Education and gamingHardware

Real Amiga or Emulated Amiga?

Amiga A600

The Amigas no spring chicken anymore 🙁

Its hard not to use a term like not a spring chicken now with the Amiga its aging very quickly now and its age means they are becoming not only harder to find as retro hunters are now snapping them up with a even the likes of  the A600(I personally own a A600 and had access to one as a kid costing upwards of £60-£100) and the high end A1200 being anywhere from £150-400+ add to this they are aslo becoming more and more brittle and delicate as the plastic degrades and both new reproduction and old stock parts prices continue to rocket now there getting harder to find.

So this raises the question real amiga or emulated Amiga? of course you can track down the likes of a amiga x1000 these use hyperions released amiga os 4.1 and are horrendously expensive due to the parts used but sorry to say it just does not feel very amiga to me and more alternative os pc.

Emulation 

Emulation is always going to draw controversy and all that but I actually think Amiga emulation is a great way to keep the amiga alive and accessible considering the above and with Cloantos amiga forever software with the legally licensed kick start roms that they obtained in a deal some time ago included for not that much money around £10 with a premium version for about £30 with all of it based on its own custom player with the highly successful amiga emulator Winuae
 
With that its already pretty good but emulation does have some other advantages over a real amiga now I am not going to cover all of them here but a short selection of them and also cover the disadvantages that i can see with them 

Disk Jams & Stuck Floppy Disk

a common 3.5in floppy disk problem when the thin metal cover used to protect the data disc when not being read got bent accidentally and then caught inside the drive housing usually destroying or damaging the disk and risking drive damage if you yanked it back out as the metal cover could get stuck in the drive resulting in tweezers being needed to get it out thats obviously no longer a problem with emulation.

– heavy reduction of the common red flashing Guru Mediation error this happened of course when a game crashed or would not load a common issue on amigas trying to run kickstart 1.3 based disks on a kickstart 2.0 rom system (see my next advantage which covers relokick)

– No More ReloKicking


the Amiga had the problem when the kickstart roms were upgraded to version 2 and workench 2.0 was released software compatability became an issue and stuff stopped working and led to alot of Guru Mediation errors which annoyed alot of people so amiga released the relokick tool disk which allowed the amiga to downgrade to kickstart 1.3 temporarily (even had relokick with the family A600 was shipped with a 2.0 rom my current one however has been upgraded to a 3.0 rom) and allowed older content to load so in someways the amiga started the craze we have now of downgrading consoles usually for illegitmate reasons.

Thankfully emulation does not need relokick and most emulators intelligently figure out games and apps need to run and then adapts to it.  

Magnets


You have probably seen warnings on floppy games and there boxes never to leave a magnet near them as it can damage the data on them this is another area that emulation has an advantage compared to real floppies with a modern ssd hard drives its impossible as they are solid state and there is nothing to wipe and even then they have data protection software built into them even modern traditional hard drives are super hard to wipe with a magnet it would take a very strong magnet to wipe a hdd i am not talking a Wilde e coyote acme or MRI sized magnet here but it would have to be strong to do any  real damage 

Turbo Speed

With the advantages of modern SSDs from big names like Intel and its CPUs like its Core I7s for example being capable of packing in between 4 to 3 cores at 5+ GHZ it cant be any easier with the likes of Winuae to massively increase the reading speed of the adf files hundreds of % with a few clicks road runner eat your heart out! sadly the real computer will never be able to achieve the same capability even with a accelerator card due to hardware limitations.

Disadvantages

This was honestly quite challenging as  I could not find a massive amount of disadvantages to amiga Emulation but I did find a few alot less than advantages though. 

Wipe Out

Now while SSDS cannot be wiped or damaged by magnets due to a lack of mechanical parts SSDs use an older style of Ram in this case sram as its cheaper than dram which can be written to infinite times while sram cannot and therefore SSDs can fail in alot of cases spectacularly destroying all the contents with it as the chips burn out so backups are a good idea if you are on a ssd drive yes I did say they are good for getting speed and performance up and they are getting better but the failure rate is still a negative until the drives switch to dram then they will be virtually indestructible.

A basic understanding

This issue some May say is not an issue but it sort of is especially in emulation if you just grab the free version of Winuae which requires a basic understanding to setup and even though there are guides and tutorials on everything from booting a adf file to creating WHDload installs there are people that dont want to bother with reading or watching videos because for example A. They cant be bothered with it. B. They cant Read or understand them C. They dont like reading or watching videos. 

these are just examples and there is probably more reasons but when it comes to emulation of the Amiga whether its Amiga forever or from scratch with Winuae FS-UAE you likely still going to need to configure something to get the game right most likely controllers. 

Real Amiga 

So with Emulation looked at lets take a look at the real amiga and I am not joking this was hard I love the Amiga I really do but to find Advantages over Emulation was really really hard as everytime I came up with a advantage it had the Emulation side just outdid it so this is going to be really short but I will of course give a conclusion after this

Quick Boot no configuration 

No Fuss no muss is something I still love about the real amiga loading exe files no running bat files nothing so booting a game from the real amiga is still a treat and while emulation can emulate the sounds from the floppy drive reading disks nothing beats a real Amigas Floppy drive loading sound outside a IBM compatibles of the time and they were expensive and for those that dont want to spend time configuring the likes of winuae and the like just chucking the disk in and then the game loading is nice and you dont have to mess around with workbench and the like if you dont want to.

Amazing Keyboard

While commodore did skip some quality aspects on some later Amigas its keyboard was not one of them it is just superb and it and the one from my childhood took some hammer 

and did not once fall to pieces or need new keys it just took it all and kept going talk about build quality being pretty good in those days but then again the amiga did need all the good build quality it could get considering it was not was exactly a budget machine with the amiga A600 for example releasing in the uk for £399.00 today thats not unusual with that being a pretty standard price point but back then it was alot of money and Emulation will never quite have the same feeling.

Accelerator card

The Amiga has one advantage over emulation in this respect it was much easier to install and use 3rd party accelerators with most being installed under the Amigas trapdoor while with emulation its harder to emulate these accelerators partly due to a lack of knowing how they work but more the software is getting harder to track down with requests being made on the winuae site to anyone who has the cards to help the development in emulating them.

Disadvantages 

And the disadvantages are alot and some of them I mention in the Emulation section which is why I am not mentioning them again here and that really brings me to my conclusions

Conclusion

Writing this I had to put my personal thoughts about copyright debates and the like aside I will always be a Amiga fan and there is times I would take my real 20+ year old Amiga over my PI Retropie Amiberry Emulator or pc Emulator Amiga any day just having the real machine clicking away and to relive the games on authentic hardware with or without a gotek floppy emulator on paper its hard not to see where the emulators are better now but I stand by my comments at the start of this piece

but I actually think Amiga emulation is a great way to keep the amiga alive and accessible and so I will never ever favor one option over the other and that is my thoughts. 

Until next time 

Tim

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