Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 146 / NOVEMBER 1992 / PAGE G22

Ultimate GEOS. (computer-related supplies) (Column)
by Steve Vander Ark

In an IBM magazine recently, a senior editor describes his quest for the ultimate PC. The cost of this system would buy a pretty nice sports car.

That started me thinking about the ultimate GEOS setup. I wondered just how powerful GEOS could be with all the right gizmos hooked up to it. And, since Christmas is just about once again to take over prime time and the malls, I figure this is a great time to make yet another GEOS wish list. While the total wouldn't buy a snazzy sports car, it might be enough to buy, oh, a used Ford Escort.

My dream GEOS setup has to start with a computer, of course. I'll go with the 128, since an 80-column screen is essential. Now, the 128D does have a detachable keyboard, which is nice, and an extra 64K of video RAM, but I don't like the idea of having that darn 1571 permanently set up as drive 8. I have much better ideas for disk drives, so I'll stick with the flat 128.

One advantage to the Commodore computer is that you don't have to spend heaps of money on extra cards to do things like create color screen displays. Our 128 has 40-column and 80-column modes built right in; all we need to do is to choose a monitor which can display either mode on command. Since nothing but the best will do for our ultimate setup, I'll add a Commodore 1084S monitor.

Mode switching can become a constant chore when you work with GEOS on the 128; many programs, from little utilities like Blue Pencil to big utilities like geoPublish, run fine on the 128 but demand 40 columns. To make life a little easier, I'll add a 13-inch 40-column monitor on the side. You'd be surprised how handy this configuration can be. When you switch to 40-column mode, the image jumps from one monitor to the other, and the screen of the unused monitor goes peacefully blank. If you can't afford a second monitor, a color TV works about as well. I'm going for broke here, though, so I'll pick up an 1802 monitor.

One or two more details are needed before we tackle the big question of drives and RAM expansion. We must, for example, have an input device. Speaking from experience, having used a joystick, mouse, KoalaPad, and light pen with an assortment of drivers, I strongly recommend a mouse. Speaking from the experience of friends, the mouse of choice is the Commodore 1351.

OK, let's talk disk drives. It would be nice to include drives to handle both 5-1/4-inch and 3-1/2-inch disks. For the 5-1/4-inch disks, the best bet is the good old 1571, which can read single- or double-sided floppies. That's pretty much standard stuff.

Let's take a leap into the big leagues for the 3-1/2-inch drive. We have a couple of very impressive choices, now that Creative Micro Designs (CMD) has released a pair of high-density drives: the FD-2000, with 1.6 megs per disk, and the FD-4000, with a whopping 3.2 megs of data on a floppy! We're talking dream material here, folks! The ultimate GEOS system has to have an FD-4000.

That accounts for two of the drives. GEOS can effectively handle only three drives, so this next choice might be a little sticky. Some form of RAM expansion is a must with GEOS, but if it's configured as a RAM drive, there goes the third drive. It's hard to imagine an ultimate system, however, without a hard drive. For now, anyway, I'll just choose both.

The hard drive of choice will be one of the CMD HD-series drives, which are compatible with GEOS and practically everything else. Since money's no object, I'll take the HD-200 with 200MB capacity.

I do need RAM expansion as well, so let's take a look at the options. The Commodore 1751 RAM expansion unit can be upgraded to larger capacities than the stock 512K, but it's still a pretty bland unit. A much more exciting choice would be either the RAMLink or RAMDrive from CMD. Each has two invaluable features no RAM expansion device should be without: a separate power supply, which keeps the data intact when you shut down your system, and a battery backup, which means that in the event of a power failure, your data won't evaporate like spit on a hot skillet. Both are fine units. RAMLink can be upgraded to 16 megs, while RAMDrive is limited to 8 megs. RAMLink also can be fitted out with a realtime clock circuit to set your clock in GEOS, and it also features a pass-through port that I just might need before this system is completed. I'll add RAMLink, maxed out to 16 megs.

I'll have to decide how to configure all those drives when I pick a desktop program, but I'll do that next month when I talk about software. For now, let's recap my shopping list. 128 CPU (used) $ 200.00 1084S monitor $ 289.00 1802 monitor (reconditioned) $ 99.95 1351 mouse $ 32.95 1574 disk drive $ 100.00

(used) FD-4000 disk drive $ 300.00 HD-200 hard drive $ 1,099.95 RAMLink with battery $ 584.90 and 16MB RAM TOTAL $ 2,706.75