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bluejay

Is the Atari 400 Bad to Use?

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12 minutes ago, bluejay said:

Also, the Atari 8 bit requires a separate cartridge for BASIC.

That only applies to the 400, 800 and 1200XL. The rest of the XL lineup and the XEs all have it built-in.

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Just now, ApolloBoy said:

That only applies to the 400, 800 and 1200XL. The rest of the XL lineup and the XEs all have it built-in.

Yeah, but this thread is about how the 400 is bad to use, not the XLs and XEs.

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35 minutes ago, bluejay said:

the Atari 8 bit requires a separate cartridge for BASIC

I don't see this as much of a limitation.  Except for maybe SpartaDOS, I cannot think of anything that you would need the cartridge port for when you're using BASIC.

 

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1 minute ago, SS said:

I don't see this as much of a limitation.  Except for maybe SpartaDOS, I cannot think of anything that you would need the cartridge port for when you're using BASIC.

 

But that means I'll need to invest more money to make use of the computer.

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4 minutes ago, bluejay said:

But that means I'll need to invest more money to make use of the computer.

Yeah. Like $5 for a BASIC Rev.A cartridge. 

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1 minute ago, SS said:

Yeah. Like $5 for a BASIC Rev.A cartridge. 

It's still $5 that I could spend to buy an extra game. I don't happen to be an adult, and to me, every penny counts since I have to save up my allowance to buy something.

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If you're careful when making the purchase, the computer will come with the Basic cart.  Most of them do, it's a very common cart.

 

Also consider that with the 400 only having 16K of RAM, carts are about the only sure thing for gaming.  Many of the formerly disk based games won't run on a 400 as they were written for an 800 with 48K RAM.

 

Of course, this is JMO, YMMV.

Edited by Colleton
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6 minutes ago, Colleton said:

Also consider that with the 400 only having 16K of RAM, carts are about the only sure thing for gaming.  Many of the formerly disk based games won't run on a 400 as they were written for an 800 with 48K RAM.

 

Of course, this is JMO, YMMV.

That is, IF I manage to find a disk drive for a reasonable price:)

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If you're tight for cash you should be looking at an Ultimate cart or an AVG cart instead of a disk drive.  Maybe an SIO2SD or an S-Drive Max if you want to write data to a file.  You'd have access to pretty much any software ever developed for the A8 computers for free with any of the above devices.  Disk drives are (again, IMO) only useful for nostalgia and you aren't old enough for that to be a factor.

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I absolutely refuse to use any 3rd party stuff, under any circumstances.

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13 minutes ago, bluejay said:

I absolutely refuse to use any 3rd party stuff, under any circumstances.

Well, you'll really be missing out if you don't. There is some absolutely incredible stuff out there these days; multi-carts, disk drive emulators, memory upgrades, video upgrades, etc.  However if you really don't want to try your hand at any of this kind of stuff, then a 400 probably isn't what you're looking for.  You'll be much happier with a 800XL.  

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I know, but when I'm willing to use non-original hardware, why would I even buy retro computers/video game consoles in the first place, when I can always use an emulator?

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There's a big difference between using an old A8 computer with a multi-cart or an SD based disk drive, and emulating the computer itself.  The computer is the core experience and the carts and SD based drives are simply a convenience.

 

That said, I believe the reason many of us buy the computers instead of just running an emulator is nostalgia.  I know this is true for me.

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1 hour ago, kiwilove said:

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

 

 

There are a few.. Parsec is a great Defender-style shooter (that has since been ported to the A8).. Ambulance, Blasto, Microsurgeon are good ones too.. Nothing I would call "killer" but good. Still pick the Atari 8-bit any day.

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1 minute ago, Colleton said:

There's a big difference between using an old A8 computer with a multi-cart or an SD based disk drive, and emulating the computer itself.  The computer is the core experience and the carts and SD based drives are simply a convenience.

 

That said, I believe the reason many of us buy the computers instead of just running an emulator is nostalgia.  I know this is true for me.

Exactly, but not quite, IMO.

Emulators and stuff are for convenience. Original hardware is for nostalgia. I also find some 3rd party stuff to be unacceptably expensive, while its value decreases over time. I think that it's right to spend my money on an original disk drive than an expensive SD drive, when I'm willing to take enough inconvenience to use vintage hardware rather than an emulator.

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While it'll cost more going for a flashcart/SDcard over a disk drive system - I'll still think it's better for the long term to use the latest medium.

 

But you'll still need a 48K machine to run the killer games.

The likes of Encounter, Dropzone...

 

Don't know if you can run 16K games off a flash cart?

 

With a disk drive - I'll guess you could run 16K games if they boot off a single disk?

 

16K games that come to mind - are - Shamus, Stratos, Frogger, Sea Dragon.

Of course - you can run 16K carts fine - eg. Pacman, Pole Position, 

and Star Raiders (This is only 8K).

(note- that loading these cart titles off disk or flashcart - will most probably not run at all.  I'll take a guess their loading address

 is not the same as the original cart.  That they're not for 16K machines - but will work fine with 48k machines?).

 

One big homebrew game that can run off a 16K Atari 400 - is AtariBlast! - which I did test.

It runs off a 8mbit Atarimax cart (or equivalent)

 

Harvey

 

 

 

 

 

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Third party peripherals are part of why the computer was designed with cartridge slot(s), i/o ports(commonly referred to as joystick ports), sio port, and pbi / eci ports!

It is a key feature of the Atari experience to enjoy devices connected to these, and were the life blood of industrial Atari applications back in the day.

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10 hours ago, bluejay said:

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

Hmm.  A Commodore PET also has a proper keyboard and built-in BASIC...

As to the full breadth of quality software available, honestly there is no comparison between the TI and the Atari IMHO

The CPU register size is really not of any great practical importance, I would suggest. A bit like choosing a used car based on the number of cylinders in the engine...

 

Anyway, good luck and have fun with whatever you finally decide on.

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8 hours ago, Colleton said:

That said, I believe the reason many of us buy the computers instead of just running an emulator is nostalgia

Nostalgia is certainly a large part of the experience for me.  However if it were only nostalgia alone, I probably wouldn't keep coming back so often.  It really is modern additions that keep driving my interest.  Not only new SIO devices and multi-carts but also internal upgrades like new RAM boards, multi-OSs, and video upgrades.  I love making my machines jump through new hoops that they were  never quite designed for. 

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On 10/12/2019 at 12:25 AM, _The Doctor__ said:

if this is a serious post...

Well, I think that’s been sorted out by now: OP appears to be a teen nostalgist who has experienced the joy of keying in lengthy programs from ANALOG, and wants to recreate an accurate computing experience from 1979. When I myself was seven. I was going to write some wise words about being careful to avoid the aesthetic (and budgetary) horror of combining a 400 with a XF-551, but now I say go for it! But by all means do try for a 815 first and forget those silly SD devices. There’s nothing like that pure seventies rush of raw computing power.

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I'm not sure I get the thread, the person says they are short on money due to buying from an allowance but then refuses the cheaper options like an 800XL which gives you the 64K AND BASIC built in AND its easier and cheaper to source than a 400 that is 16K and no BASIC.

 

Also the non use of 3rd party stuff just mystifies me, again its cheaper than disk drives, ultra reliable and do easy to use..

 

Sure there are people on here that live and breathe Atari but even they use the 3rd party stuff. Its really odd to quote shortness of cash and yet want the most expensive way to play?

 

A 400 is a nice machine but its got some issues for you yet that's the one you want?    Confused..

 

I say get the Ti99, it seems you like that more?

 

Any way, your choice in the end, you have the needed info, young Padwan, choose wisely.. 

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As Mclaneinc and others have said, as a starter who likes to type in games and eventually use a disk drive, you should get an 800XL or if cheaper a 65XE as they come with 64k RAM built-in and a proper keyboard.

Also, I seem to remember the TI99 needed a Basic cartridge like the 400/800. Or was that just for a proper extended Basic?
 

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TI Basic was built in....There were other loadable Basics to be found, I'd nip over to Tandy to play with their machines just to see how they were, the keyboard was indeed nice but although there are similarities between the Atari and them (custom chips, sprites etc) I found the machine 'clunky' and just not as fun due to a lack of really good games. I'm sure many came out but at the time Tandy had next to nothing to show it off.

Edited by Mclaneinc
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An AVG cart is much cheaper and far more reliable than using a disk drive and you'll have a much bigger software library from which to choose. With 16K you won't be able to use the disk drive much anyway. However it's valid if you refuse to use modern tech, but with a limited budget that is not very compatible with using a disk drive and hoping to play very many games. A 16K 400 is not the best choice as a primary A8 machine. Regularly check your local craigslist and ebay for 800's and be patient.

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FWIW I ditched disk drives on my A8 setup over 11 years ago and I haven't looked back since. And as others have pointed out, using a disk drive with the 400 isn't worth it unless you upgrade it to 48K, since so many games and programs on disk take advantage of the extra RAM. If you really want to have a good A8 experience, get an 800XL or any one of the XEs.

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