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%% C.S.A Review: The Microvitec 1438 Monitor By: Fergus O'Hea %%
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Fergus O'Hea)
Microvitec 1438 Multisync monitor
A 14" colour RGB multisync monitor compatible with all AGA screen
modes, available with or without stereo speakers.
Name: Microvitec PLC
Address: Bolling Road
Telephone: (0) 274 390011
FAX: (0) 274 734944
Name: Microvitec (Deutschland) GmbH
Address: Heinrich Hertz Strasse 4
Telephone: (211) 920010
FAX: (211) 9200115
I paid 300 GBP for the 1438 monitor without speakers. Some stores
now sell the same monitor WITH speakers for around the same price, so shop
SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS
A 23-pin to 15-pin RGB adaptor is required, since the
monitor comes with an RGB lead ending in a 15-pin VGA style
D-plug. Amiga 4000 owners should already have this adaptor.
MACHINE USED FOR TESTING
Standard Amiga 4000/030.
Standard Commodore-supplied RGB adaptor.
I have also hacked the C= monitor adaptor to fix the AGA banding
problem. This hardware flaw in the AGA chipset causes noticeable vertical
stripes on screens using the higher bandwidth monitors like Multiscan and
DBLPAL. The simple fix for this, as posted some time ago on
comp.sys.amiga.hardware by Steve Cutting (Steve_Cutting@guru.apana.org.au),
involves soldering a resistor into the monitor adaptor. This fix worked
perfectly with my 4000 and 1438 monitor.
The RGB adaptor must be connected to the Amiga's RGB port, then the
RGB lead from the monitor plugs into the adaptor. The power lead from the
monitor ends in a standard 3-pin "kettle lead" PLUG, i.e., it can be fitted
directly into the main pass-through on the back of an Amiga 4000. Otherwise
the supplied "kettle lead" must be used.
The first thing I noticed when I took the monitor out of the box is
the case - it's pretty boring looking. A bit like an ultra cheap VGA
monitor. Just below the front of the monitor are the brightness, contrast,
size and centering controls (more about these later) and the all-important
on/off switch. The monitor comes with its own tilt/swivel stand, but as I
mentioned above, mine came with no speakers. A nice touch is the three-pin
"kettle lead" plug on the end of the power lead; this means that 4000 owners
can actually use that pass-through on the back of their machines instead of
having yards of black wiring running around behind their desks.
Installation was no problem. The strange shiny metal C= adaptor was
plugged in between the monitor and the Amiga, then both the monitor and the
Amiga were powered up using the switch on the front of my 4000 (because I'm
The first thing I noticed when my Workbench screen came up was the
flicker -- I had the screen mode set to "PAL:Hires-Interlaced" previously,
and on the 1438 it flickered even more horribly than it used to on my old TV.
Also, any *non-interlaced* PAL or NTSC mode now flickers a bit more than it
used to. I put this down to the fact that the 1438 specifications say it
has a low-persistence tube. No kidding! But that was just an initial
impression -- now I am used to the 50Hz flicker, and I don't even notice it
any more. Besides, no one would use a PAL or NTSC screen any more when they
can use the much nicer DBLPAL mode!
After one quick visit into the Prefs drawer, and I had my DBLPAL
Workbench all set up and ready to impress. But wait - the top and bottom of
the Workbench had disappeared off the screen, and there were ugly black
borders about 3 cm wide on either side. No problem, I thought, just adjust
the vertical size, no problem, and the horizontal size... BUT! There is NO
horizontal size control - a MAJOR flaw as far as the Amiga is concerned (I
have noticed the same borders when I tried a SVGA monitor on my machine).
In fact, there is no vertical position control either. All you get is
brightness, contrast, vertical SIZE and horizontal POSITION. Nothing else.
But don't panic. The default C= monitor drivers for DBLPAL and so
on may stretch and move the screen on your 1438, but all that is needed is a
little experimentation with MonEd and a (reasonably) full-screen display can
be achieved. (MonEd is available on the Aminet ftp sites.) I recommend
booting up some PAL or NTSC game and setting the monitor controls so that
the screen is centred fairly well on the monitor, and THEN fiddling about
with MonEd to arrange the DBLPAL, DBLNTSC, Multiscan, Super72, etc.,
monitors to give the best screen coverage. This will ensure that you won't
have to keep adjusting the monitor controls every time you run a
hardware-hitting game or demo.
Apart from that initial period of driver-hacking, I am very
satisfied with my monitor purchase. The picture quality of the 1438 is as
good as any monitor I have ever seen, the pixels are sharp, and the colours
really jump out of the screen. Mode-switching is also very fast. For
example, I estimate it takes maybe a tenth of a second to switch between a
Super72 screen (great for JPEGs) and a DBLPAL screen. In other words, the
monitor can re-sync about as fast as you can manually switch screens anyway.
A small booklet containing six pages or so of documentation in
each of six languages. There are the usual guidelines, precautions in
use, etc., and some basic installation instructions (plug the video lead
into the computer's video connector :-)).
I like the sharp and clear picture quality and the fast
DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS
I am disappointed that there is no horizontal size control. Also,
the quality of the monitor case leaves something to be desired -- it's fairly
cheap and ugly. I presume these two flaws exist because of efforts made to
reduce the cost of the monitor.
COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS
I haven't used any other multi-sync monitors for the Amiga. In
terms of picture quality alone, it is as good as any PeeCee SVGA monitors I
have seen, if not better.
I have had no reason to contact the vendor.
I am unsure of the warranty terms. In the rush to get the monitor
up and running, the guarantee card went missing :-). However, the user
manual states that UK users should return the monitor to the supplier (not
the manufacturer) if a fault appears.
Overall, this is a very good monitor for the price. I wanted the
cheapest multisync I could get for the Amiga, and this is it. Just be ready
with your copy of MonEd, and you will be happy with the 1438.
I'd give it 4 stars out of 5. The last star was lost because of the
omission of the horizontal size control and the somewhat grotty appearance.
Copyright 1994 Fergus O'Hea. All rights reserved. This review
is freely distributable. If you want to contact me by e-mail, my
address is email@example.com.