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%% The Retina Z-III Video Board Part 3               by  Jason Compton  %%
%%                                                jcompton@bbs.xnet.com %% 
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Part 3:  Emplant and a conclusion

Well, I slapped the Emplant back into my machine (I had taken it out
because I suspected the Retina board was preventing it from 
configuring.  I touched on this problem in an earlier section.  NoahJi's
tech sometimes has an autoconfig problem with his Z-III as well, and
we both own 3000s.  We can't explain, though.)  and took it for a whirl.

I wish I'd done it sooner.

This is pretty.  Very, very pretty.

It comes at a cost, though.  The Retina, like all other 24-bit boards that
Emplant supports, can't show other 24-bit screens at the same time.
Jim Drew himself pointed this out.  Oh well.

Throwing the Emplant into 256 colors...
-----------------------------------

Hey, come on, I only own a 3000, I've been using the Emplant and A-Max IV
in 16 color modes for months now.  I've lived, it's been ok...but I've 
known the display refresh wasn't terrific.

With the Retina Z-III, it is now.

Jim Drew himself recommends the Z-III as the fastest board for Emplant
use.  I can't confirm this, since this is the first 24-bit board I've 
done work on, but I CAN say this.

It's fast.  The pointer zooms smoothly around the screen.  No more 
flashing. No more 3000 scan-doubled breakup.  Just zooms along like a 
Mac should.

For some reason, the Emplant always seems to start up in 256 Greys.
No matter, just switch it over to color...

Very, very nice.  I can't keep repeating it, so I'll just talk about how a 
few programs perform...

GIFConverter
-------------

Well, it views GIFs and converts others just fine, although I have run
into some memory problems.  (Incidentally, I get about an extra 512k
for the emulation now that it's going through the Retina's video).  The
colors are right, the display is snappy...it works, mate.

Spectre
-------
I figured it would work, since it works on the standard Emplant output.
Yep, it works here, too...VERY, VERY prettily and with great screen
updating.

Mac BZone
---------

This is a BattleZone clone...another 3D vector game.  Again, very
good performance, despite the fact that a requester...oh, excuse me,
DIALOG BOX ("request" sounds too unpleasant for the Mac crowd)
comes up and informs you that the game works much better in 2 or
16 color mode.  Looks fine in 256 to me...very nice, smooth graphics.

Rescue!
-------

A takeoff on Star Trek: The Next Generation, this game looks pretty
good in 16 colors anyway.  I was hoping, though, that with the Retina
it would REALLY impress me, especially because it would move so
much smoother.  Well, for some reason, it thinks that it's running on
a black and white Mac, and loads itself accordingly.  That's a shame,
and I can't figure out why it's happening.

That brings me to an important point: I have yet to find a way to shift
the display BELOW 256 colors.  You might wonder why I'd want to...
some Mac games demand it.  I can't help it.  There's apparently
no way to do it, though.

Setting up all this good stuff...
----------------------------

Making the Emplant and Retina Z-III get along isn't the easiest thing
in the world, though...you need to use the Retina screenmode select
programs to inform it of what sort of screen you'll need the Emplant
to open, otherwise Emplant won't be able to get going.  It's not
HARD, but it's a bit time-consuming.

Benchmarks!
-----------

Ah, yes, you knew they were coming, didn't you?  Courtesy of
Speedometer, here are the rules:

All tests are run 5 times on a 256 color screen with no Amiga background
programs running.

No Mac programs are running other than Speedometer.

Results are indexed to a Mac II at 1.0.

Retina Z-III Resolution                         Score
640x480                                         1.814
1024x768                                        1.794
1280x1024                                       1.766

Retina sundry...
----------------

In this section are things that I never had a chance to explore, either 
because of lack of time or experience.

The Retina Z-III can run applications designed for the Harlequin graphics
card. This should excite people who wanted the power of that hugely 
expensive piece of hardware.

AnCoS Jr. is included.  This acts as a sort of takeoff of ADPro's FRED and
allows 192x144, 16.7 million color resolution.  AnCoS 2.0, sold 
separately, is much more powerful, "replaces applications like the 
Personal Animation Recorder entirely", and both versions do not need the
Retina to work.

RACE, an animation creation system, allows for both lossless and lossy
animations.  It features functionality in any screenmode and depth, RAM
and HD spooling, and the multipic.library, letting you use several
different picture file formats (still no GIF support, though!)

I could have told you more, but they didn't send me the RACE manual.

In Conclusion...
----------------

The Retina Z-III 24-bit graphics card is, overall, great.  The Workbench/
Intuition emulation is surprisingly good and flexible, the picture viewing
is excellent, and it actually supports some sort of animation.  Its 
performance with the Emplant does both cards justice and rounds out the 
Mac side's operation.  Its included paint program is good-at least that,
for free.

It's not perfect, though.  At a price of $800 for the 4 meg version (used
in my tests), it's not for everyone...probably not for the user who will 
only use it for one specific purpose.  The lack of GIF support is a bit 
surprising, but surmountable using Viewtek or the like.

The manuals...well, hope for the best.

I guess the ultimate question is, "Will I be sad to see it go?"  Well, of
course.
I was having a blast with an $800 piece of equipment I didn't pay for.
Seriously, though, it has been a welcome addition to my 3000 and will
be missed.

The Retina Z-III 24-bit Video Board
A MacroSystem Gmbh product

Supplied in the US and to Amiga Report for review by:
NoahJi's
3591 Nyland Way
Lafayette, CO  80026
USA
(303) 499-1975