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Hall of the Amigas
Determined to find an A4000, I moved further back into the Commodore display area, and realized that I was in a corridor that led to another room. Lining the walls were TVs showing the latest Amiga television ad, featuring "better graphics," "better music," and scenes from the game Out of this World interposed with shots of a cyborg kinda guy hunting down a kid who is sitting in his room playing the game. Predictably, as the guy smashes through the door, the kid zaps some heavies in the video game, and the cyborg dude disintegrates. Still, it was a slick, powerful ad, closing with the slogan "Over 3000 titles," and asking "Have you got what it takes?"

Between the televisions were big posters, also highlighting the Amiga's strengths: "Better Graphics," "Better Music," "More Games, over 3000 titles," and "Amiga 1200, 16.8 million colours." Coming down the corridor from wherever I was going were lots of happy people, most of them holding big boxes marked "A1200" under their arms. I don't know why they were smiling so much.

When I got into the next room, I saw that it was another full-size convention hall, much like the other one. The difference here, of course, was the fact that this was the Amiga room. Companies like GVP and Digita had booths here, along with about 67 million different mail-order houses. Stacked floor to ceiling in most of the sales outfit booths were more of those funny boxes marked "A1200." Attached to them were signs with prices around £359-399. This was for a basic machine with 2Mb RAM and a single, 880K floppy. By contrast, I had just paid about £299 for my 1Mb, single-floppy A600, and about £40 for another 1Mb of RAM.

By the end of the day, the stacks and stacks of A1200 boxes were gone, all carried away by smiling British people. I learned that over 2000 machines had been sold the day before, and that they had to re-supply the show for the day I was there. Naturally, I was happy to see Commodore get something so amazingly right. Of course, their timing could still use a little help.

Commodore's booth
To console myself, I found my way to the Commodore booth in this room, knowing that I'd find an A4000 there. Squeezing my way in, I found an A4000 running a killer slide show under Scala MM200. This slide show looked for all the world like a Toaster-based presentation, with the high-quality pictures and the flashy transitions between screens. "NewTek who?" Waiting impatiently, I watched the Commodore gent load up a morphing animation, where Ronald McDonald turns into a Big Mac and back. Nice, of course, but an anticlimax to say the least. Still, from the little I saw, the AA chipset's display is practically photo-real, and once it's used properly 24-bit displays should be put to shame by real-time animations in HAM8.

The show's A4000 exhibition was really kind of a disappointment, since there were only two 4000s, both hooked to 1084 monitors and running only Scala, and both under close guard from the nasty general public by tweed-clothed Commodore reps.

But there is definitely one lasting impression that these machines made on me: these are Amigas, only more so. Looking at the screen, the heritage is clear.
Needless to say, this "serious" booth was seriously influenced by marketing people from Commodore U.S. Not a good thing. I did see, however, two A3000s with GVP IV24 cards. One was hooked to a killer 19-inch color monitor, running a Madonna video in a 24-bit full-motion, picture-in-picture window on the Workbench. Bad video, very nice video system.

The only other real wonder in the Commodore booth was hidden inside the A4000 which was continuously morphing Ronald to a burger and back. Thankfully, the Commodore rep stopped Scala long enough to demo SunRize's AD012 card with its Studio 16 software. The sound was nice, but it's odd listening to CD-quality sound from a computer; it's hard to be too impressed when I listen to CDs every day. What did impress me were the real-time effects produced by the Studio 16 software. Echo, flange, etc., all came out sounding convincingly studio-quality. Still, I had an odd urge to slap the Commodore rep over the head for grinning so smugly about a 12-bit sound card, when his A4000 should have had built-in 16-bit sound. Oh, well.

My impressions of the AA chipset are difficult to sort out, mainly because I wanted to see the non-interlaced VGA-style display modes that the feeble 1084s at the show couldn't reproduce.

But there is definitely one lasting impression that these machines made on me: these are Amigas, only more so. Looking at the screen, the heritage is clear. There's more color, more speed, and more detail, but that same fluid motion, those same bright highlights and subtle shades, and that same multiprocessing magic is undeniably Amiga. And now that I've seen the new machines, though we can all breathe a sigh of relief that they're finally here, I've got to say that it's sure been a long time coming.