The Picasso IV: Continued

After getting off to an uncertain start, Greg's Picasso IV, and the people who make it, yield some answers

By Greg Noggle, Telecommunications Editor and Hardware Guru,

I had a more difficult time than normal trying to write this month. It's not that I don't have things to say, but I'm wasn't sure how to say them. So let's set the record straight first. I am not out to flame anybody. I like my Amiga, the people who use it, and the people that support it. Generally speaking I find they are a better class of people.

Now that we got that out of the way. My article on the Picasso IV opened up a can of worms. To summarize the responses so far, there are the Idiots who think the board is great and I should use it without the accelerator to appreciate what it can do for me. The reason why they're idiots is NOT that they think the board is great; what little I have seen of it looks really nice. They're idiots because in a Amiga 2000 the standard processor is a 68000 and the software says you need 020+. If you boot the system without that it will tell you so, and depending on what you do after you see the Workbench screen, it will guru right there and then. So if you're going to give me a hard time about my opinion please do a little research first. I generally try not to say anything nasty without actually having some personal experience in the subject.

I welcome comments and critiques, but I do not appreciate people telling me I am an idiot, and that they could write a better review and I should try this, especially when THIS (operating without the accelerator) on a stock 2000 DOES NOT work.

Now for the other class of people, the people who want to buy the board seeing how I couldn't use it and was looking like I couldn't get my money back. I found those responses entirely amusing and thought about doing just that.

Last but not least I got a response from Village Tronic concerning the situation. I asked for and received permission to reprint it. That follows this diatribe.

Now for what I am going to do: I am going to keep the board, and save up and buy DKB's 060 accelerator, which I have been informed works very nicely with the Picasso IV, and then I am going to review them both. This hopefully will occur at the end of the summer. This is not bad overall because the way VT is shoving out updates for the board some more bugs will be fixed in their software and probably even more features added to it.

One other tidbit: the Picasso IV works nicely as a flicker fixer in my friend's stock 4000. Too bad the stock 4000 doesn't have 3.1 installed, because then I might have been able to say more. What I can say is that it was very nice-looking on a Hi-Res NTSC screen on his 4000 without a case of eye strain.

X-MSMail-From: Olaf Barthel

Dear Greg,

I'm the de-facto project leader for the ``Picasso IV'' project at Village Tronic. Talking to the technical marketing guys and the engineers, I gathered the following information:

  1. The Fusion Forty is a big problem as its design does not follow the specifications for expansion hardware to fit into the A2000 coprocessor slot. Specifically, it does not drive the FC0..FC2 signals, as testing with a logic analyzer has revealed. The current PCI bus driver firmware on the Picasso IV relies upon these signals, which is why your card did not work in the A2000. An experimental firmware revision has been created which does not require the processor status signals but still needs to see in-house testing; while it appears to work in an A2000 we can't be sure that it is also compatible with A3000/A4000 CPU expansion hardware -- it probably won't, the signal lines are there for a purpose. All this is still being investigated at the moment, but no specific release date has been scheduled yet.
  2. While having to remove the flicker fixer board in order to use the card in A2000 is not something the engineers are happy about (it's all too easy to really cause damage to the board), it does not rank as "damaging" the card. Village Tronic *does* take back cards that have the flicker fixer board removed (provided it is included with the main board). I would expect that the dealer who sold you the card was not aware of this or was unsuccessful in contacting the sales/technical marketing people at Village Tronic.

I realize that so far your experience with the Picasso IV has not been a "happy relationship". Especially the Fusion Forty problem should have been reported by Village Tronic to your dealer, avoiding the problems you had with the card; Village Tronic has been aware of the Fusion Forty compatibility problem for about three weeks now.