[Coco] Re: [Color Computer] Is this a discussion about a new Coco?
msmcdoug at optushome.com.au
Wed Apr 20 19:30:44 EDT 2005
At the risk of being caught in the crossfire, I'm going to add my (humble)
opinion to the mix...
First of all, some background. I'm a former CoCo owner who mostly lurks on
this list because I have a very keen interest in retro-computing and
retro-gaming. My time only allows me to focus on certain aspects of my hobby
and whilst I am fond of the CoCo, it's not currently my #1 interest (I'll
get back to it one day). So whilst I know a little about what's going on in
the CoCo world, I'm certainly not dabbling daily with Nitros-09 or add-on
I should also add that I'm a qualified software and hardware engineer -
though it would be fair to say that my expertise is more in software (20+
years) than hardware. However, I'm doing my best to even things up and as
luck would have it, I'm currently working on a commerical design that
incorporates the opencores IDE controller (which someone eluded to in this
thread). I've been working for a small R&D house doing contract design work
for the last 7 or so years so I know *something* about the realities of
Back to my point. IMHO both James and Mark & 'Boisy' are right.
From what I know Cloud-9 have been around for some time and are well
respected and active contributors to the CoCo hobbyist scene. They're
developing a product that is keenly awaited by many CoCo enthusiasts but
that James has decided is too expensive (and perhaps over-engineered) for
what it does.
I'm not going to offer any opinion on this myself, other than to say that,
regardless of whether or not James is technically correct, he misses the
This is not a mass consumer market. There aren't hundreds of manufacturers
producing thousands of peripherals for the CoCo. You can't go to
TomsHardware and read a review on the best value IDE controller for the
CoCo! Or drop into the local computer market and play a few vendors off
against one another to get the best price. We're talking about enthusiasts
for a machine that rightly should have disappeared from the planet a decade
ago! Enthusiasts that love playing around with an old 8-bit micro and
delight in pushing the machine to its limits - and beyond - getting it to do
things that were never dreamt of when it was conceived. Interfacing it to
hardware that was never meant to be used. Just plain cool stuff!
Now take Cloud-9. Clearly interested in the CoCo themselves. They come up
with some neat ideas for some new hardware that they believe would appeal to
a reasonably large percentage of the CoCo community. It's still a relatively
small, niche market. They're not getting paid to spend 8 hours a day on
designing CoCo hardware. I suspect to some degree that cost to manufacture
suffers at the expense of development effort and time-to-market (Mark even
admits this much!). Perhaps (and I'm speculating based on personal
experience) the design is also influenced somewhat by a combination of (i)
the proficiency of the designers, (ii) the availability of the parts, (iii)
how 'cool' the new technology is to work with and (iv) opportunity for
future enhancement based on an arguably over-engineered design. And there's
absolutely nothing wrong with that!
[Check this out <http://members.iinet.net.au/~msmcdoug/puce/index.html> if
you want to see an example of exactly what I'm talking about!]
James, OTOH, has proposed an alternate design he believes can do the job for
a fraction of the (manufacturing) cost. Again, I'm not going to offer an
opinion on that myself, other than to say I have no reason at this point to
doubt him. I will say that to me, his design is not as 'exciting'. And let's
face it, we're only in this for the fun - right!?!
I also suspect that there's more developmental effort involved in getting
his design up-and-running. More effort spent in software, perhaps. And
certainly less versatile. But I suspect perfectly able to do the job.
So I put myself in the position of a CoCo enthusiast. I know I can buy a
4-port USB hub for AUD$10. I can buy a PCI ethernet card for AUD$12. Am I
concerned that Cloud-9 want (AFAIK) >USD$300 for a CoCo IDE controller with
some flash and a few extras? Hell no! I recognise it for what it is! Yes I'm
paying a premium for the reasons I've outlined above - but this is my
*hobby* and I do it for fun and the SuperBoard or whatever it's called is -
FUN! It's great that these guys are putting so much effort into the CoCo
community and I have no qualms supporting them and the future of the CoCo.
But let's not begrudge James his opinion! I'm not privvy to his original
post but James has just as much right to state that he's not interested in
the SuperBoard, and cite his reasons. He's free to offer a counter-argument
by example. He *may* have a perfectly economically sound argument. He *may*
be wrong too. But there *will* be some CoCo enthusiasts who can see James'
point, and will agree with him.
There is no right and wrong design - just a wrong design for the wrong
person. That's why we can buy PCs and we can buy Macs (OK, so that really
*is* an example of a wrong design - just kidding!). Why we can buy Windows
or download Linux for free!
So James and Mark & 'Boisy' - there's no need to defend your respective
designs any further.
| Mark McDougall | "Electrical Engineers do it
| <http://members.optushome.com.au/msmcdoug> | with less resistance!"
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