THE 64 - Computer and Handheld Console

Discussion in 'Everything else' started by Ian J, Apr 14, 2016.

  1. pmprog

    pmprog Advanced Member

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    Ah, nothing was quoted, so figured it was related to the recent posts
     
  2. vcoleiro1

    vcoleiro1 Hardcore Member

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  3. rygD

    rygD Nihilistic Mystic

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    Something something something useless keyboard.
     
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  4. Ian J

    Ian J Advanced Member

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    For a self proclaimed 8-bit guy he didn't seem to know a lot of the games, must have been more into the apple computers being in the USA

    Bit poor not having a display ready for it's arrival.

    Overall bit of a poor review.
     
  5. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    I found it a balanced review. A couple of years ago, it being HDMI out only would have been a gotcha for me too. Perhaps using a four row USB keyboard with fn-hidden F-keys was a bit of a schoolboy error, but it's probably worth pointing out for some. The audio sync being out was an interesting fault I hadn't anticipated.
     
  6. ljones

    ljones Member

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    Hello all! Well I only got my "The64 Mini" well .... yesterday and I've only had a chance to quickly look over the unit today. But I can offer a few observations. Please note though that some of this is just my opinion -- and I might also have one or two things wrong. So far I'm going to give this device about 50-50. Here's what I've noticed; again there might be mistakes from hereon in. Again please don't take what I say here as 100% defacto;

    * According to (I think) "the 8 bit guy" on youtube this device uses (writing this from memory) an Allwinner A20 CPU with 256MB ram and 256 MB flash.

    * The keyboard on the the64mini is purely cosmetic and dosen't do anything at all. For anyone who is dissaponted bear in mind the keyboard is so small that if it really did work you'd probably always be ending up hitting more than one key even if you used one finger at a time!

    * It is possible to use the the64mini with an HDMI to DVI converter (I managed to do this). But it depends on whatever the64mini is sending out; your mileage may vary.

    * The colours on my the64mini seemed to be a little 'washed-out' although that could also have been down to the screen I was using to try it out on.

    * There is apparently a system update coming for this device at the end of the month (the end of March).

    * The device seems to be *very* picky about USB keyboards. I don't have that many USB keyboards here (a grand total of 3!) and one of those is wireless. One keyboard is a wireless logitech keyboard, another is a cheapo no-brand keyboard and the last an older (but cheapo) keyboard. All three work; only the older one worked on the64mini.

    * The64mini dosen't come with a power supply. Though it uses a normal USB (5V) style power supply. A USB and HDMI cable is included.

    * You do get a joystick with The64 mini. And the joystick can be made to work with a PC! I managed to get mine to work on my PC/Linux box and with VICE. It was identified as ""hid-generic 0003:1C59:0023.000A: input,hidraw5: USB HID v1.10 Joystick [ THEC64 Joystick THEC64 Joystick ]".

    * To move around the menu system you have to use the joystick. I did try to use the keyboard but no luck - only the joystick seems to work in that respect.

    * If you want to use a usb keyboard it has to be plugged in "from cold", i.e. before you turn the system on. I tried the basic interpeter and the USB keyboard would only work with it if I had plugged it in "from cold". Starting basic and then plugging in the USB keyboard did not work.

    * Although I can't remember where I saw/heard it but I believe someone somewhere stated that if you needed more usb ports with this you *would* need a powered usb hub. I tried a non-powered USB hub with mine and it worked ok.

    * It is possible to add your own games to this device, but there's a caveat. Although it is possible to add in your own games via a D64 image and you can certianly load things off an external D64 image although you can save back onto the 64mini itself it only saves the memory of the emulated C64, not the D64 image. As others have said it is more like a "game-save".

    * I did quickly (though I did not expect this to work!) try to boot linux from a USB flash drive on the64mini (from a different device but with the same CPU, an Allwinner A20). It did not work.

    * I do not know at all - but it is just possible maybe one of the reasons (again, I must stress I have no idea) is that if this device can't boot from USB maybe it might be because it has no USB host chip? (I'm remembering the Ben nanonote here -- it too had no USB host chip - it could do things like access usb storage such as memory sticks, but no chance of doing more advanced things).

    * The underlying OS currently dosen't seem to be known - I couldn't find out any information. Some have speculated that it might be a linux-based OS, but I am not sure.

    * The menu system might alas be some awful propietary thing (a piece of retrocomputing I most definately don't welcome!). If and again I do not know for sure if that's correct I did read one message on their forums; someone asked about the menu system but the reply was that they couldn't give out any information.

    * It also isn't clear if this is some sort of emulator (such as VICE) or something else. Again some people have speculated that it could be VICE. "Retro games ltd" themselves haven't said anything so far as I'm aware.

    Now you might say why did I buy this thing? Well back when it was first annouced it was going to be a full sized computer (in the sense that it would have a full C64-style keyboard) back when it was only "just" 'THE64'. The64 mini seems to have come along at a later date however.

    Would I buy it if it were in a shop? Hmmm......if it is true that there's lots of propietary in it, probably not. Chances are you could do better with one of the alternatives - a raspberry pi and emulator might be cheaper (for example) or maybe just run an emulator on a PC. Another option would be to buy "The real mccoy" (i.e. the original hardware) but then first of all that hardware is going to be pretty old now and will possibly need some help to function and secondly, if it is coming from ebay beware people who slap things like "RARE" on something just because it is old and then proceed to ask an insane amount of money for it!

    Hopefully though I'm wrong and maybe it might just be possible to boot a linux distro off (say) a USB stick -- if vice could be made to run for real you could turn the system into not just a C64 but a VIC, PET, C128 and soforth. Though (again) if it is true that this device only has 256MB of ram and flash pretty much X and VICE might work but might it be quite a tight fit? (Bear in mind btw that the old original raspberry pi also only came with 256MB ram!).

    Anyways that is all I know some of it is guesswork and speculation.

    ljones
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
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  7. ZXDunny

    ZXDunny Deep avatar

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    Bugger that pile of crap - where is this beauty then?

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    The original Pandora also came with 256MB of RAM and could do a hell of a lot!

    Also, one thing against the original hardware in this day and age, is having to source all of the software on cassette or disc and so on. It's not great fun waiting for old code to load when you can do it in the blink of an eye on modern hardware. You could also probably pick up a small run adaptor that lets you connect a CF card or an SD card or something to an original C64, but that's probably still slower and rarely actually as cheap as modern reproductions.

    My only concern is this audio sync issue raised by that review video. Is that a VICE thing? I must admit, with the treasures of software and other emulators on the Pandora, I've actually spent precious little time in VICE (I didn't have a C64 in my youth).
     
  9. pmprog

    pmprog Advanced Member

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    Hmmm, interesting, could your older USB keyboard support the PS/2 protocol?

    That's actually pretty interesting to know, might be worth getting me a joystick if nothing else :)

    What's wrong with it being proprietary? This is designed as a consumer unit, not a hacker/developer system

    I'm not sure why you'd want to boot a Linux distro off the mini? If you're wanting a system, a Raspberry Pi 3B+ is cheaper and better
     
  10. ClockworkCoder

    ClockworkCoder Chaotic Neutral

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    I actually think it's a great little console for what it's trying to do.

    I'd prefer if it wasn't using emulation, but the games play fine, and I think the console and joystick look great, and are well presented in the box.

    The joystick does feel a bit sloppy, which is to be expected as it's not using micro-switches but it does respond well. The cable could do with being a little longer (slightly under 150cm) for use in a living room.

    Because of the metal inserts, the console has a good weight to it, and looks good and feels solid.

    The music in the menu gets irritating after a while, and I hope they allow you to switch it off in a firmware update.

    As mentioned before, multi disk games aren't really supported, and games aren't likely to work if they aren't supported in VICE.

    So, as an item of nostalgia and a bit of fun, I think it's a great choice. For more serious retro gamers then it might not offer enough to compete with real hardware or FPGA options.
     
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  11. Hellfleck

    Hellfleck Very Active Member

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    Too bad the keyboard is fake, I would have buyed it instantly otherwise even if it was not really useable

    But even if I find that case quite sexy the asking price of 80 € I saw is way to high for my taste (also still got a working C64 ...) - still tempted to scout for defective units on Ebay in a year or two though xD
     
  12. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    Has anyone taken that joystick apart yet? It seems unlikely to be a using proper microswitches given it's effectively given away for free with an inexpensive unit, but what else could it be? I could imagine it being mounted on top of rubber domes on top of a PCB, but you'd need quite a lot of plastic then resisting the stick from snapping the PCB then I suspect - using microswitches that pretty much comes for free as you need surfaces to mount the switches to.
     
  13. Hellfleck

    Hellfleck Very Active Member

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    Thats the inside of the earlier stand alone version, I somehow doubt they made big changes to the design

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. vcoleiro1

    vcoleiro1 Hardcore Member

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  15. vcoleiro1

    vcoleiro1 Hardcore Member

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  16. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    I hope that isn't VICE. I'm not particularly familiar with the C64 myself, but I did install VICE on my Pandora, and I can't see any references to lag out there via a web search. I'd have though the Allwinner A20 would be fast enough to run it if it were properly ported.
     
  17. Ian J

    Ian J Advanced Member

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    The joystick on this is getting universally slated, not seen one positive review.
     
  18. ZXDunny

    ZXDunny Deep avatar

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    If the joystick is USB, then the polling rate is likely low. I have a USB joystick (Competition Pro) that has a polling frequency of around 100ms - you can imagine what that does to games. Couple that with leaf switches rather than micro, and the stupid placement of the triangular forward buttons and it's a recipe for disaster.
     
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  19. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    I think almost all of my recent joysticks and gamepads for about 10 years now have been USB. Maybe there's a cheap USB joystick controller with a slow update that tends to get used when they're building to this price point, but I've not noticed any lag on any of my joysticks that cost upwards of about 50USD.
     
  20. Ian J

    Ian J Advanced Member

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