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Old 12 August 2015, 23:21   #1
Mrs Beanbag
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A600 - love it or hate it?

Well, people keep bringing this subject up elsewhere so i thought i'd give it its own thread...

My own take is that it's actually a great machine, but at the time it was released, a stupid business decision. Commodore seemed to suffer from a lack of joined-up thinking.

What you say?
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Old 12 August 2015, 23:45   #2
Predseda
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Very advanced in comparison to A500, although it has the same performance parameters in terms of processor, sound and mostly even graphics. Has built-in modulator, IDE and PCMCIA, which - in that time - was almost useless, but time proved it very viable. If I would have to decide between A500 (+) and A600, I'd go for June bug.
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Old 12 August 2015, 23:48   #3
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I remember thinking it was "crap" when it was released because it was such a minor upgrade over the A500+ and even the, by then, aging A500.
I was expecting at least a doubled CPU clock, but no...
In retrospect I know Commodore planned to make it a really low budget computer but in the end it sold for more than the A500+ so in that respect it failed to hit its intended target.
I also disliked it for the lack of numeric keyboard messing up compatibility with some games ( I played a lot of KickOff back then :-)
The built in HD interface was not such a big deal for me at the time of release, also a lot of A500 owners had those GVP side expansions at the time.
Then we have PCMCIA... do you know anyone who had something that utilized the port back then?

You can tell from all the surface mounted chips on the A600 mobo that it was intended to be cheap and non-upgradable.
It is something of an irony that the worlds fastest 68k Amiga is now an A600 with a Vampire board, but that is just a lucky coincidence, and not by design, I'm sure...

I should also mention that I was disappointed with the A1200 when it came out (still ran out and bought one though ;-) for similar reasons. (Disappointingly old and slow CPU (btw, I'd love to hear how much difference it would have made if they had put a 28Mhz 020 in it instead), not advanced enough graphics, no High Density drive, no fastmem).

I have a bunch of Amigas these days but I only recently acquired an A600 (to be able to test the Vampire v2 ;-) so i guess, i really never was a fan. In the end though, I'm glad to give it another chance to shine with the help from some clever ppl and a bit of FPGA magic..
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Old 13 August 2015, 00:11   #4
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This picture summarise what was bad about A600 from outside:



That PSU brick, almost bigger than the computer itself, and a prehistoric catastrophe called tank-mouse.

What I liked was the design of the main unit itself - tiny AMIGA sign in very good place that ballances the overall look, position and size of LEDs and angled floppy drive, together with side-mounted controllers ports (like those on C64) for easy access.

Last edited by Predseda; 13 August 2015 at 00:16.
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Old 13 August 2015, 00:43   #5
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I liked the idea of a compact Amiga, however the lack of numeric keypad was a dealbreaker for me (since i was doing music for protracker and instrument are also changed more easily through it)
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Old 13 August 2015, 01:41   #6
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"But it had no numeric keypad!". Seriously, that's all you can come up with? That's reason not to buy a machine?
Also in Protracker you can change instruments with shift+arrow keys or some such combination. HARDLY a dealbreaker. Deluxe Paint DID have some shortcuts inaccessible without a numeric keypad, but that's the software to blame, not the computer.

It's an excellent machine, A600 hate is usually based on ridiculous criticism, mostly to do with the aforementioned "missing" feature and with Commodore's poor judgement and business sense, which has nothing to do with the A600 itself.

They should have released the A600 earlier when it was the A300 and scrap the useless A500+. The form factor is great and the expandability (IDE and PCMCIA in my Amiga in 1992?!) has proved that the A600 has stood the test of time whereas upgrading an A500 type computer is only kinda viable now after ACA500 appeared. It's still cheaper to build a simple A600 system today with cheap IDE and PCMCIA adapters that let the machine communicate with the "real world" of 201X computing.
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Old 13 August 2015, 01:55   #7
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Hate, with a passion. A budget version of the A500+was a bad idea all along, the Amiga should have been punching up, not down. And why still only a one-button controller, how was that going to take on the consoles? But when they failed to actually make it cheaper than the A500+ it should have been binned, not released as a replacement.

The internal hard drive fitting was nice, and the Surface Mounted Technology gave a decent improvement in reliability, so ideally those features would have been in the Plus (or an A500+B), but only if a way of making accelerators for it had been worked out at the time. A cheap hard drive was only worth so much when you were stuck with the 68000.

The PCMCIA slot was fine, as far as it went. Not significantly better or worse than the A500's edge connector, but it left companies having to design new versions of their hardware for it - when many had just done that for the A500+, and Commodore knew full well that they'd have to do it for the A1200 in a few months. The issues with games and serious software (including the serious program bundled with the machine, whcih sums yup what an afterthought trying to market it as a computer was) were totally unpredictable for companies (so how Akira can blame them is beyond me) and were one more hassle for the games industry - again, Commdore knew full well that this was merely one hassle out of three in a year.

My suspicion is that having only the A600 out there panicked Commodore into rushing the A1200, knowing that there as no useful base-end Amiga for serious applications or flight sims (in particular) instead of waiting until the AAA hardware was ready and the A1200 could have been launched in late 1993 with higher specs and loads of software ready to launch. I'm not sure it's an exaggeration to say the A600 (and related Commodore idiocy) ultimately killed the Amiga, in fact.
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Old 13 August 2015, 02:04   #8
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That tank mouse didn't ship with any A600 I saw or sold in the US. They came with the little rounded-off mouse...

I like the 600. The only real complaint I have is the plastic case locks break off easily when opening them...
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Old 13 August 2015, 08:35   #9
StingRay
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Akira View Post
"But it had no numeric keypad!". Seriously, that's all you can come up with? That's reason not to buy a machine?
It's a very valid reason!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Akira View Post
HARDLY a dealbreaker.
Maybe not for you.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Akira View Post
Deluxe Paint DID have some shortcuts inaccessible without a numeric keypad, but that's the software to blame, not the computer.
Of course, the software is to blame for that because there are numerous Amiga models without a numeric keypad.



As for the topic, the only advantage of the A600 is the size which means it can be transported easily. Other than that, completely unnecessary Amiga model!
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Old 13 August 2015, 08:37   #10
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Mouse: tank mouse as long as stock lasted, later the same "round" mouse as shipped with A1200.
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Old 13 August 2015, 09:58   #11
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Just for cross reference: http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=60102

I personally think the A500+ is the worst, but the A600 (while having the advantage of PCMCIA/IDE and 1 MB chip) was again a really underpowered system at the time it was released. Today if you don't want to invest in an A1200 I can see that the A600 is the next best system to get to WHDLoad 'standard'.
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Old 13 August 2015, 10:17   #12
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Commodore went insane after some time. Seems they were still fighting the atari 520st that was gone long before. Why have a machine with A3000 os when it runs at 7mhz? Sure it's nice now, but back then this confused buyers. What to get? A500? A500+? A600? What about incompatible software? What if i buy this and they stop production after 6 months?
All of them are the same machine in the end with different ROMs. Why not make some standard for next gen amigas and make a cheap upgrade to original a500, make some small PSU, cheap ide hard disk etc.

Do I hate the a600? No, I just find it useless back then, but hey, it's useful now with ide etc. Mostly a c64 like Amiga. Made only for games.
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Old 13 August 2015, 10:59   #13
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I have often wondered two things about the A600

1) How did it ever come to exist?

Let's think about the NRE (non recoverable expenditure) of making it?
  • Most of the parts were "off the shelf" having been manufactured for years.
  • The PCB design would have been cheap.
  • The new SMT technology meant that PCB assembly would be considerably cheaper than A500+.
  • The Gayle chip (replaced Gary) will have cost $$$$$$$ to design and manufacture
  • The tooling to make the case & keyboard will have cost $$$$$$$.

There must be lots of things I don't know because on the face of it... it should never have existed.

2) Why didn't the keyboard have HARDWARE numeric keypad support? Laptops had been in production for many years at this point. All without numeric keypads and they all had a modifier key which enabled alternate functions (i.e. hold down FUNCTION KEY and press 7 for 7 on numeric keypad)
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Old 13 August 2015, 11:08   #14
Thorham
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Cool machine that was released too late.
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Old 13 August 2015, 11:41   #15
gimbal
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You can't play dungeon crawlers (Dungeon Master) with it properly - so it was a no-go for me as that was my favorite genre of game.

And there-in also lies a point and why I can't fill the poll that TCD linked to; I used an Amiga primarily for gaming so the A500 and A1200/A4000 were my kind of Amiga; I had no use for any of the other models. But that is far from the only use-case of an Amiga, different models had different strengths for different appliances (business, creativity, automating a nuclear power plant, etc).

So my question is: was there any use-case where an A600 would shine more than any other model? I never was able to think of something.
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Old 13 August 2015, 11:47   #16
Mrs Beanbag
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A600 is fine for most games, if you only need to play with joystick or mouse, it wasn't "better" than A500+ in that respect i suppose but was much neater physically.

but it's kind of why i don't understand Commodore's lack of forward thinking... it would have been trivial to design the A600 and A1200 boards and cases to be mutually interchangeable, but they didn't, and i would have thought that would even have cut costs as well.
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Old 13 August 2015, 11:54   #17
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I like it because it's cute and makes a great A500 "console" when you put a 1.3 kickstart in.

It was a very bad decision for Commodore at the time. Pretty much mid 80's technology in a smaller case. Pointless thing to do.
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Old 13 August 2015, 11:57   #18
Thorham
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You can't play dungeon crawlers (Dungeon Master) with it properly
Yeah, but only because they don't support WASD (meynaf's Dungeon Master port supports it).
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Old 13 August 2015, 12:01   #19
Mrs Beanbag
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especially with the A1200 only "round the corner", they could have at least put an '020 in, or thought of some way to upgrade to AGA when it was released.
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Old 13 August 2015, 12:30   #20
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I like the A600, I bought one simply because it had an Internal HD, all set up and ready to go.

My first Amiga was an A500, big as a house with a horrible OS (1.3). I sold it and bought the A600HD, loved it, never regretted it.
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