Jump to content
ColecoGamer

I might be acquiring a Laser 128

Recommended Posts

I don’t know much about this Apple II/IIE clone, other than it being compatible with Apple II/IIE peripherals.
 

I was hoping someone here more familiar with the machine could tell me the pros and cons of using one, if any actually exist. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't bother with the original Laser 128 as it doesn't have the 3 speed accelerator, unless the price is quite reasonable.  The Laser128EX or EX/2 are the ones to get.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are two models of the Laser 128/EX2.  One with a 5.25" internal drive and the other a 3.5" one. Both my EX2's have the 5.25" in them as most programs were released in this format. There is an internal memory expansion card in the EX and EX2 that can be upgraded to 1MB.

 

Make sure you get a working power supply as both of mine are shot. They are both currently in storage with just my IIgs set up. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The IIc brick will work with the Laser 128's for power.  I always wanted an EX/2.  The only difference is, I think, they have a clock and an option to have an internal 3.5 drive.  Let me know if you want to part with one.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's been said that the Laser 128EX/2 is a better Apple IIc than the Apple IIc.

Even the keyboard is nicer.  And it's nice to have an expansion slot.

 

Been looking for one for ages.

Ironically back in the 80s and early 90s I ran a small computer shop with my dad and the Laser 128 was one of the products we carried.  

Never did own one, though.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Laser 128 is a good machine and arguably better than the actual Apple IIc.  Definitely worth picking up if you are interested in it and can get it at a very good price.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a Laser 128 EX/2. Compared to the Apple IIc, which was my first ever machine, I can share these pros & cons...

 

Laser 128 EX/2 pros: Expansion card slot, 3-speed accelerator with selected speed saved to backup RAM, 1MB RAM card standard, mine has the 5¼" drive installed.

Laser 128 EX/2 cons: Not 100% compatible with all Apple II software, bulkier than Apple IIc, keyboard isn't nearly as responsive as the Apple IIc (even after maintenance), system ROM doesn't support SmartPort devices such as HDD (though you can work around this using something like the "Booti" expansion card).

 

Apple IIc pros: Better compatibility with Apple II software, responsive keyboard, beautiful design, support for SmartPort devices such as HDD.

Apple IIc cons: No expansion card slot, RAM expansion is optional, no accelerator by default (though one can easily be added).

 

* Note that the original Laser 128's earlier system ROM apparently does support SmartPort devices, though I've never had the chance to try & verify. However it lacks the accelerator and doesn't come expanded to 1MB RAM.

* A Laser 128 is likely going to need some maintenance as soon as you receive it; they are not known for using the most high-grade components.


Anyway. Unless you plan to make extensive use of expansion cards, I'd recommend buying an Apple IIc over a Laser 128.

Edited by DeathAdderSF
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More pros for the LaserEX/2.

 

It has a built in clock over the IIc, although the IIc can be fitted with a No-slot-clock.  Same as the Laser128EX.

Can load the FP ROM into the Language Card from the Integer Basic days to be more compatible with more software.

Has built-in RGB output for color monitors.

SmartPort should still be available but don't know for sure for the EX/2.  I only had an EX and was still able to use a 312 Mb Focus Drive and get the first 4 volumes to mount.  All 10 volumes were able to mount on a IIGS.

The external slot is a big plus as it allowed CPM card to be used, but also parallel printers and pretty much any card based hardware.  The IIc can have CPM (but extremely rare card to find), but does not have an option to use any card based hardware.

 

One Pro for the IIc+ though is I was able to stick a 32 Mhz oscillator in and instantly get an 8 Mhz machine with no problems.  Don't know if the same can be said for the Laser series.

 

For me, in order of preference I would choose, IIc with ZRAM3 card that has CPM, Laser128EX/2, IIc+ with 8 Mhz, Laser128EX, IIc.  The external slot would be the deciding factor over the IIc.

 

Unfortunately the IIc+ could not make use of the ZRAM/CPM card, otherwise I would put it first.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good show adding those add'l pros. The EX/2 also has built-in support for MIDI devices, though I can't think of any situation where I'd actually use it.

 

The nice thing about the Apple IIc (and IIc+) is that a modern-day solution for the Mockingboard sound card exists, in the form of the Mockingboard 4c/4c+. However with this installed, you won't have access to the RAM expansion connector. Then again you can just slot a Phasor sound card in a Laser 128, and enjoy the add'l sound channels it offers.

 

I'm currently using an Apple IIc+ as my primary compact Apple II. However it's been extensively upgraded with:

 

- Headphone jack

- Mockingboard 4c+

- PS/2 keyboard adapter

- Modified system ROM to boot at 1 MHz by default, and restore the traditional "Apple beep."

 

The IIc+ has an internal 3½" floppy drive, which isn't very useful. But if you attach an external 5¼" drive, it's automatically configured to slot 6.

 

Unless you're willing to pay the high price for a IIc+, and at least upgrade the system ROM, I still recommend the Apple IIc ahead of the rest. But if you really want to experience the Laser 128, get an EX or EX/2. They're definitely nice machines, and the expansion card slot is extremely useful.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Adrian's Digital Basement on YouTube did a very good series on the Laser 128.  Definitely check it out (first episode below).

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to thank everyone who responded. 
 

I also have an opportunity to get an Apple IIGS, as well. But I realize there’s an expansion card needed to use Apple II software. I have seen this card on eBay, but it’s usually very expensive.

 

What to do…

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

o.o?

 

The Apple IIgs is compatible with the //e completely out of the box, you don't need a card for that.  Do you mean the Macintosh LC?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, The Usotsuki said:

o.o?

 

The Apple IIgs is compatible with the //e completely out of the box, you don't need a card for that.  Do you mean the Macintosh LC?

I read somewhere (which could be completely incorrect) that a floppy drive controller is needed to use an Apple II/IIE floppy drive on the IIGS. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, The Usotsuki said:

o.o?

 

The Apple IIgs is compatible with the //e completely out of the box, you don't need a card for that.  Do you mean the Macintosh LC?

For example:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Apple-II-IIGS-3-5-Disk-controller-card-1-44MB-original-box-w-install-software-/325037769476?mkcid=16&mkevt=1&_trksid=p2349624.m2548.l6249&mkrid=711-127632-2357-0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's an uncommon specialized card that was released for the Apple IIe/IIgs.  The smart port supports the "Apple 5.25 Drive" and/or "Apple 3.5 Drive" which are daisy chained together.  You use the IIgs control panel to controll the slot assignment(s).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Torrax said:

That's an uncommon specialized card that was released for the Apple IIe/IIgs.  The smart port supports the "Apple 5.25 Drive" and/or "Apple 3.5 Drive" which are daisy chained together.  You use the IIgs control panel to controll the slot assignment(s).

Thank you for the explanation! I made mention of it, because of something I read a long time ago (which was clearly incorrect information). I believe it was an old Reddit post from ages ago. I knew the IIGS was compatible with Apple II software. I had it in my head that you needed an expansion card to use the Apple II’s floppy drives.

 

I really appreciate everyone who took the time to respond to my post. 

Edited by ColecoGamer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, whichever Apple II you get, do yourself a big favor and purchase a FloppyEmu. That is, unless you prefer to muck about with floppy disks. Personally, I do both: I like the convenience of being able to download a disk image and use it instantly (FloppyEmu), but I also enjoy running all my existing software from the disks I've had for ages (disk drive).

Edited by DeathAdderSF
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, DeathAdderSF said:

Well, whichever Apple II you get, do yourself a big favor and purchase a FloppyEmu. That is, unless you prefer to muck about with floppy disks. Personally, I do both: I like the convenience of being able to download a disk image and use it instantly (FloppyEmu), but I also enjoy running all my existing software from the disks I've had for ages (disk drive).

$129 is actually a very good price for a floppyemu. I was considering both options - using a floppyemu, while also using floppy disks. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/17/2022 at 8:52 PM, DeathAdderSF said:

 

 

Apple IIc pros: Better compatibility with Apple II software, responsive keyboard, beautiful design, support for SmartPort devices such as HDD.

Apple IIc cons: No expansion card slot, RAM expansion is optional, no accelerator by default (though one can easily be added).

 

 

RAM can be easily added, certainly, and the RamExpress II+ from A2heaven.com is a case in point.

But what accelerator are you thinking of when you say an accelerator can be "easily" added to a genuine IIc?

Edited by Baldrick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe the ZipChip 4000 & 8000 can work on an original IIc.  But also very hard to come by.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Baldrick said:

RAM can be easily added, certainly, and the RamExpress II+ from A2heaven.com is a case in point.

But what accelerator are you thinking of when you say an accelerator can be "easily" added to a genuine IIc?

 

Indeed. I said RAM expansion was "optional." I didn't say "impossible." The handy thing about the Laser 128 EX and EX/2, by comparison, is that the RAM upgrade board comes standard. My EX/2 even came to me with the full 1MB installed.

 

Accelerator = Zip Chip. They were popping up quite frequently on ePay for a while. I even bought (and later resold) the 8 MHz model. Quite the speed demon.

 

Edited by DeathAdderSF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...