screen—and the money I saved by not buying a second computer.
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Amiga with 1MB—$149.95 (Upgrade from A-Max—$49.95)