Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Finally, I own an Amiga 1200!

This is a big deal for me. When I was growing up, I always wanted an Amiga, I think I was intoxicated by the wonderful graphics from the games I watched being played on Gamesmaster. Compared to my Sega Master System, this thing was the mutts nuts. So, when I saw the opportunity to grab an almost mint Amiga 1200 on eBay, I jumped.

I had been after an Amiga 4000, but this was such a good deal I couldnt leave it alone. It even arrived with the original box and manuals. Things like this always make be happy. After some quick research on the Internet, I discovered that there were numerous upgrades available for this computer, including an acellerator board, a PCMCIA networking card and a SCSI interface for a CD ROM. The device I got came with an additional floppy disk drive, which was nice, especially if the internal one decided to give up the ghost.

With the Blizzard board fitted, I have now almost doubled the power of the computer. All I need to do now is fit some form of hard drive and upgrade the ROM's to KickStart 3.1. Once that is done, I will hook it up to the network and see what I can do on the Internet with it, probably some very self-congratulatory posts on FaceBook to announce its arrival on the Internet.

I dont think there are many 1200 specific games available, I think Beneath A Steel Sky is one of them. Hopefully I will be able to track down a copy and give it a whirl.

Monday, 23 January 2012

NEC PC Engine FX

A couple of months back, I took delivery of my latest console - the PC Engine FX. As far as I know, this was a 32Bit console that was only ever released in Japan, some how, a brand new boxed example managed to end up in Cornwall, thank God. Buying one of these from Japan costs a lot in shipping.

The device itself is a odd one. It is CD only, which isn't surprising, and it is designed in the style of a small tower PC. For some reason though, there a whole bunch of little secret compartments in the main body, I guess that NEC saw this a being a runaway success, so decided to make it extensible (even though by this time, manufacturers should have realised that upgrades like this didn't sell so well). I don't have any games for it yet, a lot of them seem to be JRPG's and my Japanese is non-existent. Once I find a good example of a Shmup or a brawler, I will fire it up and see how its years in deepest darkest Cornwall have gone down.

As far as I know though, this console wasn't even big in Japan... which I think is a bit of a shame really as it quite a charming little device. The joypads feel a bit cheap, but a substantial - and has six buttons, a staple for new consoles in the mid 90's.

I guess I just need to hit YouTube to get some vids of some of the games available for it, then hit eBay. I really must get around to recording some footage of these devices and upload them. I am not very sure how many other people are interested in things like this to be honest, but given the surge in interest in retro gaming recently, it may be good to talk about the 'also rans'.

Me and my new tablet

A friend of mine recently gave me a new Android tablet, I have had an Android phone for about a year now and have been nothing but impressed with it. That I like Android as a smartphone OS is a big deal for me - I am a reformed Nokia fan. Personally, I think Android turned up just in time, Nokia lost the plot a bit when it came to smartphones and let the iPhone steal a lead. Granted, Nokia had been trying to get tablet computing off the ground for a while (the N710 etc), but like its phone offerings, they seemed to lose touch with their consumer base (note to self, get on eBay to pick up an old Nokia tablet).

As you will see from my blog in previous posts, I love old tech and how it has influenced today's products. For example, the tablet I am currently using to write this post. It uses am Arm CPU, as do a lot of things these days, which of course is related to one of my favourite old school computers - the A7000+. It also uses a touch screen interface, which is normal on every device these days, but this tablet offers stylus input - this is unique I the days of multi touch capacitive screens. It almost seems old fashioned, years back we use to have to make do with a stylus on a resitive screen to have any form of input. These days it almost seems like a backward step to include something like that on a new design. Think Psion Series 7, this tablet I am using, a Lenovo ThinkPad, can use a stylus (unfortunately one doesn't come with it in the box), it can be usedfor regular operations  or for handwriting recoginition. Thankfully though, you can also make do with your finger for this - doesn't work so well with my blunt digits though!

Connectivity is wonderful to. I have WiFi and Bluetooth of course, however I also have a mini HDMI out, a full sized SD card slot and a SIM slot (although my model doesn't have a WWAN card - something I plant to remedy soon). Added to this, I also have a full sized USB port. This is primarily used for storage, which is pretty amazing on its own. I hooked up my 1TB USB drive with no problems. However, when I tried this with a wireless USB keyboard it did not work.

One thing I did find annoying was the inability of the Netflix app to work. It consistently complains of no network connectivity even though I have a good WiFi connection. Same goes for the Virgin Media app - a hold over from phone apps maybe? The BBC I player worked wonderfully though, and I was able to install all of my previously purchased apps as well.

One thing I am very keen to explore is the gaming potential of this device. At the end of last year two rather wonderful games were released for Android - Sonic CD and GTA3. I have Sonic CD installed at the moment and I love it. It is one of the games I keep telling myself to pick up for my Mega CD, but never do. With the release of the Wii U later this year, I can finally see why people are making a big fuss about tablet gaming.

Whilst I know this device will improve my productivity, I also know I will use it a lot in my down time. I have some films stacked up on now to watch on the journey to work. Hopefully I will also be able to find a Bluetooth gamepad so I can indulge in some Retro gaming :-)