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%%  Review: CD32 S-Port                     By: David Steidley            %%
%%                                          STEIDLEY@cmsuvmb.cmsu.edu     %%
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PRODUCT NAME

        CD32 S-Port


BRIEF DESCRIPTION

        Connects the CD32 to a 25 pin serial port via the keyboard port.


AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

        Name:           Marpet Developments
        Address:        No. 57 & 58, Top Floor
                        Glasshouses Mill
                        Nr.Pateley Bridge
                        Harrogate
                        North Yorkshire
                        HG3 5QH
                        England
        Telephone:      +44(0)423-712600
                        +44(0)423-712601 (fax)

LIST PRICE

        I paid #24.68 wich comes out to be about $38 US.  I guess it
depends on the exchange rate.


SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

        HARDWARE

               Probably should have a CD32 on one end.  On the other end of
               the cable, you need the standard 25 pin RS-232 port.
               Technicaly, that means you could hook it up to an clone I
               guess, but you would need software for it.

        SOFTWARE

                It comes with every thing you need to get the two computers
                talking to each other.


COPY PROTECTION

                The software that is supplied is public domain.


MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

                A1200
                MBX 1200
                  4 Megs
                  882 Math-Co
                IDE Hard Drive


INSTALLATION

        Installing the S-Port is very simple.  It only requires you to
connect the cable into the keyboard port on the CD32 (there is a pass
through) on one end, and plug the other end into the serial port.


REVIEW

        What I wanted, was a way of using all of those Aminet, clip art,
etc... types of CD-ROMs.  I didn't need to add memory, another drive, math
co-processors, or anything like that.  I just wanted a way to get data off
of a CD and into my hard drive.  The S-Port does this.

        When you receive the package, you get three things.  The first is a
simple cable that hooks the two computers together.  The cable has two
key board connectors on one end and an RS-232 on the other.  One keyboard
connector plugs into the CD32 while the other acts as a pass through so
that you can still connect a key board.  Since I don't have a keyboard for
it, I don't know how well it works.  I am curious to know what happens if
you type while the two machines are connected.

        The other two parts to the package are the CD and disk.  The CD
will get the CD32 booted in workbench (Kickstart 40.60/Workbench 39.29 on
my machine).  It also has the feature where you can insert another CD
without it re-booting.  This will allow you to use the Fish disks and stuff
like that.  The floppy disk is for the Non-CD Amiga.  It has all of the
software needed to get the connection made between the two as well an
installer script for hard drive installation.

        Actually getting the two machines talking is very simple.  Since I
have a hard drive, I installed the program, and ran it from the there.
The program they give you is S/DNet.  To run it you simply click on its
icon on the "computer" side.  Once running, you select START DNET from the
menu.  Then, you must run SNET-START on the CD.  At this point I should
mention that I know of no way to do this WITHOUT a mouse connected to the
CD32.  Since I have several mice, it was no problem for me.  Anyway...

        Both computers whirled and clicked for a second and then indicated
that they were both talking to each other (Actualy, it didn't happen that
easy.  I had a problem with my preference setting not being set to 19.2K
baud.  Once fixed, it worked well).  You can use any number of ways of
getting data across.  But there is one large hassle that I will explain
later.  I also tried running programs from my A1200 that existed on the CD.
Although it took a little while to transfer over, it did work.


DOCUMENTATION

        There is not much to the paper documentation.  It is about the size
of a large greeting card.  However, I don't know that it needs to have
more in it.  They explain what each of the three parts are, and how to get
started.

        Also, on the disks are all the documentation for the S/DNET
programs.  However, this is only supplied by Marpet, it was written by The
Software Distillery.

LIKES

        It is inexpensive, and allows me to transfer/run files off of
CD-ROM.  Because it is nothing extreamly complicated, I believe that it
will be very reliable.  I should also mention that the cable is very well
made and looks sturdy.


DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS

        I guess I wish that it could transfer files faster.  If they could
come up with a cable that connected to the expansion port on the CD32 and
the Amiga's parallel port, I would buy it.  Of course, I would want the
price to be about the same.

COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

        The only other product that I have heard of is the Communicator II.
I have not seen it work, but it sounds very interesting.  It's only down
fall was that I was paying big bucks on long distance calls to England, and
bought the first product that the guy new of.  Unfortunately, he hadn't
heard of the Communicator.


BUGS

        For some reason, when I run SNET off of the hard drive, intuition
will not keep track of where it is in the path.  For example...

I type into a shell:

        SNET:CDPD <return>

My prompt comes back with the appropriat:

        SNET:CDPD>

Now, if I ask for a directory (using "dir", "list", "NewList") it tells me
that it can't find any information on  .  Note the spaces before the
period.  For some reason, it is not getting the proper information.  But,
if I type:

        dir SNET:CDPD

Then I get the appropriat response.  The same holds true for commands such
as "copy", but not exicutables.  For example, if I want to copy a file from
the CD to the A1200, I must give the complete path name, regardless of what
my current directory is.  But, if I want to execute that file (assuming it
can be), then all I have to do is type in it's name, and it works.  This
has me puzzled.

I have tried playing some of the mods that are supplied on the CD using my
own program (not the one on the CD), and use MFR to sellect the files.
This seems to work just fine.

All of that said, I should point out that this is not a problem with the
cable made by Marpet.  It is a problem with S/DNET:  So, if you get another
CD with a better program that uses the serial port, it should work.  Also,
I should mention that when I boot with Marpet's disk, the problem goes
away.  This suggests to me that maybe there is a compatability problem with
versions of my operating system.  I don't know, but it does NOT keep me
from using the set up.


VENDOR SUPPORT

        Because they are across the pond, I have not attempted to ask
them about the "bug".  They do provide a product registration card and a
full address, phone number, and fax number.


WARRANTY

        There is a two year warranty.

CONCLUSIONS

        This is what I wanted.  I can get all of the PD files, demos,
etc... and it didn't cost an arm and a leg.  I just wish that I could have
bought it in the US.  Not that I had any problems with the mailorder company
that sold it to me.  In fact, they were extremely helpful.  But, I had to
spend major bucks on shipping and phone calls.  But hey... I am still glad I
got it.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE

        This may be freely distributed in its original form.