Contents | < Browse | Browse >

===========================================================================
                         OPINION: Amiga Advantages
  Nickolas Marentes                         skazoullis@eselink.ecn.net.au
===========================================================================

The Amiga is truly an impressive machine.  No other mass market personal
computer can boast such an innovative set of features and refined
performance.  The Amiga oozes with design excellence and custom
integration.  Yet, the Amiga is by large a forgotten architecture.  One
reads the newspapers and computer journals and there is never a mention of
the Amiga.  Instead, it is filled with news on the IBM PC world and to a
smaller extent, the Apple Macintosh/Power PC.  We read in the papers about
how Microsoft has unvield the next generation of PC operating system
featuring pre-emptive multi-tasking, long filenames, a true desktop graphic
environment and improved stability.

The Amiga had these features as standard from its very first day of release
yet for the majority of the general 'computer illiterate' public, these are
'new' features.  Even Apple is having a tough time making the public aware
that it too had these features for years.

When first introduced in 1985, The Amiga was truly a revolutionary
computer.  It was so far ahead technologically that for many, its technical
merits were not instantly recognizable.  The Amiga would demonstrate high
quality, jitter free animations accompanied by realistic stereo sound but
the public would shrug the display off as a "neat trick" with no real
application.

Now, ten years later, 100 Megahertz PC's equipped with 8 megabytes of RAM
and a CD-ROM drive are creating these same displays.  They now call this
"phenomenon", multimedia.

The truth is that PC's are catching up.  To the computer illiterate , the
Amiga is not spectacular.  In specification it has less RAM, a smaller hard
drive and lower clock speed than your average PC.  The look of the Amiga
1200 reminds people of the Commodore 64 while the price of the 4000 shuns
buyers aways as they compare it to most PC's.

So, with all this doom and gloom, what can be done to set things straight?
I believe the Amiga still packs several features which neither Mac or PC
can beat due to hardware and design limitations. 

1.  True broadcast standard video.  The Amiga can create high resolution
VGA (31Khz) displays for professional applications as well as low frequency
(15Khz) output for direct connection to television equipment and video
editing equipment without the extra expense of video converters.  The
ability to display a true overscan television image is perfect for video
titling and genlocking and means no black borders as on the PC when
displaying "full screen" images and movies.

2.  A high performance, low overhead pre-emptive multi-tasking operating
system.  The entire operating system minus graphic user interface is
contained on a 512K ROM.  This along with the low cost, custom designed
Amiga chipset make it a very economical yet feature packed solution for
many custom applications such as cable set-top boxes and micro controllers.

3.  Hardware auto disk-sensing.  Like the Macintosh, the Amiga knows when a
disk is inserted or removed from it's drives.  Unlike the PC's, when a
program prompts a user to INSERT DISK 1, the user does exactly that and
nothing else!  This makes the Amiga more intelligent and user friendly.

4.  Custom designed circuitry, designed to work together to achieve maximum
performance and throughput.  The Amiga can achieve high quality graphics
animation even when running a rather slow CPU (14MHz 68020).  PC's run at
100MHz or more nowadays yet much of the graphic animations and
multi-tasking that they create are riddled with jerky movement and sound
breakup.

The Amiga needs to develop applications in which these features are
optimised.  In other words, the Amiga needs to locate niche markets.  
Markets which the Amiga and only the Amiga can excel in.  Take NewTek's
Video Toaster card for example.  This card alone opened the doors to
hollywood for the Amiga.  Set-Top boxes is another area which must
addressed ASAP.

New developments in the PC will soon have the PC playing high quality MPEG
movies.  Several companies are already making inroads into the refinement
of the PC architecture.  It cannot happen overnight but it will happen. 
Amiga Technologies needs to get there first and it must do it at a lower
price.  The Amiga has the right technology and it has it now!