SD2IEC - The Future was 8bit in an SD for the C64! ( Hardware Review )


You may remember we did our very first C64 review for the UCassette and then moved onto a lovely SD device, the SD2IEC. Well today thanks to The Future was 8bit we are now going to feature a rather special SD2IEC device which enables you to play games on an SD. Also included is an Epyx Fastload Reloaded cart which improves loading time by many factors that will not only impress but may get C64 users rushing to the buy now button. Thanks to The Future was 8bit who has kindly sent us these great products for review, we will be able to delve into the usage of hundreds of classic C64 games without the fuss of the cassette issues all on an SD device at much faster speeds.

Moving on to the delivery package, unlike the first SD2IEC that we reviewed which contained all the components and a dvd package, the product I received today had an easy to connect SD2IEC, a Fastload Cart, a set of instructions and a preloaded 4GB SD card ready to go. Although the ScitechSuppliesLTD SD2IEC had a more modern look, I must admit I do prefer the design of the The Future was 8bit SD2IEC I received today, it looked as if it originally came with the C64, especially as the limited edition I was sent was made out of recycled C64 plastic.

According to the creator, the limited edition is just one of many SD2IEC's available to buy, each one in different colours and even a clear design.


The second product that was sent to us that is also available to buy, is the Epyx Fastload Reloaded cart. Originally based upon the Epyx Fastload Cartridge. This uniquely designed device has a reset button and a custom ROM, which when combined with a C64 in the back of a cartridge slot, can increase the loading speeds of games by many times over. For example a game might take 10 mins on a tape, 5mins or less through SD disk loading speeds or almost instant (File Demos) with a Fastload Cart. Just plug it in and GO! Commodore Key and Run/Stop to boot from SD2IEC or Disk. You don't even need to do a Load"*",8, simples!


Next up it's time to attach the devices to a C64 and thankfully my later model C64 was happy to accept. As to do a comparison I have plugged in both devices separately in each screen so you can see for yourself which one you would prefer.

1) SD2IEC ( Future was 8 bit )

2) SD2IEC ( ScitechSuppliesLTD )

The design and quality of The Future was 8 bit device is very impressive indeed, it looks as if it would blend in with the original bread bin C64, plus the wires are very cleanly placed. The first SD2IEC was also very durable and I'd have no concerns about taking it on a long journey to show a friend. However the second SD2IEC I would be worried about damaging the components, breaking the ribbons, or causing static. Saying that though the second SD2IEC does have one up on the other! Unlike The future was 8 bit, with Scitech's you can place another device into the back of one of the power connectors. So for example if I wanted to plug a UCassette in as well as the SD2IEC I couldn't with Future was 8 bit's.

Now that's out of the way it's time to look at the provided SD card, now this did make me chuckle as the designer has placed the image of an original C64 floppy sticker on top as to make it look like a floppy. Plus the provided SD card has many many original games all categorized, although this came with my press build device, it is purchasable through the main shop. I'd highly recommend buying the SD when you buy an SD2IEC from Future was 8 bit, as it would save any hassle of doing the copying and formatting yourself. The files are provided on the website if you want to use your own SD.

Just to note, you will need at some point to use the SD card on your PC to copy over music demo's and homebrew games such as the incredible Commando Arcade.


Finally we move onto the loading and game playing! I attached all the devices including the SD card which actually makes a click sound when you push inside, which I would've liked from the other device. With the usual command of LOAD”*”,8<ENTER> RUN<ENTER> the file browser loaded up and as per usual, games can be scrolled through by using the joystick and clicking on one of the main files get's the game to load.


But this is when I ran into a problem, I had noticed that game loading was no quicker than it was before, yet the Epyx Fastload cart was attached. Reading the instructions, apparently it's supposed to say Fastload when the C64 is booted up and you just type GO! Commodore Key and Run/Stop to boot from SD2IEC or Disk. But it just wasn't happening, something was wrong as it kept on trying to load tapes or come up with an error.

At first I wondered if it was a problem with the cart, so I took it out and put it back in a number of times and it still would not work. So through a use of force I pushed and pushed and every so often it would inch further in until finally on a reboot, the C64 said fastload. Now I'm not sure if it was the fault of my C64 or the cart as I had to use such force I was scared of breaking the slot. To tell you the truth, It's so tight now I can't take it back out... Oh well at least it works and boy does it work!


Games loaded very quickly, I was most impressed. Games that took mins loaded up in seconds, it was as if my C64 had a new lease of life or a hardware accelerator. What was even more impressive was the fact that homebrew demos were instant! Never have I seen such speeds from an 8bit machine before, all thanks to an SD2IEC and Epyx Fastload Reloaded Cart.


So it comes down to this, which one do I prefer, which one would I recommend you to buy?

For those of you who want a cheap SD2IEC and able to use other adapters in the back of the power connectors I'd recommend buying the ScitechSuppliesLTD. But for those of you want a clean no wire mess quality product at a higher price that looks as if it was meant for a C64, that has both the durability and class then go for the Future is 8bit SD2IEC. Whichever device you buy, if you don't have an Epyx Fastload Reloaded cart to go with it, you are seriously missing out.

Connector options:

  • C16/Plus4 – PS/2 style cassette connector – C16/Plus4 Only
  • Vic/64/128 – Flat cassette connector – Vic20/64/64c/128/128D rear cassette port
  • C16/Plus4/Vic/64/128 – PS/2 and Flat cassette connectors - Vic20/64/64c/128/128d(r)/C16/Plus4
  • Userport Powered – Userport connector - Vic20/64/64c/SX64/128/128d/Plus4
  • Userport Powered + C16 – Userport and PS/2 style connector - Vic20/64/64c/SX64/128/128d/Plus4/C16
  • USB Powered – Externally powered, but you’ll need to supply your own PSU. 4.5v-6v 150ma 2.1mm DC plug centre positive – Includes 2.1mm/USB Converter

Available to buy from the shop website http://www.sd2iec.co.uk/catalog/c1_p1.html  or www.sd2iec.co.uk or http://www.sd2iec.co.uk/id4.html

Ebay at a higher cost http://stores.ebay.co.uk/The-Future-was-8bit

Prices currently start at £39.99 for the clear cased version. C64 Beige/C64c Cream/SX64 Grey and C16 Smoked are all currently on sale @ 41.99.

The limited edition unit is on sale at £44.99 – All version 2.11 PCB’s.

An “internal fit” version based upon the 1.2x is available for 29.99.

Epyx Fastload Reloaded  : £17.99-18.99

Worldwide postage £3.50

You may also want to check out the C64p, which is a C64DTV based laptop that looks like the real deal http://www.sd2iec.co.uk/id9.html Always very popular. Final batch nearly completed.

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2 comments:

  1. Yes! Thats the sd2iec that I have and I love it! I use it in conjunction with my original epyx fastload and it is incredible what a speed difference games load at.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Brilliant trothmaster :)


    It's now faster than my Amstrad and HxC, which I didn't think was possible, how wrong I was ;)

    ReplyDelete

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