Tuesday, June 12, 2012

AmigaOne X1000 Initial Review!

Amiga X1000: An End-Users Independent Review

(I posted this review initially on this Amigaworld.net thread and here it is updated a bit)

I received my First Contact AmigaOne X1000 about a month or so ago now so it is only fair to let people know what to expect from this system, what it does and does not do.

Overall, I am a happy X1000 owner and glad I spent the money. It's a fun system.

I originally wanted it to replace all my Classic Amigas functionality from A2000 to A4000T - unfortunately it doesn't quite achieve that but it goes a long way towards my original goal. I still need my AGA Amigas for now.

I would have been much happier if it was $1000 less, so it was closer to a normal PC cost to be honest. I gather they aren't making much money on these systems so I guess it is ok.

Like all things in life, the Amiga X1000 has some great things, not so great things and some bad things.

I am aware a lot of people develop software for AmigaOS 4 and work hard to do it. I recognise this straight up, and I am very grateful for all work done to release software for
the Amiga. Any negative feedback below should not be perceived as anything other than an honest independent review of the software available and not aimed at anyone in particular.

Also, I could well have missed obvious forum documented solutions to some problems mentioned, and some might also suggest I didn't try enough things to get things happening. It may be true, but as an end-user I think there is a limit to how much people want to tinker to get stuff to work, and this kind of feedback should be said I think. I may have made some mistakes also - Don't shoot me please, I am trying to be completely honest in my feedback and don't have a lot of time to get this done.

That said, Let's dive in.

The Good things:
The case is great - I love the boing ball front. AmigaOS 4.1 Update 5 appears quite stable and responsive in normal usage. The included OS4.1.5 Bootable LiveCD is excellent, and a life saver for booting problems with the OS. Icon refresh, drawer loading and disk access times are great.

Compatibility with older Amiga icon formats is terrific and saves redoing them yet again - thanks for that! Copying files from USB is very fast on the X1000, much quicker than I was used to on the older Amigas with Deneb USB.

RunInUAE integration very welcome feature and works well to run old ADF ECS/OCS games and demos at full speed. I created customised UAE launchers for my Amiga 2000, Amiga 1200 and Amiga 4000 HD images I copied across to the Amiga X1000 and they run well.
Facebook, Google Chat, IM support is great. DOSBox runs well to run old DOS games and demos - some fiddling needed in the config files to get it working optimally but result is not bad.
Note that demos and games from late DOS period in 1997-1999 do not run well in DOSBox under X1000.

Playstation, Lynx, GBA and Sega Genesis emulation works well in limited testing. MUI-Mplayer works well for non-HD videos but requires some fiddling before it runs on X1000.
PDF displaying is so much better on the X1000 than on any previous Amiga. I have now got most of my Amiga magazines in PDF format on the X1000 to review as needed.

TuneNet - fantastic program and works well under OS4. Can play MP3, OGG, FLAC, streaming Groove Salad and more besides with no noticable system slowdown. Is there any possibility to include all the plugins by default? It would be great to have a itunes style database and display/filter of all music on the HD to make it easier to navigate music..

Cubic IDE - a classic Amiga program that works well under OS4 - I wish it had a portablE plugin though. DiskImageGUI - I use it on my classic Amigas too and glad to see it is included and resident by default and associations in place for the obvious image formats. I have all my Amiga Floppies in ADF and Amiga Cds in iso or ccd format now and on the HD for easy access as needed.

AmiCygnix - I am grateful for the work done in this area to get GIMP and other Unix applications ported to Amiga. Please, we need Open Office or LibreOffice!

USB joystick support works well in UAE and natively in OS4. Recent Elude demos for classic AGA Amiga work natively under OS4. Thanks for this support! Some native OS4 demos would be great!

An attempt to create an App Store functionality. This is a great start but needs to be developed more - people are time poor and want software to be simple to install and easy to run - the Apple App Store showed this to great effect. In a small community I think it is so important to have a centralised respository and framework for obtaining software that can be trialled and purchased via PayPal through a portal that abstracts the user from the backend installation, mui classes check, library checks and so on which should be in the background. I think this is achievable.

Network support works well, and easy enough to get online. I haven't tried out Samba and Apache yet but they are installed ok. I had to manually edit files to stop boot popups though...

The Not so good things:

Lack of promotion of the X1000 system beyond the core Classic amiga fans still left - People don't know it's out there and it's the real deal - a new Amiga! If no money for tv advertising use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other free means to spread the word - it shouldn't be a secret!!! Raspberry Pi showed how an unknown system can get mainstream coverage. A cheap entry level Amiga product is sorely needed, with the high end X1000 option if amiga is ever to stop being a niche computer.

Lack of original games to play. Most OS4 games are PC ports open sourced from over a decade ago. Battle of Wesnoth is good fun, even though it is a port. BOH was great fun game though and I am glad for an original game! I bought the 1941 Extreme DX Dual game too which was good fun. More original games please!

The AmigaOne keyboard and mouse looks and feels cheap. Which I guess it is. I know I can replace them but I want it all to match nicely.

AGA demos and games needing greater than 68020 do not run well under UAE emulation under OS4, even with tweaking refresh rates, etc. Perhaps this will improve with OpenGL support for the screen updates and using the other CPU core. I hope so because I want this to replace my all Classic Amigas including AGA when they inevitably stop working one day.

On MorphOS OWB has the option to download the correct fonts to display web pages, but this option is not available on OS4. Why? Is it possible to download the fonts separately and load them in somehow into OWB? The display between OS4 and MorphOS OWB is VERY different.
System Boot time is surprisingly long. My Windows 7 PC, MorphOS eMac and Mac OS X Macbook Pro boots much faster. I guess I expected it would be quicker.

No proper word processor. Cinnamon Writer is too buggy and crashes often without explanation. Find it is better to use old Classic Amiga word processors like Final Writer and Wordworth which have more features. I know it is a lot of work to port OpenOffice but I really think an MS Word compatible Word Processor is needed.

Have multiple image viewers (loView, PictureAlbum, etc) as there isn't a one size fits all thumbnail irfanview style image viewing and image manipulation tool natively for OS4. Need a iphoto style database of all photos on HD for easier viewing, etc.

Mame emulation on OS4 is hit and miss. Some games work well, many don't and I don't know the cause. Couldn't use my Dell 30" monitor with X1000 - gfx artifacts, screen ghosting and lines made it unusable. I switched to a much smaller 24" monitor which works well but a shame really.
I had to create custom resolution in OS4 with reboot to use the full resolution capability of my 24" screen. Can I suggest adding more standard resolutions into the monitor settings to save time?

No native OS4 virtualisation software I could find - Something like VirtualBox would at least allow emulation of common applications not on OS4 under emulated Windows or Linux virtual machines. Not sure if this is any easier than porting the applications though!
No alt-TAB to switch between applications, and applications that are running are not shown in the dock for ease of switching.

I paid to have 4Gb installed but the system apparently only sees and uses 2Gb. knowing this would have saved me some money when purchasing it..

The free SDK should be included with the system like with Mac OS X, rather than having to download it from Hyperion separately after registration.

 No Japanese or unicode language support at an OS level. This is sorely needed for me anyway and annoying when web browsing or reading documents in Japanese. No support for using USB webcams in IM programs for video calls.

No included archiver! It is necessary to download a command line archiver like zip or lha if you require it. There is an unarchiver with GUI which works ok as long as zip file size is less than 2Gb. Ideally an archiver should be included by default with context menu Add to archive function...
Timberwolf beta is much slower than OWB. So slow loading web pages I gave up using it. Needed to upgrade Timberwolf and MUI-OWB to get good web browsing experience.

Email applications in OS4 are a bit basic - YAM and SimpleMail are ok, but have a lot of
catching up to do in features like HTML support, etc. I just use Gmail in OWB directly instead for mail.

The bad things:

No Java support. No Adobe flash support. The video Driver is 2D only and doesn't use most of the overlay and 3D effects the card is capable of. Perhaps this is why HD video cannot play back well under MUI-Mplayer. I know the video driver is a work in progress and I am glad the system was released ahead of this.

Onboard audio doesn't work. Separate audio card is required to have sound. The sound ports on the front of the case don't work because they are connected to the onboard I guess. (I haven't opened the case) I really want to use my headphones with it...

eSata/USB port on the front of the case doesn't appear to work. I have plugged usb devices to it but they are not recognised, but devices work in the other two front USB ports...

YouTube doesn't work to playback content in OWB or Timberwolf.

Printing - after a brief read of what is involved in setting it up with network control and USB setups needed I gave up trying. Shouldn't be this difficult. Is there an easy way to print to a USB HP InkJet All-in-One or Brother Laser printer under OS4?

OpenGL games don't work and just crash the system when run. I know there is not OpenGL support yet but it is relevant to a user when trying games out. I believe there is a library you can copy over to fix this for some stuff called Wazp3d library - I tried it but only a few games will run with it.

An unfortunate occurance where my AmigaOS4 wouldn't boot at all after a system crash, permanently stuck in a boot fail loop. This was traced to a faulty boot file on the SYS: partition that needed to be replaced and now works.

Some information included with the system about known compatibility and workarounds for JIT older Amiga programs with X1000 would save a lot of mucking around. I realise that this is to be expected given the age of the software trying to be run on it, so I make some allowances for that of course!

Some examples of workarounds I did:
* Having to replace a kickstart class file with an older version on the internet in order for DOSbox to work on X1000.
* Having to create custom screen modes for opening non-workbench screens for common Amiga applications that use it.
* changing cg_wpa setting in MUI-Mplayer to work on X1000.
* Need to use legacy Delitracker for full Amiga module compatibility, and some config changes and setup changes needed for it to work with AHI without crashing the system
when playing songs. I documented this one on Amigaworld forums to reference for anyone else who has this problem.


I hope this review is helpful for people to know what to expect from the X1000. As I said, it is a good Amiga, it does a lot of good things and I am glad it has finally been released.

I look forward to some of the promised improvements in the video driver, OS4.2, bug fixes and more to come I am sure.

I also hope to see a genuinely cheap Amiga platform released to hook in the general public to Amigas in the future. Like the Raspberry Pi has proven it is possible for an unknown computer
to become very well known. Much better marketing is needed - we have a good product here. We still need the top end products like the X1000 too, for those who want more in a computer.

Thanks to everyone involved in the effort to get this Amiga X1000 out there, and to the beta-testers and software developers for continuing to support the Amiga. I am very grateful
to still be able to use new Amiga products in 2012 - ten years ago I didn't think it would still be going now and I am glad to be part of it still!

1 comment:

  1. Hi there Epsilon,

    I agree with you concerning the marketing of the AmigaOne X1000. I wish they'd spent more resources promoting it outside the usual forums (Amigaworld.net etc).