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A case for lower end Atari models - is there one?


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#1 6BQ5 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:21 PM

I've always been fixated on the higher end models: the 800, 800XL, and 130XE. The lower end models, the 400, 600XL, and 64XE, disappear into the shadows for me.

 

Is there a place for these lower end models in today's Atari scene?

 

Is there something these models can do or be upgraded with that the higher end models cannot?

 

I just wonder if these models will one day be relegated to a footnote in Atari history if they haven't already.

 

Enlighten me. :)



#2 JoSch ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:34 PM

A 600XL is easily upgraded with tf_hhs memory expansion. Then you have a computer in a smallest package, you can get an Atari in. Think game console in your TV rack.

Edited by JoSch, Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:35 PM.


#3 Osgeld OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:46 PM

They tend to be cheaper to get and with the current offerings in upgrades everythimg is about equal

#4 Urchlay OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:59 PM

I've always been fixated on the higher end models: the 800, 800XL, and 130XE. The lower end models, the 400, 600XL, and 64XE, disappear into the shadows for me.

Nostalgia doesn't have to be logical. If someone's first computer was
'low end' Atari model, they'll want to hang on to it or replace it with
the same model if it's gone.

The 600XL also might fit on your desk better than any other Atari. I've
got one with the 64K RAM upgrade (2 chips, 3 wires) and composite video
output. It's the equivalent of an unmodded 800XL in a smaller package
(OK, minus the luma output, when/if I need to use it with a monochrome
monitor it's easy enough to add a wire for the luma).

A 65XE basically is the same computer as an 800XL (minus the PBI port,
if you're in the US). What's not to like?

You didn't even mention the 1200XL, there's quite a few 1200XL die-hards.
I've got one and I love it, though right now it's sitting on a shelf
(again, limited desk space).

A lot of us want to have at least one of each model. Though I admit I
got rid of my XEGS (wasn't using it, someone else is using it now).

The 400 was my first computer. I currently don't have one, but my 800
makes a nice substitute (the 800 was the one I wanted, but the 400 was
cheaper so that's what the parents got me). I probably will pick one
up someday and use it strictly for cartridge games (the crappy membrane
keyboard doesn't matter so much for Star Raiders or Defender).

Eh, I'm rambling now... I guess the short version is, which Atari(s)
you like & dislike is purely a matter of taste, there's no right or
wrong answer.

#5 SS OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 2:07 PM

A 600XL with a memory upgrade and a SOPHIA board is just about the coolest Atari that you can get. Big power (well, big for an Atari at least!) in a tiny package.

tf_hh is doing some really impressive stuff for the 600XL at the moment; I am probably going to buy a second 600XL soon in order to take advantage of it. :)

#6 Nezgar OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 2:13 PM

400 upgraded to 48K RAM and a video output is every bit as good as an 800. Edit: oh yeah, the keyboard.. :)

600XL upgraded to 64K and a video out is as good as an 800XL, except physically smaller.

A 65XE upgraded from 64 to 128K is as good as a 130XE. (Except some don't have ECI)

Each has upgrade options to take RAM, video, sound, cpu, etc way beyond that.

#7 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 2:41 PM

I need eci, I need pbi, and the 400 needs joy/io port fix..

 

but some upgrades add those back in for 800, and 1200XL.

 

so I really can't get behind a 400 yet no pbi and io/jport issue, and the 65XE in the USA no pbi/eci... well they are out until that's remedied.



#8 manterola OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 2:56 PM

I grew up with 800XL around me, that was the most common home computer in my country, (I haven't seen an 800 or 400 ever in my life.)

Then the 65xe and 130xe came out and I was able in that point to put my hands on a 65XE which is very similar to a 800XL in term of compatibility and memory. That was my first computer. I still have it. 

So lots and lots of 65XE were sold, and there were also very popular, 130XE was too expensive. The 65XE we get down there in Chile, were almost always with ECI (still NTSC).

Few years ago I transform my 65XE in a 130XE for less than $20, I got 3 EMMUs (just in case, you just need one) some sockets, two caps and obviously 2 ram chips: tms 4464. 

So 65XE are very easy to convert 130XE as long as your 65XE uses the 130xe motherboard.

Same with 600xl, easy to convert to 800xl with 3 wires and 2 tms-4464, but you also need to make an opening for the DIN monitor connector and in my case I got an UAV to produce the monitor signals (audio out signal is already there in the pad).

I really love the lo-end XE model since I grew up with a 65XE. I love the 600xl since it is (in my opinion) a better looking XL-style console, beautiful, compact and after mods, just like an 800XL.


Edited by manterola, Thu Apr 25, 2019 2:57 PM.


#9 Lord Thag OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 3:00 PM

Affordability is the main case. They're cheaper, but upgrading them is often cheap. Once upgraded, there's no real practical difference, outside the 400s membrane keyboard. 



#10 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 3:09 PM

so I really can't get behind a 400 yet no pbi and io/jport issue

 

What are you referring to here?



#11 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 3:23 PM

i've had issues with certain items only working on port 4....none of the others, while they work on more than one port in the 800, probably the same issues with light pens etc.


Edited by _The Doctor__, Thu Apr 25, 2019 3:24 PM.


#12 Nezgar OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 4:23 PM

i've had issues with certain items only working on port 4....none of the others, while they work on more than one port in the 800, probably the same issues with light pens etc.

 
From the FAQ:
Also, on the 400, Controller Jacks 1-3 do not support a light pen / light gun,
only controller port 4 can be used.  This effectively makes many light pen / 
light gun programs incompatible with the 400.

Also, the 1030 modem can't do tone dialling with the 400:
    - Tones for tone dialing are generated by the computer and reach the
         1030 via the SIO sound INPUT line (thanks to audio noise/leakage)
          - Tone dialing not available on the 400 (Owner's Guide page 7)

Some previous discussion about this here, along with link to an ANTIC podcast with the designer of the 1030 DTMF function:
Reference: http://atariage.com/...00#entry3819737

#13 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 6:35 PM

yup, so fixes are needed before I'd suggest anyone get a 400 ;)



#14 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 6:45 PM

 
From the FAQ:

Also, on the 400, Controller Jacks 1-3 do not support a light pen / light gun,
only controller port 4 can be used.  This effectively makes many light pen / 
light gun programs incompatible with the 400.
Also, the 1030 modem can't do tone dialling with the 400:
    - Tones for tone dialing are generated by the computer and reach the
         1030 via the SIO sound INPUT line (thanks to audio noise/leakage)
          - Tone dialing not available on the 400 (Owner's Guide page 7)
Some previous discussion about this here, along with link to an ANTIC podcast with the designer of the 1030 DTMF function:
Reference: http://atariage.com/...00#entry3819737

 

 

Given how fundamentally similar the 400 and 800 are under the hood, that merely begs the question of what's different about the 400's joystick ports compared to the 800's, and even for the 400, why and how is port 4 different electrically from ports 1- 3?



#15 kiwilove OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 6:47 PM

Some people did start off an Atari 400 or 600XL - 16k machines - and they easily outperformed their competition.

And even the occasional later game of today - can run off one.

 

When  Ataris got to be ignored - it's supporters always felt that - that it's hardware still had the potential to deliver quality results.

And so later on  the homebrew scene delivered some gems indeed.

 

But hard work had to be undertaken to get the results out.

 

The hardware is one thing - and needs the software to show it all off.

 

Harvey

 



#16 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 6:47 PM

I remember vaguely that some of the transistors needed to be swapped, something about motorola being noisy or out of spec, but there has got to be more to it of course .



#17 6BQ5 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 8:52 PM

Lots of good info here!

 

I forgot that the lower end models didn't have the same A/V outputs like the higher end units. True, anything can be modified these days. There's enough tribal knowledge here in this forum alone to fill the world a few times over. :)

 

I didn't mention the 1200XL because it didn't have a contemporary lower end peer. Atari took a swing at the upscale market but pulled back. I can understand. They needed something lower end to compete with in the price war. Rather than redesign the system they cut cost in an existing system. But, that's a different topic for a different thread.



#18 slx OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:17 PM

The 400 has the most 70s space-age razor-sharp looks and is the most colorful outside. If you upgrade it to 48K you can play most period games on a very retro-looking machine. Composite/S-video output is available via tf_hhs SCCC.
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#19 Osgeld OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:27 PM

 True, anything can be modified these days. 

 

I got a pal 65XE junky machine for like 35 bucks here in the USA a couple years back

 

sure I could turn it into a 130, but its currently hosting 512k (cause I am too cheap for a Ultimate 1MB) UAV (though it supported svideo already), dual pokey's and a intergrated SIO2SD

 

as someone who never owned an atari computer before phht 2014 (though grew up with every other 8 bit on the market) there's not a compelling reason to get a upper end model darn well knowing that if I want to play along with today's scene ... I am going to end up buying the same upgrades 

 

it would be different if I had a boss atari from back in the day and its been in my hands since childhood and I love it cause it did, but yea there's your case for the lower end atari's ... its cheap arse mod nerds wanting to dive in the deep end for as little investment (and possibly offence) as possible 


Edited by Osgeld, Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:29 PM.

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#20 youxia OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:54 PM

Perhaps slightly off topic but this is something that was on my mind for some time now: which model is the best (aka cheapest) to get to play all the games? I'm mostly interested in retro ones, not the homebrew. Also, with cheapest upgrade possibility to an SD media and decent CRT TV output (ideally RGB)?



#21 Larry OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:29 AM

My favorite used to be the 130XE -- for many years.  (I never minded the keyboard and tolerated the cartridge port on the back.) But now, it's the 600XL.  I did the DIY KJMann video upgrade and have an Antonia (SRAM/OS) board in it. Compact, great keyboard, cartridge port on top -- nice!  The 800XL is also great, except the first thing one needs to do is fix the atrocious video.  1200XL?  Really nice, but really big, eating up a lot of desk space. No PBI, cartridge port (tunnel) on the side, and usually poor video are major detractions.

 

I never understood the apparent fascination of some folks with the 400 -- that "keyboard" can only be politely described as an aberration.   800? It was my first Atari, so I still have a certain fondness for it, especially with an Incognito in it -- but man, that thing is BIG.

 

-Larry



#22 baktra OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:50 AM

Perhaps slightly off topic but this is something that was on my mind for some time now: which model is the best (aka cheapest) to get to play all the games? I'm mostly interested in retro ones, not the homebrew. Also, with cheapest upgrade possibility to an SD media and decent CRT TV output (ideally RGB)?

 

It depends on your location. In Europe, that would be Atari 65XE/800XE/130XE (these were designed to be cheap and are quite common). In US that can still be 800XL.

The XL/XE line plays most of the games originally created for 400/800 (thanks to translator disk or patching), the 400/800 models do not play XL/XE games unless upgraded with Incognito board.

 

Models to avoid (in your case): 400/800 (rare, expensive, need to be upgraded to 48 KB of RAM), 600 XL (needs to be upgraded to 64 KB of RAM).


Edited by baktra, Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:52 AM.


#23 Wrathchild OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:08 AM

The 800XE I don't think we had in the UK, first I got to see one was when attending AtariAda in 2005



#24 baktra OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:44 AM

The 800XE I don't think we had in the UK, first I got to see one was when attending AtariAda in 2005

It is just rebranded 65XE for Czechoslovakian market. The idea was to indicate that the computer is a successor of 800XL that was popular in that country.



#25 Tezz OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 26, 2019 6:31 AM

The first Atari I was able to buy was the 800XL in '84, I bought a 130XE in '89 from Silica to have a 128K machine plus I quite liked the updated ST/XE styling despite their reduced build quality. As much as I liked the XLs by the end of the 80's I thought the styling of the XL range with it's brown and off white was starting to look a little too 70's. When I got back into things again in the early 2000's I bought a 65XE and modified it with a 32-in-one OS, 320Kb and VBXE which was my daily machine for several years using SIO2PC until I packed it away during construction work at home. Afterwards I didn't have the same desk space to spare so last year I decided to revert back to the XLs and build a modified 600XL with Ultimate 1Mb, VBXE2/DIN13, Simple Stereo POKEY/Uswitch which was undertaken by Jon. Now that the 600XL can be upgraded to such a degree it's definately one of the coolest Atari's to own. I've got the XL quality back and I love it's diminutive size.


Edited by Tezz, Fri Apr 26, 2019 6:32 AM.





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