For all speedy Gonzales amongst us MGT have started shipping the 3.5" Sam disk drives. We got Franco Frey to give us the low-down...
True, the Sam Coupe can speed up cassette loading and saving times to the very limits of your audio cassette recorder — thanks to its variable writing and reading speed (certainly a lot faster than the Spectrum) — but unfortunately normal audio tape recorders are simply not designed for high speed digital data rates and what’s more, do not provide random access to your data storage. So if you’re fed up with the obligatory save-wait-yawn load-wait-yawn cycle, or if you’re into serious computing (what an earth are you doing reading CRASH!), get hold of the Sam disk drive for time-warp action.
SAMDos, the disk operating system on the Coupe, is a pretty nifty piece of software which doesn’t hang about, and provides impressive storage capacity. A disk will provide all of 780K storage (compare that with your archetypal 48K Spectrum game) and compares favourably with the big blue brother IBM 3.5" standard of 720K (double density). SAMDos organises the data in 512K sectors and 80 tracks. Disciple and Plus D owners will be pleased to know they don’t have to throw away their old disks in despair: SAMDos reads them, but cannot write to them. Programmers will find the usual disk commands including such goodies as wildcard, command route and autoload support. Advanced users will be pleased about sector reading and writing, but programmers will delight at the SNAPSHOT file creation, which allows the transfer of programs from cassette to disk. It’s limited to 48K Spectrum software and works like this: First you boot the Coupe drive, then you load the Spectrum cassette with a LOAD "T:filename" command. Pressing the Coupe’s BREAK button will halt the program and allow you either to save the current screen or the whole program to disk. End of the cassette struggle. In future all you do is load the program from disk with a normal disk load instruction within seconds, not minutes!
If all this means anything to you, start saving up for the SAM drive, it’s a reasonable £89.95, and you don’t hove to be a hexa-dextrous person to fit the unit into the computer: unclip the drive slot cover, insert the drive into the recess, press it home until the connection is fully made and secure it with two screws, voila! A piece of cake...
This had better mean a pay rise! Another letters column especially for SAM Coupe owners — it’s just one of CRASH’s contributions to support the new micro and its users. I want to hear everything about that new computer in your life — so drop me a line, the address is: NEWSFIELD, SAM FORUM, CRASH.
I’ve recently bought a Coupe and on the whole I am very pleased.
Let me first point out the one bad thing: the Spectrum compatibility tape included with the computer. Please readers, if you’re thinking about buying a Coupe to ‘improve’ or ‘modernize’ your Spectrum software then you’ve got it quite wrong.
The Coupe runs less than half your software, sad, but true. To load a Spectrum game you must first load a utility which changes Spectrum code to SAM format and this does not as MGT say make your software collection about ‘90%’ compatible; for example out of the many games that I tried to load only the following worked: Strider 48K, Ghouls and Ghosts 48K, Joe Blade 3 48K, Robocop 48K, LED Storm 48K.
The COUPE won’t run 128K software at all. The following games would not work: Chase HQ 48K, Batman the Movie 48K, Dizzy 3 48K, Olli and Lisa 3 48K, Spooked 48K.
Anyway, as far as I know MGT are bringing out a second Spectrum
compatibility cassette which allows about 75% of software to run, and all
Ocean software (yeah! Batman, Chase HQ etc). So to all
software houses: from now on when you bring out a Spectrum game, please try and
make it Coupe compatible or you will disappoint the many Coupe owners.
Complete compatibility is a problem at the moment, though as you
say MGT are working on it — and we’ve heard rumours of the
development of a 128K emulator. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait
More of the new ‘Sam Coupe’ screens please. I was reading issue 71 and I was thinking ‘Eee by gum. Why doesn’t CRASH do a section on Sam Screens?’ If this letter is printed and you decide to make the section, I will promise to spread the word about the Coupe, CRASH, coupe screens, etc.
Good deal eh?
Indeed — as the Flash! package is really the only
piece of Coupe software around, let’s see what new users can do with it.
Send your artistic creations to the usual address marking the envelope SAM
SCREENS — we’ll print the best ones (and try and get some prizes
Here is a list of some software I’ve successfully loaded on the SAM Coupe: Savage — Firebird, Rebelstar I & II — Firebird, Marauder — Hewson, Earthlight — Firebird, The Sentinel — Firebird, Feud — Bulldog, Hyperbowl — Mastertronic, Blasteroids — Imageworks, Ace — Cascade, Commando — Elite, Laser Squad — Blade (LOAD title screen, BREAK, LOAD CODE. RANDOMIZE USR 24104), Turbo Esprit — Durell, Spherical — Rainbow Arts, Brainstorm — Firebird, Arcade Flight Sim — CodeMasters, Rally Sim — Zeppelin, Draconus — Zeppelin, PSI Chess — Micro.
Someone in Stockport
Any more compatible games? Do let us know!
I must write and let you know the problems we’ve been having whilst trying to purchase a SAM Coupe for our 13 year old for Christmas 1989.
Many telephone calls have been made to Swansea and Harlow and many promises of delivery dates to Harlow Computers have come and gone. (I would just like to add this search began in October 1989).
I would like to know if there is anyone in the British Isles who has sucessfully purchased a SAM Coupe and if so where did they get it?
Tim is still waiting for his Christmas pressy, and quite honestly at this rate I don’t think he’ll have it before Christmas 1991.
E R Broom (Mum)
Oh dear! Coupes should now be happily trundling into the shops without any difficulty. But if you’re still having problems, why not order one from MGT direct?