Amiga view. (Commodore's new A4000/040)
by Denny Atkin
Commodore rejuvinates the Amiga line with the A4000/040; hopefully 020 and 030 models will follow.
Elsewhere in this issue you'll find a preview of Commodore's new Amiga 4000, the first Amiga to use the AA (pronounced "double A,") chip set. The Amiga sorely needed a graphics boost to stay competitive with sluggish but powerful 24-bit, $150 PC Super VGA cards, and the A4000 provides that.
When you get the chance to try a AA-based Amiga, I think you'll see that the Amiga once again has an edge over MS-DOS machines. Commodore's engineers have performed an amazing feat--they've created a new, enhanced graphics chip set that gives you a 24-bit color palette and speeds up operations in higher resolutions, yet they've made a special effort to keep it compatible with the earlier chip sets. It's disappointing to see the machine released without built-in SCSI or enhanced DSP-based sound; hopefully, Commodore will address those issues quickly.
This enhanced machine will make a wicked-fast professional Amiga workstation. It should be especially popular with the video crowd; I hope the Toaster works with it or will be updated to do so soon. With one of the fastest processors around, superb graphics, and what's still the smoothest, most efficient mulittasking OS around, the A4000 should be a contender in the multimedia battle with the PC.
A number of my online Amiga friends have been lustily eying the dropping prices on 486 PCs. I hope they'll see the potential of the AA chip set and stick with the Amiga. (I've used a AA Amiga. I know the AA Amiga. And you, Mr. Local Bus 486 PC, are no AA Amiga.) But while the A4000 is a great start, Commodore needs to do much more.
The A4000 is priced as a professional workstation, not as a computer for the rest of us. Hopefully, we'll see less expensive 68020- and 68030-powered AA Amigas based on the A4000's chasis soon. And how about a revised AA-based A600 powered by something better than the now anemic 7.14-MHz 68000?
A note here: Although my initial impressions of the A600 were less than favorable, I've been using one for about three weeks now and have discovered that it's a nice little machine. Having a transportable Amiga is quite handy--the whole set-up fits neatly into the corner of a small suitcase. And it actually displays readable 80-column text on a TV set. Appropriately, consider the computer it resembles, my A600's serial number is 064.
With PC prices continuing to plunge, $1,000 for a hard drive--equipped A600 with a color monitor won't be competitive for long. But if Commodore can get the street price of the basic A600 down to about $250 or so, it would fit in nicely as an alternative to both videogame consoles and cheap PCs. (Commodore U.K. has already dropped the A600's retail price by [Pounds] 100.)
Commodore seems to be getting its act together. The A4000 is a great start. Let's hope the company follows up quickly with an entire range of AA Amigas.