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Atari Lynx was superior over GameBoy.

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I would say the Lynx was a faliure because Atari made it, and Atari did'ent have control over 3rd party devolpers to the exstent Nintendo had, had Nintendo made the Lynx, with the same desighn and advertising campain, it would have been a sucsess.

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One thing they should have done (this would hold true for Sega too) is release an even more compact version, with no backlighting at all, use a reflective screen so it looks good unlit and now you've got a nice system that's color that Nintendo still won't be doing for many years to come and a system lasting far longer than the current Game Gear, possibly more compact as well. Switching to 4 batteries micht work too (certainly get it smaller), granted some of the components would need to be modified for the change in voltage, but this is no different than Nintendo's switch to the Pocket. Battery life would be more limited, but still cheaper (in overall design too), allow it to be more compact, and makes it easier to carry spare batteries (or possibly a rechargeable pack) than it is with 6x AA's.

Sweet Idea, of course, the Gameboy got reduced life due to no real huge hardware changes, while the lynx in their process of getting rid of the backlight, would have actually extended it's life, probably 3 or even 4 times, even with reduced batteries. :D

 

Heck, I've thought about gutting out one of my Lynx 2's and putting a transparrent top and a mirror behind the screen to lite it, just to see how long it would run if it wasn't supplying that power hungry bastard backlite.

 

Might still do that, as I have one I need to take apart and repair the keyboard anyways so it'll register button pushes again.

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I've read somewhere (dont know the source anymore) that Atari was advised to release that huge machine of a lynx I, because people would like to have something big in their hands for the price of the lynx, could this be true? I own the lynx II and to me it doesnt feel very solid, so the size could be reduced?

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RJ Mical:

Probably the most important thing I learned from the Lynx: never trust focus groups. In all the focus group testing, and we did a lot of it with consumers, we had a bunch of different models that we showed them. [We asked] "which one do you like? Which one would you like to have it be?" We showed them big ones; we showed them little ones. We showed them gigantic ones; we showed them little tiny ones. They loved the big ones. They all told us, "Make it big. Make it big. This one feels like it's substantial and I'm really getting my money's worth." They all told us to make it big, so we made it big. And when it came out on the market, they all said, "Why is this damn thing so big?" It'd drive me nuts, because the original Lynx was mostly air space inside. We put it in, because that's what they told us they wanted

 

I wonder how small the lynx could be and how the other prototypes did look.

Edited by roland p

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Yeah, same thing with the 5200... THough I think that was marketing at warner rather than consumer consulting through a focus group. (though the 7800 proline controller supposedly came about from conumers' syggestions)

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If Atari had loads of money, the Lynx would have been a sucsess, but thats the same case with all Atari products, the only reason the 2600 was a sucsess was cos Atari were rolling in cash at the time.

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Or ratherAtari was owned by a company with deep pockets. (Warner Comunications) Though the 2600 did have other advantages as well, and the Atari name had been growing by the time they were picked up by Warner. (most notably with Pong) Still, they probably wouldn't have had the necesary funding to properly support the 2600, or had they tried it could have been slow going.

 

Before Warner though they were relatively successful, though money was always tight and they were often close to the edge financially. Again they had been building a name for themselves though: starting wwith the moderately Successful "Computer Space" (the first video Arcade game to se comercial success, and was produced before Bushnell and Dabney had formed Atari), and later with the much more successful (and well known) Pong, first in the Arcade, later released as a home console as well. So Atari had certainly been building a following in the fledgling market. Again, they would probably have struggled a lot trying to manage a launch anywhere close to what Warner did, and wouldn't have been able to compete as well with competing companies with bigger wallets. (like Mattel and later Coleco)

 

 

ANd it wasn't just the money that hurt the Lynx, though a tight budget was certainly part of it. It didn't have the necessary developer support (agan, in part due to funding, but not all), which is particularly unfortunate as the Lynx has been expressed in having some of the most freindly systems to program for.

Edited by kool kitty89

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Another thing was the fact that Atari programmers had to use the Amiga to program an Atari Lynx... I often wonder if the Lynx was turned into a home console with a 68000 CPU instead of a portable device, could it have gone head to head with SNES or Neo Geo for that matter. It had a 16bit data bus with a graphics chip and a 16bit coprocessor for multiply and divide stuff, but only used an 8bit CMOS as a CPU. The only thing I see that could hinder the system is the sound chip... That little system had serious potential it just needed the games and third party support for longevity. I look foward to getting one those new USB flash carts.

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You'd have to modify a lot of stuff, the sound hardware was a bit weak (though flexible, using DAC with the CPU -no dedicated sound processor or DSP- is limited -the CoCo did this too).

 

You'd also have to modify the video hardware, I don't know if it was capable of higher resolution, but the 16-color limit is certainly significant. Plus, it would still be pushing against the Genesis's release date and still have to cut through Nintendo's tight market. (which really wasnt acheived until 1991 by Sega)

 

I'm not sure whay they released dev tools for the Amiga only (did they release other later?), it would seem a little odd to limit themselves like this. (granted I would assume the Amiga decision would have been made prior to Atari picking it up -other wise that really makes no sense)

 

 

in the line of a home console, it would have been better to go with something derived from the ST line, I'm not sure how much it could have been optimized and modified for the task (stripping it down and altering some of the video and audio features to better support this), but at minimum it could have used the same video, added an FM synth chip, some nice controllers, and a good case design. (with a consolidated board with perhaps 256 kB of RAM)

Basicly released in place of the XE Gaming System- in 1987. (you could even use a similar case design, though honestly I'd alter the color scheme a bit, perhaps the traditional Atari black, seperating it from the compuer, and making it more reminicent of their game consoles)

 

I beleive '87 and '88 were the 7800's most successful years as well, so this would give it time to pick up steam before becoming the main system. (and a good head start over the Genesis and SNES, not to mention lacking the issue of clashing with the Jaguar, as a Falcon based console might)

 

 

Again this is getting off topic, and as I already mentioned, IMO the bast hardware change on the Lynx would be elliminating the backlight in favor af a reflective screen, and a more compact design using fewer batteries. (preferably smaller than the Game Gear)

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Again this is getting off topic, and as I already mentioned, IMO the bast hardware change on the Lynx would be elliminating the backlight in favor af a reflective screen, and a more compact design using fewer batteries. (preferably smaller than the Game Gear)

:lol: That design change would never happen back in the day. A transflective colour LCD would have been far too costly. Even with that sort of LCD you'd still need a lower power backlight for playing in poorly illuminated areas. As for batteries, you need as many as it takes to power it. Games are not normally concerned about current consumption on their host platform. They want to go as fast as possible in most cases. In which case you can't reduce power consumption by frequently going into idle/sleep.

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The Lynx was most definitely easier to program for then the Jaguar, however they were in a diffrent league, one was a console and one was a handheld. Godamit!

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The Lynx was most definitely easier to program for then the Jaguar, however they were in a diffrent league, one was a console and one was a handheld. Godamit!

You've programmed for both machines to make a comparison then? :lolblue:

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I'm just curious as to why he feels the urge to start so many "I think this or that console was best or superior" and "this or that failed because" threads? :ponder:

 

Although I do have to say seeing some of the tech posts from some of you all is really amazing and you've got a lot of knowledge!

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I'm just curious as to why he feels the urge to start so many "I think this or that console was best or superior" and "this or that failed because" threads? :ponder:

Maybe he's insecure about the size of his Atari :lol:.

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You'd have to modify a lot of stuff, the sound hardware was a bit weak (though flexible, using DAC with the CPU -no dedicated sound processor or DSP- is limited -the CoCo did this too).

 

You'd also have to modify the video hardware, I don't know if it was capable of higher resolution, but the 16-color limit is certainly significant. Plus, it would still be pushing against the Genesis's release date and still have to cut through Nintendo's tight market. (which really wasnt acheived until 1991 by Sega)

 

I'm not sure whay they released dev tools for the Amiga only (did they release other later?), it would seem a little odd to limit themselves like this. (granted I would assume the Amiga decision would have been made prior to Atari picking it up -other wise that really makes no sense)

 

 

in the line of a home console, it would have been better to go with something derived from the ST line, I'm not sure how much it could have been optimized and modified for the task (stripping it down and altering some of the video and audio features to better support this), but at minimum it could have used the same video, added an FM synth chip, some nice controllers, and a good case design. (with a consolidated board with perhaps 256 kB of RAM)

Basicly released in place of the XE Gaming System- in 1987. (you could even use a similar case design, though honestly I'd alter the color scheme a bit, perhaps the traditional Atari black, seperating it from the compuer, and making it more reminicent of their game consoles)

 

I beleive '87 and '88 were the 7800's most successful years as well, so this would give it time to pick up steam before becoming the main system. (and a good head start over the Genesis and SNES, not to mention lacking the issue of clashing with the Jaguar, as a Falcon based console might)

 

 

Again this is getting off topic, and as I already mentioned, IMO the bast hardware change on the Lynx would be elliminating the backlight in favor af a reflective screen, and a more compact design using fewer batteries. (preferably smaller than the Game Gear)

To me, the backlight was one of the best features, not having backlight is why the Gameboy was awful. Still don't understand why people bought it. Lynx and Game gear were superior for playing. You could see the Da** game!

Edited by atarian63

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The gameboy was compact, initially much cheaper than its competitors, had a very long battery life on 4 AA's (with standard alkalines still long by today's standards), and was backed by the biggest name in video gaming market (in NA and Japan) at the time. (and lots of software support)

 

Also a reflective screen may suck in dim situations, but beats a (similar quality, of which the original GB's screen was not) backlit screen in direct sunlight (even Nintendo's DS sucks there).

 

Nintendo users were stuck with unlit reflective screens untill 2003, so that's a long time, so any competition wouldn't be at a disadvantage in that respect and prior to 1998 they'd have the color advantage as wel. (same going for the Game Gear)

 

I still use my original gameboy, and granted the screen blurs a bit (durring motion), but I end up using it far more often than the pocket, or my little brother's GBC or GBA (which have superior screens) For one reason, I prefer the feel (the others are actually a bit too small), the battery life still seems better than the others (most certainly the CBPocket), definitely has the loudest speaker (without headphones) and I've never really minded the screen quality, I actually like the softer look of the green screen to the sharper GBP/Color/Advance.

 

Now this may be partially be due to me being nearsighted, and thus seeing very well up close, so I may have less issues with seeing the screen than others; I've never really had trouble with seeing it clearly, even in moderate light conditions. (though obviously it isn't good in dim conditions, though I still find it useable indoors, away from unshaded windows during the day, with lights off)

 

 

I was never suggesting a transflective baclit screen either, as I think I've clarified a bit, I meant a noremal reflective screen with no light at all. However, without a transflective screen or true bbacklight, you could stll have built in lighting in the "sidelit" fassion, as Nintndo did with the Gameboy Advance SP. This could allow the "sidelighting" to be provided by a couple LED's directed through a diffusing filter to scatter the light fairly evenly accross the screen, and still far more energy effecient than the flouro tubes used to light the Game Gear, Nomad, and I assume Lynx as well.

 

The only actual issue with using less batteries (technically speaking) would be modifying the system to run from a lower voltage power sourse. (6V instead of 9)

Edited by kool kitty89

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You'd have to modify a lot of stuff, the sound hardware was a bit weak (though flexible, using DAC with the CPU -no dedicated sound processor or DSP- is limited -the CoCo did this too).

 

You'd also have to modify the video hardware, I don't know if it was capable of higher resolution, but the 16-color limit is certainly significant. Plus, it would still be pushing against the Genesis's release date and still have to cut through Nintendo's tight market. (which really wasnt acheived until 1991 by Sega)

 

I'm not sure whay they released dev tools for the Amiga only (did they release other later?), it would seem a little odd to limit themselves like this. (granted I would assume the Amiga decision would have been made prior to Atari picking it up -other wise that really makes no sense)

 

 

in the line of a home console, it would have been better to go with something derived from the ST line, I'm not sure how much it could have been optimized and modified for the task (stripping it down and altering some of the video and audio features to better support this), but at minimum it could have used the same video, added an FM synth chip, some nice controllers, and a good case design. (with a consolidated board with perhaps 256 kB of RAM)

Basicly released in place of the XE Gaming System- in 1987. (you could even use a similar case design, though honestly I'd alter the color scheme a bit, perhaps the traditional Atari black, seperating it from the compuer, and making it more reminicent of their game consoles)

 

I beleive '87 and '88 were the 7800's most successful years as well, so this would give it time to pick up steam before becoming the main system. (and a good head start over the Genesis and SNES, not to mention lacking the issue of clashing with the Jaguar, as a Falcon based console might)

 

 

Again this is getting off topic, and as I already mentioned, IMO the bast hardware change on the Lynx would be elliminating the backlight in favor af a reflective screen, and a more compact design using fewer batteries. (preferably smaller than the Game Gear)

To me, the backlight was one of the best features, not having backlight is why the Gameboy was awful. Still don't understand why people bought it. Lynx and Game gear were superior for playing. You could see the Da** game!

 

Yea I agree... The backlight was very much an asset to the Lynx.

 

I think they made Lynx tools for the Atari ST latter on during the systems life span. I do know for a fact that the Lynx sound system used a "Sound Programming Language or SPL." According to some documents I found some time ago it was a tool "by musicians for musicians" which was created to somehow take advantage of the Lynx unique sound system, which was very similar to the 2600 sound chip if I'm not mistaken, but a little better then the 2600. I've physically opened a Lynx 2 system and found that the CPU is a nice size chip; I wonder sometimes could a 68000 be put in there, but then that's just my own personal curiocities.

 

The Lynx graphics chip "Suzy" allows for roughly 75 frames-per-second with a resolution of "160 x 102 standard resolution (16,320 addressable pixels)" according to Wikipedia. If you double that resolution it equals 320 x 204, which could mean that the frame rate would be reduced in half to roughly 38 frames-per-sec? The Neo Geo standard screen resolution size is "320 x 224," which is just a little more then the Lynx if "Suzy" was to do Neo Geo style resolution. The Lynx is a little power house, which is why it used up so many batteries so quickly, but I think the backlit had something to do with that. As far as the 16 simultaneous colors goes... I have no answer for that one other then to do what many did on the Genesis which is to allow for colors to be changed randomly per scanline. The Lynx will only display 12bits of color.

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Either way, the Lynx was the most powerful portable console out at the time, I don't think it would have been a good choice for a home console though; as far as "what ifs" go in that area, thare are a lot of other missed opertunities prior to this. (several 68000 based systems, an ST derivative for one, or prior to Tramiel, there were plans for an Amiga derived console, and Atari's own Sierra 68000 computer project which I beleive had been cancelled in 1983 after Kassar left; there's also the Gaza design, but that seems more expeisive, and more like a workstation though both of these latter 2 are fairly vague in discription)

 

 

As for the sound, AFIK the Lynx sound has nothing to do with TIA or POKEY, from what I;ve read it features eight 8-bit DAC's which I beleive are controled through software (I haven't seen mention to a dedicated sound controller/processor). I'm not sure what other features are these, or what you can do through the DAC's (the digitized samples are pretty clear though), it does sound strangely like a POKEY in many instances though (which itsself is reminiscent of TIA's sound in some ways, though much better, certain effects, especially the nois generation are quite distinctive).

 

Nevertheless the sound is usually a better than similar games on the Gameboy, and (particularly) the Game Gear. (like the Master System -and Atari ST for that Matter- the sound capabilities were pretty limited compared to the NES, Gameboy, let alone the Lynx)

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while the system is certainly much better in terms of tech it is lacking in library and battery life also the size isnt exactly portable...hurts my hands to but then again we've seen nintendo do stuff like this with its freakishly small gba micros I find this photo hilarious :) my micro and my lynx 2

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Pics here text below :ponder:

 

Now that's a system made by Americans, for Americans...

Edited by CRV

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I think they made Lynx tools for the Atari ST latter on during the systems life span. I do know for a fact that the Lynx sound system used a "Sound Programming Language or SPL." According to some documents I found some time ago it was a tool "by musicians for musicians" which was created to somehow take advantage of the Lynx unique sound system, which was very similar to the 2600 sound chip if I'm not mistaken, but a little better then the 2600. I've physically opened a Lynx 2 system and found that the CPU is a nice size chip; I wonder sometimes could a 68000 be put in there, but then that's just my own personal curiocities.

SPL is a very good language, but it lacks a few features (which I'm sure would have been implemented if hell froze over and Atari was successful) which would have helped musicians out. A 68000 would be detrimental to the Lynx's performance. It's a great chip, but it has no place in the Lynx hardware.

 

The Lynx graphics chip "Suzy" allows for roughly 75 frames-per-second with a resolution of "160 x 102 standard resolution (16,320 addressable pixels)" according to Wikipedia. If you double that resolution it equals 320 x 204, which could mean that the frame rate would be reduced in half to roughly 38 frames-per-sec? The Neo Geo standard screen resolution size is "320 x 224," which is just a little more then the Lynx if "Suzy" was to do Neo Geo style resolution. The Lynx is a little power house, which is why it used up so many batteries so quickly, but I think the backlit had something to do with that. As far as the 16 simultaneous colors goes... I have no answer for that one other then to do what many did on the Genesis which is to allow for colors to be changed randomly per scanline. The Lynx will only display 12bits of color.

320x204 is four times the number of pixels. The issue with the Lynx operating at a higher resolution is fill rate and memory consumption. Unlike the GameBoy and Game Gear (aswell as most other raster-based consoles of the time), the Lynx uses a full framebuffer in memory, and at 160x102, it uses about 8KB of it. Add another 8KB for double buffering and you have a whopping 16KB of memory used by your framebuffers already. If the Lynx was using a 320x204 resolution, the buffer for a single screen would eat up 32KB of memory, leaving no room for a second buffer. Suzy would also need a fillrate tolerable for a buffer this size, which it doesn't. 160x102 is absolutely the optimal resolution for the Lynx.

 

As for the 16-Color issue, yes you can change palettes during the LCD refresh, but it's not too big an issue since it's a 12-bit palette in the first place. When doing certain artwork, the real limitation is usually in the amount of colors you can select *from* rather than how many you have.

 

Either way, the Lynx was the most powerful portable console out at the time, I don't think it would have been a good choice for a home console though; as far as "what ifs" go in that area, thare are a lot of other missed opertunities prior to this. (several 68000 based systems, an ST derivative for one, or prior to Tramiel, there were plans for an Amiga derived console, and Atari's own Sierra 68000 computer project which I beleive had been cancelled in 1983 after Kassar left; there's also the Gaza design, but that seems more expeisive, and more like a workstation though both of these latter 2 are fairly vague in discription)

The Amiga and 3DO are essentially the home console versions of the Lynx, they follow many similar hardware philosophies, and of course were designed by relatively the same group of people.

 

As for the sound, AFIK the Lynx sound has nothing to do with TIA or POKEY, from what I;ve read it features eight 8-bit DAC's which I beleive are controled through software (I haven't seen mention to a dedicated sound controller/processor). I'm not sure what other features are these, or what you can do through the DAC's (the digitized samples are pretty clear though), it does sound strangely like a POKEY in many instances though (which itsself is reminiscent of TIA's sound in some ways, though much better, certain effects, especially the nois generation are quite distinctive).

 

Nevertheless the sound is usually a better than similar games on the Gameboy, and (particularly) the Game Gear. (like the Master System -and Atari ST for that Matter- the sound capabilities were pretty limited compared to the NES, Gameboy, let alone the Lynx)

The Lynx's audio actually is somewhat similar in structure to the TIA and POKEY. Each of the four channels is composed of a down counter, polynomial counter, waveform generator, and DAC. The heart of everything is in the polynomial counter, which allows you to (cheaply) make a wide variety of waveforms instead of just square waves. So the sound programmer can easily use square, saw (ish), triangle (ish), and noise waveforms with varying duty cycle and "accuracy." The strength of the Lynx audio is that you have all of this waveform variety, but the hardware has no volume or pitch sweeps built into it, so you must do complex envelopes in software (Which isn't too big a deal, the PC Engine is in a similar situation, albeit with much greater capability per channel). You can also shut off the audio hardware for any of the four channels and write directly to the DAC(s) for sample playback, but this of course takes some CPU time.

 

Compared to the GameBoy, the Lynx's audio hardware has a few strengths, most notably the DAC access, but the GameBoy's structure is extremely good for music. Hardware sweeps, variable duty-cycle square waves, and even a small sample playback system (PC Engine style). The GameBoy really is a fantastic design. The Game Gear, honestly, has some of the most boring audio hardware I've ever seen. You have to be really creative to get good tunes out of it.

 

I hope this has been helpful and informative.

Edited by TailChao

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I'm just curious as to why he feels the urge to start so many "I think this or that console was best or superior" and "this or that failed because" threads? :ponder:

 

 

Thats easy he is simply doing it to inflate his post count and thus his rank and second he gets the side benefit of trolling and starting small flame wars for his enjoyment as evidenced by his reply in this thread that he started: http://www.atariage.com/forums/index.php?s...=145320&hl= his reply at post #21 is very telling as to his intentions when he started that thread.

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I'm just curious as to why he feels the urge to start so many "I think this or that console was best or superior" and "this or that failed because" threads? :ponder:

 

 

Thats easy he is simply doing it to inflate his post count and thus his rank and second he gets the side benefit of trolling and starting small flame wars for his enjoyment as evidenced by his reply in this thread that he started: http://www.atariage.com/forums/index.php?s...=145320&hl= his reply at post #21 is very telling as to his intentions when he started that thread.

We'd best be prepared, then.

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