Picasso Blues

Update on the Picasso IV story, somewhat of a "rags to riches" tale

By Greg Noggle, Staff Writer, See staff list for e-mail address

To summarize, I couldn't use my PIV card and my dealer couldn't figure why. The problem turned out to be my Fusion Forty card not being up to specs. I liked the card a lot and you needed a accelerator to use the Picasso IV card.

My solution: I ended up getting a decent deal on an A2500 and so I used the 2030 card from that machine in my 2000. The reason why I did this is that I had already modified the motherboard for 4 AT slots for my Bridgeboard use and had a lot of other hardware in my current box already.

My observations are based on the following configurations:

I really don't have a "feel" for what various numbers such as read/write pixels, drystones etc. mean to what I see in front of me so I will relay things on how it seems from a user's view.

In my opinion this is a web cruising machine. So much so I sold the Fusion Forty card. I really don't miss the 68040 speed for most things I do. For web browsing my current machine blows the old combination away. Using a Windows machine except for the 200-MHz + 56.7-k modem ones for cruising the web is not as fast as on my Amiga. Not too bad for a 030 25-MHz based machine. For multitasking the graphics board takes such a load off the custom chips when used in combination with scheduling utilities I can multitask old AmigaBASIC programs without the intermittent "freezes" in multitasking that I had before. In writing this article I was running Miami, Final Writer, GED, and Thor, downloading newsgroups, and doing screen switches easily and quickly. FUSION is now very usable for most things; before it wasn't that usable for me. My experiences with FUSION are worth an article on their own. I can't use my Bridgeboard right now due to slot space.

Once I get an accelerator/SCSI-II combo I will put that back in and see if there are conflicts there. There is a memory concern because of 8 megs of AUTOCONFIG space that some Bridgeboard users have to be aware of when using the PIV in a Zorro II machine. The Bridgeboard needs the last two megs of AUTOCONFIG space and if you have regular 16-bit memory you would be limited to 2 megs to use the PIV in its full 4-meg mode, although there is a jumper on the card to limit the card to 2 megs. The card is still very usable in 2-meg mode; it doesn't slow down processing noticeably but when you do a lot graphics work on using the screen modes provided by the card it seems after a while to lose a little bit of the availability in swapping multiple high graphic screens (which only makes sense). Zorro II also limits the total number of colors available in comparison to Zorro III mode, but having run the card in both modes on a 2000 and a 4000 you are really only aware of it if you're looking for it. I don't do a ton of graphics work and that is usually limited to video and or web use where the extra colors are more for bragging rights than being useful in my estimation.

The software updates for the PIV come out often. The mailing list for the PIV is very active with direct support from the Picasso mode software writers and indirect support for the hardware by Village Tronic. One of the engineering types particpates in this list on his time, and is very helpful and informative.

So my overall impression for the PIV is a qualified "Buy it!", but do your research on your accelerator and other cards through the PIV mailing list, which to me gives a better quality/quicker response than the newsgroups do.

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