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                   Review: MindEYE from Geodesic Designs
                            By:  Jason Compton 
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The MindEYE is something we've been waiting for quite some time to review
here at Amiga Report.  We first heard of it, and its predecessor, the
MindLight, last year at the Amiga Atlanta 10th Anniversary banquet.  There
was an A1200 with a wacky visual show sitting on a table.  We were
introduced to the MindLight then, a piece of Amiga hardware from the 80s
that turned the noise and sound in a room into visual display.  Its
successor, the MindEYE, (which arguably should be named "The DJ's Dream")
is out now.

Unlike the Mindlight, which came in a clear plastic case (if you've seen
the GVP DSS8+, you get the idea), the MindEYE is a small, trapezoidal
prism-shaped box wrapped in holographic sticker.  All you see is a 9-pin
connector and microphone-type audio input on the back, and two knobs, a
pair of LEDs, and a small microphone on the front.

The developers at Geodesic Designs are well versed in the art of geodesic
mathematics, which is what makes the MindLight and MindEye work.  You don't
have to be interested in geodesic math to enjoy the MindEye, however.

The MindEYE's job, simply put, is to turn sound and music into a visual
display.  The guidelines for that visual display are set by the operator
(you) and the Amiga, but the form it takes on the display is in the hands
of the mathematical principles at work.

The unit comes with a 61 page manual and a disk containing the MindEYE
software.  Optional requirements include a good source of sound.

The MindEYE connects to the joystick port of your Amiga through an included
9-pin cable.  As soon as the Amiga is on, the MindEYE is functional and the
LEDs will pulse with the pickup of noise around it, but you'll see no
results until you run the MindEYE software.  There is a straightforward
tutorial included which will instruct you how to install the hardware and
software, set the knobs for sound threshold and gaiisk containing the MindEYE
software.  Optional requirements include a good source of sound.

The MindEYE connects to the joystick port of your Amiga through an included
9-pin cable.  As soon as the Amiga is on, the MindEYE is functional and the
LEDs will pulse with the pickup of noise around it, but you'll see no
results until you run the MindEYE software.  There is a straightforward
tutorial included which will instruct you how to install the hardware and
software, set the knobs for sound threshold and gain, and get your first
effects up on the screen.

The MindEYE software is really intended for NTSC or PAL video output, and
as such you'll get your best results using these.  AGA video modes and
color resolutions are supported in the newest software release.

The MindEYE hardware and software do some absolutely amazing audio effects.
By simply sitting around for an hour with a few friends, an A1200, and a
Siouxie and the Banshees CD, we got some brilliant color fades, polygon
patterns, and indescribable effects through a combination of blind hacking
with the software and following the included tutorials for advanced effects
in the manual.  In addition to its own line, polygon, and other graphical
effects, the MindEYE can take advantage of your own pictures and clipart
and incorporate them into its display.

The software implements dozens of different effects, many of which have
user-configurable parameters that quite literally mean that the MindEYE can
be in millions, if not billions, of different states for interpreting
sound.

There's really no question about it.  If you give the MindEYE's manual a
good reading and spend a half an hour with the MindEYE and a favorite CD,
you're going to be getting stunning visuals.  Whether you just let it suck
in noise from the room or take advantage of the direct input, you're in for
a treat.

Now, the question is--what do you do with that?

If you're a DJ with access to a video wall, I can't see you NOT using the
MindEYE.  With the included LIVE! board support (which we were unable to
test in time for this review, but hope to see soon), you can integrate the
dance floor into the visuals.  If you simply entertain at your house and
have a decent sized TV, an A600 or A1200 would make the perfect MindEYE
setup, since they can directly output to television and can be placed out
of reach but still put out a great show.

Getting what you specifically want out of the MindEYE can be a bit of a
task, however.  There are a lot of complex things going on inside the
Amiga, and the GUI interface of the MindEYE betrays its origins in the
early days of the Amiga.  While the software is functional on all modern
Amigas, the GUI has not received the sort of OS 2.x overhaul we often
expect.

This is not an insurmountable problem.  Because the software is certainly
designed with the concerns of a DJ or entertainment professional in mind,
virtually every option is keyboard controllable.  This is a double-edged
sword: it does mean that you can change effects on the fly with little or
no evidence on the screen, which is very important if you've got a crowd
out there and don't want to interrupt their visual orgasm with a big old
menu of buttons and a title bar.  The problem there is that you'll want to
keep the manual VERY close by until you're quite familiar with the
software, since virtually every key and key modifier has a purpose, the
numeric keypad numbers are not the same as the keyboard numbers, etc.

The MindEYE is, in a lot of ways, the best of both worlds.  It offers
instant visual gratification, but in the hands of a skilled operator can
turn out incredible images (see the MindEYE home page for an idea).  And
it's a continuing credit to the Amiga's architecture that such a device can
simply be plugged in and all of a sudden you have a dance club
entertainment box in your hands.  Whether or not that's worth the suggested
US$295 retail price is a question you'll have to answer.  But if you need
to have the latest Amiga toys, or think you could entertain with visual
effects, I strongly recommend investigating the MindEYE.


Geodesic Designs, Inc.
PO Box 956068
Duluth, GA  30136-9502
USA
770-822-0566 voice
770-338-8874 fax
geodesic@geod.com e-mail
http://www.mindeye.com