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bluejay

Is the Atari 400 Bad to Use?

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I'm considering on getting an Atari 400. I'd much rather prefer the 800, but I can't find one for sale at a reasonable price, and the 400 is mostly the same. Anyways, is the 400 bad to use? Is the membrane keyboard really bad to type on? How often are the keyboard keys used in games? Should I just calmly wait for another computer to pop up or just get a TI99/4a?

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if this is a serious post...

the 400 is fine and can be upgraded very easily...

the keyboard annoyed people back in the day... so they upgraded to better add on keyboards... but today, well today, so many people are used to touch screens, pads, and cell phones, that the membrane keyboard doesn't seem to bother the younger folks, and they actually like it.. I don't, but they do...

as for a TI99/4a.... yeah sure right...

Edited by _The Doctor__
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I love my 400, it has been upgraded to 48k and s-video but other than that is stock.

It is a great games machine and the keyboard really isn't that bad.

Of course you won't be playing any 64k games or ones that require the XL/xe os, so if you can live with that I'd say go for it 

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the TI99 doesnt have a delete key. so if you make a typo, do you have to start the whole listing from the beginning...?!

seems weird to me but the thing was designed back in the bakerlite age...

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The 400 is a nice machine and the video, audio and ram can be easily upgraded (assuming that you have some small amount of soldering experience).

 

I have the UAV board (s-video) and small computer audio board installed in mine (both from the brewing academy), along with tf_hh's 48K RAM upgrade.  So essentially I have a small form factor 800.

 

If you're going to be doing a lot of typing the keyboard will drive you insane though.

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Downsides of the 400 are memory as standard is 16K and you will really need 48K minimum and yes the keyboard is maddening especially if the contacts are worn and don't always make contact.

 

As a machine its good looking and the perfect partner in looks for Star Raiders but unless its at least and upgraded machine it would not be my first choice, 800 yes or 800XL and 800XL's are still quite common / cheapest of the set..

Edited by Mclaneinc

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I have four 48k’s for sale, two with custom dust covers ( one is on eBay ). FYI the UNO Cart works on these, so it makes them super useful for running games. PM me if interested.

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Aren't XLs easy to come by? Are you purposely avoiding non 400/800 machines? Agree with other(s), all ataris are great, but the 400s keyboard would get on my nerves if I had to do a decent session at the kb.

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Unless you are buying an Atari 400 to play non-stop rounds of Typo Attack, I'd say go for it and install the 48k mod. Also fun fact: Typo Attack was programmed using a 400, an Atari Assembly cartridge, and a 410 cassette deck.

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Inevitably, views on the keyboard are very individual.

 

When working properly, as membrane keyboards go it is about as good as they get and not, to some at least, unpleasant- even for extensive typing.  Certainly much more pleasant than typing on a screen.

 

Few games require ultra-responsive keystrokes as critical actions tend to be joystick-based- on the subject of which, IMHO and experience, for responsiveness the classic CX40 Atari joysticks have never been surpassed.  I never came close to the same scores using a wide variety of other more 'sophisticated' and expensive controllers.

 

You will almost certainly want at minimum a 48K upgrade, although there are very many cartridges which will run perfectly well on a 16K machine.

 

The styling is a bit 'Marmite' as we say in the UK, and there's no doubt the 800 is a better machine, but personally I do love the 400 too!

 

The TI99/4a is not a bad machine, but I can't think of  a good reason to go for one instead of any Atari computer...

Edited by drpeter

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The 400 is awesome. Note the keyboard is smaller than standard so it's not just the membrane issue. I would not want to play a keyboard heavy game on a membrane 400 like Ultima or an infocom, etc.. The 400 is a very unique design and super retro. They are very cool but IMO not a first first choice for a primary A8. So yes, the 800 is better first machine but if you are waiting for an affordable 800 and have the budget go with a 400 or an XL/XE. The stock 400 only has RF video, too. Also the 800's can have cracked plunger issues with the keyboard.

 

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400s are so beautifully designed; like futuristic retro.  The keyboard might not be the best to type on but it sure does *look* nice!  I much prefer a 48K upgraded 400 to a stock 800.  

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I have a 400 and I don’t mind it. However the memory issue is limiting, and seeing as I don’t have soldering experience, it’s not likely I’ll be upgrading it anytime soon. I wish I could find one of these plentiful+cheap 800XLs people are mentioning in this thread. :)

 

I will however agree that it looks really really cool. When I caught a glimpse of it sitting in the display case at my local game store, I put down the money for it fast!

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Hi,

 

   If I was only going to get 1 Atari 8-bit machine, I would probably go for an 800XL purely as it has 64K, socketed chips, and a reasonable keyboard. It's probably also the cheapest (and probably commonest) machine you will find on eBay, etc., though your mileage will vary, and it depends if you are in a hurry or not. A 400 has 4 joystick ports (the 800 xl only has 2), but only 16K RAM standard, and I prefer a full travel keyboard to a membrane keyboard. If you get something like an sdrive-max, you should be ok for storage and playing/using most 8-bit software (some programs will only run on XL/XE machines, not original 400/800 systems).

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the colours on the 400 membrane keyboard have that undeniable '70s styling tho 😎

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4 hours ago, The Strangest said:

 I wish I could find one of these plentiful+cheap 800XLs people are mentioning in this thread. :)

Try the European eBay sites, especially UK, Germany, Poland.  The later Atari machines sold better in Europe than the US and there are plenty still around. This will also get you a PAL machine, which as long as you can hook it up to a compatible monitor/CRT will be compatible with more of the later commercial and homebrew software.

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7 hours ago, drpeter said:

The TI99/4a is not a bad machine, but I can't think of  a good reason to go for one instead of any Atari computer...

That's exactly why I'm hesitating, since I like Atari better than TI but the TI99/4a has a "proper" keyboard.

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What killer games are there for the TI99/4a?

I can think of a lot for the Atari 400 - but they'll require more than 16K.  I think you can get someone to do the memory upgrade (and other upgrades too?) for you.  I hope to eventually get an Atari 400 (with all the extras) at some time...  What are good enough reasons to get a TI99/4a?

 

Harvey

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5 minutes ago, kiwilove said:

What are good enough reasons to get a TI99/4a?

 

Harvey

As I said, it has a proper keyboard. Also, the Atari 8 bit requires a separate cartridge for BASIC. By the way, the TI99/4a has a lot of the games that the Atari 8 bit has. Also, the TI has a 16 bit CPU(bit wars!).

Edited by bluejay

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