Video playback on the X5000

Today I am going to look at video playback on the X5000 in particular to the performance of the machine in playing back DVD’s and clips streamed or downloaded from the Internet.

My previous Amigaone 500 machine based on the Sam 460 motherboard struggled a little with video playback.  Sure it could play DVD’s using the DVPlayer software that is given away with Amiga OS 4.1 but truth be told, it struggled a little when it came to clips that I downloaded from the internet.

Using the X5000 now for a few weeks, I am more than pleased with the current level of performance, if anything the tests I had to do in order to create today’s blog configuring things, served only to re-enforce my decision that upgrading my machine was the best option

DVPlayer

As mentioned previously, Amiga OS4.1 Final Edition comes with a special OEM version of DVPlayer (version 0.72 to be precise)  although this version was released back in 2009.

DVPlayer will handle playback of Video CD’s and MPEG-1 files/streams along with DVD and MPEG-2 files/streams it will also playback AVI files.

A little tip here, however before you put in the DVD and press play.   You will need to head over to OS4 Depot http://www.os4depot.net to download a couple of files to ensure that you get any sound.  The two files that you need to download are the following: A52 Library and DTS Coherent Acoustics decoder:

http://os4depot.net/index.php?function=showfile&file=audio/misc/a52_avcodec.lha

and

http://os4depot.net/index.php?function=showfile&file=audio/misc/dca_avcodec.lha

Once you have downloaded these, it is important that you create a folder in your LIBS drawer called Avcodecs and place the two libs in there as below:

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So what is performance like with DVPlayer?   Well i think i will let some videos tell the story.  You will have to excuse my holding of the camera i have used to record the images!

and here is a clip from everyone’s favourite busy body  Hyacinth Bucket!

Despite this being the oldest player out of the three i am testing, it still does a reasonable job, however it does not seem to take advantage of the hardware acceleration found on my Radeon HD 7750 card, or of the latest compositing features found on latest versions of the Amiga Radeon driver.

Sadly DVPlayer no longer appears to be in development according to their website http://dvplayer.amistore.net/index.html  and development of this product has been passed on to A-Eon who have had this product advertised for 18 months now on their Amistore with no option to buy the product as there is just a message saying coming soon.

I do hope that there is an update to this player, as it is not a bad one actually.

MPlayer

The next one I am going to look at today is MPlayer which is a port from Linux and appeared on the Amiga in about 2004. Since then it has been updated to take advantage of the latest Amiga Radeon drivers and the latest version you should download is the following from OS4 depot which is the Liveforit-Mplayerng version.

http://os4depot.net/index.php?function=showfile&file=video/play/liveforit-mplayerng.lha

To accompany this I would also recommend you download a GUI or a Graphical User Interface to go with it as configuring MPlayer can be a little tricky.  In fact having to configure the program is probably one of its most negative aspects.

The one I currently use and would recommend is the following:

http://os4depot.net/index.php?function=showfile&file=video/misc/mplayer-gui.lha

Once you have unpacked the two programmes, I have them placed in my utilities drawer of OS4.1 with a shortcut on Amidock for the MPlayer GUI programme, it is time to configure MPLayer so it works correctly.

The first thing you need to do is sort out sort out the path to MPlayer which as you can see from the screenshot below will be the non-altivec version.FastView_Capture_T170605_161028.jpg

You then need to click on the Video tab and select from the drop down list the video output compyuv2 (composition, yuv420p, direct rendering, has a thread for video output)

I also play the video in -VM mode and select a size aspect of 1920 x1080 rather than go for full screen here as sometimes, playing in fullscreen mode doesnt format correctly.FastView_Capture_T170605_161352.jpg

Finally if you want to play from DVD, it is really important on the X5000 that when you select the device you wish to play from you select custom and enter P5020sata.device.  This will ensure that your disc plays from the DVD.

FastView_Capture_T170605_161448Now in terms of options, MPlayer will support a greater number of formats and streams, it will play MP4, DivX, OGG, WMV, MOV, FLAC, XVID, Indeo, H.263 files, it will support Video CD and DVD playback too

In terms of picture quality, here are some examples of playback on the X5000 first from a DVD. You will notice there is a control panel which you can use to move forward and back as required.

and then from a file downloaded from You Tube in 720p

MPlayer is certainly the most versatile of the players available on the Amiga, however picture quality can be variable I find depending on the type of file you are trying to play back.  Playback on the X5000 is certainly a lot better than it was on my old Amigaone 500 machine, in fact there is a noticeable difference in performance here.   It is also free of charge to download which is a bonus, although it can be difficult to set up for novices.

Emotion

The final player i am going to look at today is the new kid on the block called Emotion which is a commercial effort by the guys at Entwickler-X who are famous on the Amiga OS4 scene for the rather superb games Swamp Defense 2 and M.A.C.E.

Emotion can be purchased either from Alinea Computer www.amiga-shop.net for the sum of €24.99 or from the Amistore at a price in GBP of £20.96.

Emotion is kind of based on VLC Player which is found on Windows and other formats and is designed to be as simple as possible to use and configure. In fact you actually don’t really need to configure or optimise this at all, it kind of does it itself based on the stream or video that is playing back.   The end result of this, is that on less powerful machines, it knows when to skip frames resulting in a much cleaner and much more polished playback.

It also knows depending on the graphics card that you are using, takes advantage of any hardware acceleration on the card which means that for those with me with a reasonably good graphics card in a Radeon HD 7750, the playback is superior to that found on MPlayer.

Again I prefer to let the videos do the talking here, here is that last clip played via MPlayer but this time via Emotion.  To play files on Emotion, it is just a case of dragging the file and dropping into the Emotion icon which I keep on my Amidock, although there is a set of menu’s that you can select the file from if you wish to go the long way round.

Here are a few music videos too  One Republic:

Glantis

and Sean Paul featuring Dua Lipa

It is also possible to stream videos on Emotion, which i do via my Smtube set up which is a neat program that you can use to either download or view You Tube streams.

Emotion’s main shortcoming is that it will not play DVD’s, however it should be noted that it will play the content of a DVD by selecting the applicable VOB file in the video folder when you open the DVD on your Amiga.

However in terms of performance and playback, I find Emotion to be superior to MPlayer and well worth the £21/€25 being asked for this product. The guys at Entwickler-X have worked really hard over a number of months to optimise this player and for those with less powerful Amiga OS4.1 set ups this really should be your main player.

I hope that today’s post has given you some idea of what video playback is like on the X5000 and on Amiga OS 🙂

Until next time…..

USB joypads and joysticks on the X5000

The X5000 benefits from having 6 external USB slots ready for plugging in all sorts of USB 2.0 compatible hardware from memory sticks to USB hubs to multi card readers.

The way I have my  X5000 system set up at the moment is that I always have the mouse and keyboard firmly plugged into one of the USB ports at the back of the machine.  One of the other ports I am using is currently being occupied by this rather neat looking Sandisk multi card reader:

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Another of the other ports is filled by this not too sexy looking but very functional multi-USB hub:

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Using a multi-USB hub like this allows me to plug and unplug without any further wear and tear on the existing ports, and more importantly allow me to plug and unplug any USB joypads and joysticks with ease.

Amiga OS4.1 supports USB joypads and joysticks, however one word of caution here, not all joypads and joysticks are supported. One thing you will need to make sure of, certainly from my own experience of trying out different peripherals, is that your joypad or joystick needs to support Direct Input as peripherals which support X-Input will not work.

This means sadly that the rather excellent Xbox 360 controller will not work with Amiga OS4.1 and believe me as this controller supports only X-Input.

You can often tell if a pad will support Direct Input as there will be a switch on the back of the Joypad like in the case below:

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For the purposes of today’s blog I am going to look at two pads and one joystick which will work with the X5000 and any Amiga OS4.1 machine.

The first thing you need to do however upon plugging in the pad or joystick  for the first time is to configure Amigainput which can be found in the Prefs drawer of Amiga OS4.1.

Upon opening Amigainput we are greeted with the following preferences screen:

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When inputting a joypad or a joystick it is important that we calibrate it to make sure that all the buttons work correctly and that the d-pad moves in the correct direction.

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Any 68K native games which support lowlevel.library  can be configured using the lowlibrary port. You will need to highlight the pad you wish to calibrate here along with the port which usually defaults to unit 0 and click on Assign.

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As soon you have configured your pad or joystick it is ready to work and more importantly still, your configuration will be saved  for any future occasions if you decide to plug in another pad or joystick.

Now the first pad I am going to look at is the Speedlink SL-6556-BK Xeox Pro-Analog Joypad which can be obtained from retailers such as Maplin  or Amazon  for the bargain price of £14.99

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First impressions are quite good, it obviously looks like the excellent Xbox 360 controller, so if you are a fan of this type of joypad, I would definitely recommend getting one. I find that the left hand analog stick works really well with driving games and is ideal for moving around space ships on shoot-em up style games.   The joypad is extremely light in your hands and  has a rubber like texture to it which means that it feels very comfortable in your hands for many hours of extended play without it feeling too heavy or sweaty.

The triggers which can be configured depending on the type of game being played, are also very responsive, they certainly come in handy when playing a game like Super Tux Kart where you can use the right hand trigger to accelerate and the left hand trigger to brake, similar to the controls you would find on a go-kart.

My only gripe with this type of joypad is that it is not suited to platform type games. It’s not that the D-pad is unresponsive, it isn’t, it just feels awkward to try to perform diagonal jumps at times and takes a bit of practice.

I would give this pad a good 8/10 and for the price, you certainly won’t find a better option out there.

The second pad, I am going to look at today is the Logitech F-310 which is styled a bit like a Playstation 3 pad. This pad is slightly more expensive at around £25.00 from retailers like Game or Currys/PC World.

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Now I will hold my hands up and admit that I have never owned any of the Sony Playstation machines over the years, for me Sony’s hardware has never really appealed. However I do like the feel and shape of the Playstation 3 style pads.  This version by Logitech features 17 buttons so there are more than enough options depending on what you are choosing to configure.  I find it this type of pad works best with Beat-em-up games using either the left hand analogue stick or the D pad.

The downsides of this pad become obvious when you are trying to use the the trigger buttons which I feel don’t really cut it. If I am playing say Mario Kart or F-Zero on Snes9X and I have configured the triggers an accelerators or brake, i often get the feeling that I am not pressing hard enough and somehow the plastic is stopping me from going just that little bit faster.

It’s a sold pad though, It’s very portable and certainly won’t break with heavy and repeated use.  It is slightly heavier than the Xeox pad but it certainly will not leave you feeling tired after many hours of play and button bashing.

Is this better than the Xeox pad?  Not quite, for me the Xeox gets the nod, however if you prefer the feel of a PS3 type pad, then go for this one.

Verdict 7/10

Finally the last of my reviews today covers a classic that many long time Amiga users may be familiar with which is the Speedlink SL-6603 Competition Pro USB Joystick which was released in conjunction with Individual Computers by popular demand.

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Individual computers sell this directly for around €30.00  https://icomp.de/shop-icomp/en/shop/product/competition-pro-retro.html

Apparently the original Speedlink Competition Pro was a massive hit amongst Amiga users back in the 90’s, but playing with my A600 and later A1200 machines at the time,  I preferred to use joysticks like the classic Quickshot Maverick which resembled the controllers found in a an arcade with two buttons on the side.

First impressions of the Competition Pro are that it is rather heavy and clunky.   As it comes in a square block like shape, I find you really need to grasp this joystick firmly with two hands, the right hand controlling the joystick leaving the other hand free to use one of the four buttons.  In fact if you are a left-handed, I think you may really struggle to use this joystick.

Compared to the joypads, it  also lacks buttons, which means that it is only really suited for playing classic Amiga games, or any 8-bit classic games.  As it has a set of microswitches, it also makes a reassuringly familiar clicking and clanking noise which truth be told actually gets annoying after about 2 minutes; of gameplay that and the weight of the thing which just seems to dig into your hands rather uncomfortably.

However this joystick is not totally bad once you are aware of its limitations, it actually works better than any of the other pads I have tested for platform and sports games where I find using a D-pad can be at a disadvantage.  With platform games, you actually get the satisfaction and reassurance that your character is jumping in the direction you are sending them in with a joystick.  The joystick itself comes in very handy for playing Decathlon type games where you wiggle your stick furiously side to side.

It also features an auto-fire function which is great for shoot-em ups or games like Turrican where you can run and shoot in all directions.  I find joysticks work better when you have games that need to move in circular motions compared to joypads, so this one should definitely be used when playing the classic Smash TV.

The Competition Pro USB joystick is sadly the most expensive option out of the lot with a retail price of around €30.00, which given its limitations and in comparison  to the other options I have reviewed here, does make it rather poor value for money.

Verdict 5/10

In addition to the above joypads and joystick I have reviewed, Amiga OS 4.1 supports wireless peripherals.   A good website to go and check if your peripheral is likely to work can be found at Intuitionbase.com http://www.intuitionbase.com where a handy list has already been compiled and where you can also report any which are not working for fellow users.

Until next time, have fun with your Amiga machines!!

Running classic software on the X5000

One of the main questions I get asked about my new machine and indeed any Next Generation Amiga machine (Amigaone XE, Sam 440, Sam 460/Amigaone 500, Pegasos-II or Amigaone X1000) is, does it play all my Amiga software?

The good news is that as this is an Amiga machine, not only will your classic software run, in some cases depending on the type of software you are trying to run, it will even run it in native.

You may well be asking yourself how you run your software which used to come on 3.5″ 720K DD disks?  The answer is, it’s2017 for goodness sake, do people still play music from a CD player anymore?  No they all download music or convert their existing CD’s into a digital format.    In Amiga world,  even classic Amiga users don’t use the actual disks with their machines anymore, they all run them off adf files from Gotek drives. Those who have a hard drive have converted all of their disks into adf files or run software using the excellent WHDLOAD  www.whdload.de  which takes care of all the messy downgrading of software that A1200/A4000 users had to do on occasion with a separate Re-Lo Kick disk before running their software.

Wait a minute thought, doesn’t this machine have a Power PC chip, so how can it run software designed for the original 68K processors?  The answer here lies in Petunia which is a JIT (Just In Time) emulator that sits behind the current operating system capable of running packages that do not bang the original hardware, in other words, programs that do not require the use of any of the original custom hardware chips found in classic Amiga machines like the OCS or AGA chipsets.

What this means on the X5000 is that your classic productivity software such as Wordworth or Turbocalc will run with one click from Workbench as most of the background calls will not require the original hardware chips to help it along.

Classic 68K software which is designed to run with the use of a RTG (Re-Targetable Graphics) card and external AHI based sound cards will also run on the X5000 natively, although you will need to do some tweaking of a config file or download a RTG graphics card patch.   Examples of this are the great Grand Theft Auto clone Payback which runs natively in OS4.1,  as will the excellent Foundation.

Software that requires the use of the original hardware chips like an those found in the original A500, A600 and A1200 machines ,which is about 98% of the games released,  are run via the E-UAE emulator  and RuninUAE software which is supplied with Amiga OS4.1 Final Edition.

You may well wonder what is the point of owning a machine if your classic software if it is going to be in emulation.  Well i take the view that emulators are not what they used to be and have come on in leaps and bounds since the early days of UAE which was given the rather cruel acronym of “Unusable Amiga Emulator”.  Modern day emulators work that well in my view that it is often difficult to tell the difference.

Thanks to the RuninUAE software that is found with AmigaOS4.1, running your classic games has never been easier, in fact there is no configuration to do, if you wish to run the vast bulk of games because it is has already been done for you.  The end result is a program which runs straight off Workbench which i will show for you now.

Below is my Workbench which I have now managed to tailor to my taste.  For those of you interested in my background, it is actually an animated one which can be found on the CANDI programme found either on the Enhancer Software that comes with the machine.

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I open up my Games folder where you can see that I have split this down into classic games, AGA games, OS4 native games and emulators.

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I look for one of my favourite games on the Amiga Pang which is a brilliant conversion made by Ocean back in 1991.

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I actually have WHDLOAD installed on this machine for which i brought across my key file from my original A1200 machine along with the original files.

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It is then just a case of clicking on the game icon as you would do on a classic A1200 set up and then workbench enters what i like to call classic mode, or E-UAE.  It does it however in a way that you don’t need to configure anything.

IMG_20170531_090759412_HDRAnd the game loads as it will have done had you been using an A1200.

IMG_20170531_090820846_HDRTo get back to Workbench and OS4.1  you just need to hold down the CTRL+ALT+Q keys in that order.

You can if needed tweak the settings within RunInUAE, for example here you can adjust the screen resolution if you monitor supports it, however in reality these settings are intended for much less powerful machines like the Sam 440/460 machines and in relality on the X5000 you will not need to touch these settings aside from to select the joystick port.

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On my previous Sam460/Amigaone500 machine it was commonplace that i set the frameskip to 2, 3 or sometimes even 4 to make games run quicker but here I am glad to report that the X5000 is more than powerful enough that I do not even need to touch the settings.

Games like R-Type 2 and Lotus III which suffered from stuttering sound on the Sam 460, run with no issues on the X5000,  AGA emulation too works a lot better, games like Alien Breed 3D 2 and Slam Tilt work really well

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Hopefully this has given you an overview as to how classic Amiga software runs on the X5000.www.whdload.de

Welcome to my blog on the Amigaone X5000

Welcome to my blog on the Amigaone X5000

Hello and a warm welcome to my blog which will about my adventures with my brand new Amiga machine, the Amigaone X5000.

Wait a minute, did you say new Amiga machine, in 2017?  Well yes the Amiga is still around in 2017 thanks in large to the never say die attitude of its fanatical users and we even have new hardware to run our systems along with the latest edition of the operating system Amiga OS4.1 Final Edition which currently sits on update 1 as of December 2016.

Luckily for me, I have just become the owner of an Amigaone X5000 machine which is manufactured by the British based company A-Eon Technology.   http://www.a-eon.com/

The X5000 is actually a follow-up to their previously released Amigaone X1000 machine which was released in 2010 and sold in limited quantities of around 1,000 units in total.  Encouraged by the limited success of the initial machine, A-Eon have set about releasing a number of new machines with the hope of encouraging more users over to Amiga OS4.1.

The X5000 is the top end Amiga machine at the moment, and is aimed at the power user, although A-Eon plan to release a much cheaper lower end version codenamed the Tabor or A-1222 a little later this year.

The X5000 hardware specs are as follows:

Cyrus Motherboard specification – AmigaOne X5000

● Freescale P5020, 2.0GHz,64-bit, dual-core PowerPC CPU
● 2x DDR3 RAM slots (max 16Gb RAM)
● 8x USB 2.0 (6 external, 2 internal)
● 1x Gigabit Ethernet
● 1x PCIe x16 slot (Gen2 x4)
● 1x PCIe x4 slot (Gen2 x4)
● 2x PCIe x1 slot (Gen2 x1)
● 1x Xorro/Xorro (enhanced) PCIe x1 slot
● 2x PCI legacy slots
● 2x SATA 2.0 connectors
● 1x Xena/Xorro (enhanced)
● 1x RS232 serial interface
● 1x MicroSD connector and card
● 1x Boot Firmware on MicroSD card
● JTAG connector
● AmigaOS 4.1 beta for Cyrus Plus
● ATX form factor

My board was delivered by the ever reliable Amigakit  http://www.amigakit.co.uk who are the main distributors of the X5000  in the UK and at present it is possible to buy either the motherboard on its own for a retail price of £1,440.00 inc VAT  or a complete system including 2GB Ram, 1TB hard disk drive and Radeon R7 250 graphics card for £1,699 inc VAT.

Although the motherboard and full complete machines have been available from retailers worldwide since November 2016,  i decided to  save a little money and buy the motherboard plus the other components on their own, as well as take the opportunity to build a system from scratch which is something I had never attempted before.

I also took the decision to re-cycle my existing graphics and sound cards along with the SSD drive from my Amigaone 500 machine  (another next generation Amiga machine from Italian firm Acube Systems that i purchased about 3 years ago.)   So my X5000 system was being built with a Radeon HD 7750 card, 120GB SSD drive and an Envy-24 HT sound card.

One of the most interesting features of the X5000 motherboard which is code-named Cyrus+ is that on the reverse of the motherboard it features the names of all the Beta-testers along with the signatures of the architects at Ultra Varisys who manufactured this board.  The board also has etched on the reverse  “in memory of Jay Miner” who many regard as the ultimate Godfather of the Amiga, which i think is a nice touch.

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I am housing my X5000 motherboard in a Fractal Design 3300 core case which you can see a picture of below:

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Installation of the various components is quite PC like really and compared to my Amigaone 500 machine and the Sam460cr board this is based on, i am pleased to report that there is plenty of space and ventilation between the various slots as one of my old Amigaone500 machine was the lack of space in between slots and my graphics card was practically touching the SATA card.

As the current on board network driver is not yet supported, I have had to place in a RTL-8139 network card which came with the motherboard but as you can see plenty of room inside.

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Here you can see the rear of the machine with all the components in their slots.

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Once all the components are in, its time to switch on the machine and check that it all works and I am pleased to announce that it did and the first thing you are greeted with upon switch on is the A-Eon splash screen.

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Next bit is the early control set up screen that you are greeted with.  The motherboard came with a copy of AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition on a USB stick that you can use to install on to the motherboard.    You can do one of two things here, either insert the USB stick into one of the ports and go to the command line option and enter  usb reset ; boota to start installing Amiga OS4.1  or you can register your copy at http://www.hyperion-entertainment.biz with the supplied registration card,  burn an ISO on a PC/Mac or another Amiga and pop the CD into the Amiga. Then is is just a case of pressing start AmigaOS for it to load from the CD.

IMG_20170512_173156060.jpgOnce installation of AmigaOS is complete which should take no more than about 2-3 minutes,  a quick re-set of the machine is needed, et voila,  Amiga OS4.1 Final Edition is installed on your machine.

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The next step is now transferring the many games and pieces of classic Amiga software on to my new machine and configuring it to my taste, but for now I have a fully working Amigaone X5000.