News, Notes & Quotes
BY STEPHEN MORTIMER START CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
The long-awaited Atari Portfolio, described in The Traveling Computers in the October issue of START, began to ship in limited initial quantities to dealers in the United States in September. All peripherals for the Portfolio have been announced as being available by the time you read this. The Smart Parallel Interface ($49.95) allows direct connection to an IBM PC or a parallel printer. The Serial Interface ($79.95) connects the Portfolio to such peripherals as a modem or printer. The Memory Expander Plus ($229.95) adds memory in 256K increments up to a total of 640K. The Memory Expander Plus also adds a second SRAM card drive. A PC Card Drive ($99.95) lets IBM users read the Portfolio's SRAM cards directly, a much faster and more efficient process than transferring files between computers. Finally, a $9.95 AC adapter is available to save battery life. Call (800) 443-8020 to order a Portfolio direct at its $399 list price.
Prices for SRAM cards have also been announced. The 32K card is priced at $79.95, the 64K card at $129.95 and the 128K card at $199.95. While much higher than a floppy disk (and with less storage space), the SRAM cards have the advantages of being much sturdier and more impervious to damage. As the market grows for SRAM cards in general and production increases, prices are expected to decline.
Atari broke its long advertising drought in September with a double half-page spread advertisement in the September 19,1989 edition of The Wall Street Journal. The ad, the first from one of Atari's new ad agencies, showed a full-sized Portfolio with its low price strongly featured. Potential buyers were given Atari's (800) number to call Atari direct to order, as Atari is not shipping Portfolios to all of its dealers.
Rainbow TOS Released
Rainbow TOS, the new ST operating system previously known as TOS 1.4, should now be widely available to users who want to upgrade their STs. After being tested extensively, the new OS is reportedly very solid with compatibility better than the Mega TOS (1.2) version. Only a few new features have been added to Rainbow TOS with respect to the Mega TOS. Most of the changes are in the optimizing and debugging of the code to achieve a faster and more robust operating system.
On the desktop, users can rename folders, move files and even format disks in an IBM-compatible format. Disk access speeds have been dramatically increased. Other features include a revised file selector, the ability to run GEM programs from the AUTO folder, compatibility with high resolution monitors and a keyboard combination that resets the computer. Finally, memory management has been improved and a provision has been made for hard-disk archive bits. The latter option is designed to aid hard-disk backup programs.
Since documentation is not being shipped with Rainbow TOS, here are some useful hints. To move a file (copy a file, then delete the original), press and hold [Control] while dragging the files to be moved. For a warm reset, press [Control], [Alternate] and [Delete] simultaneously. For a cold reset (complete system reboot), press [Control], [Alternate], [Delete] and the right [Shift] key. A new ST manual covering Rainbow TOS maybe made available to current Atari owners. Also, you can find out why it's now called Rainbow TOS by licking on "Desktop Info..." under the Desk menu from the Desktop. Currently, only a six-chip version of Rainbow TOS is available. A two-chip version for older ST models is planned for the future. Dealers can modify two-chip computers to use six chips, but this is the reason Atari cites for not making the chip sets available separately. Retail price of Rainbow TOS is $99.95 plus installation. According to Atari, you can obtain the TOS upgrade from your local Atari dealer. For the location of your nearest dealer, call Atari at (408) 745-2367.
Imagen is currently working on a Terminate-and-Stay-Resident (TSR) version of its popular UltraScript PostScript-compatible interpreter. Users will no longer have to print a PostScript file to disk from a page layout program, then exit and run UltraScript to print out a document. With the TSR version, the process will be virtually transparent to the user. Programs that can output directly to a PostScript printer will be able to use the TSR version of UltraScript and print to any supported printer.
The price for UltraScript ST for the Atari Laser Printer as been lowered to $179. UltraScript ST-1 (the 1MB version of the program that prints to many different dot-matrix printers and the HP DeskJet/LaserJet) still sells for $229 but now includes the Times and Helvetica fonts in addition to the Lucida and Courier families.
CMI's Processor Accelerator, reviewed in the previous issue of START, now has a blitter-chip option. Atari has agreed to sell chips to CMI for inclusion on its boards. Current users can upgrade their accelerator with a blitter chip for $40. The ST-PA is $339.95 with a blitter chip installed or $299.95 without the chip.
Fast Technology has released the FASTBLIT board that retails for $49.95. It offers users the opportunity to add a blitter chip to any ST for the price of the Fast board and the chip. FASTBLIT also lets pc-ditto II work with Fast Technology's T-16 accelerator board.
If you have a hot tip let us know at News, Notes, & Quotes, START Magazine, 544 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107.