Post by Vyper68 on Oct 4, 2018 7:24:25 GMT
I thought I would write up a review about the M4 Card that is available from Duke over on the CPC Wiki Forum. I have had this for quite a while and it really is a amazing little bit of kit. The basic overview of the card is an interface that has a WiFi module, a MicroSD Card interface, 32 "virtual" ROM Slots, Web interface to connect using web browser from PC. It certainly packs a lot in a tiny Card.
The commands for the M4 follow the normal convention of RSX commands. So for example |DIR will give you a directory or |CD,"games" will change folder to "Games" so it's pretty straightforward. There are commands to manage the files on the microSD card, ROMs, turning the M4 off or the WiFi off and also to update the M4's firmware. The only small issue with 464's is you cannot pass the parameters directly, you need to make it a String first then pass the command to the M4, so it would be a$="games": |cd,@a$
So the card will work with both a CPC464 and a CPC6128 and also the Plus editions as well, the ability to upload ROM's via a web browser is fantastic, and with the Amstrad's 32 slots you would have a hard time filling it I think. One ability is to turn a 464 into a 6128 ( albeit without a FDC ) by uploading the 1.1 Basic and 6128 OS to the M4, reboot and you have a 6128. I have a few in mine at the moment, ParaDOS 1.2 which is an alternative to the AMSDOS disk operating system which allows you to use disk's bigger than the standard 3" limit amongst other benefits. I also have CPM+ on ROM as well which is a full implementation of CPM+ and ROM resident very handy if you don't have the System Disk's anymore for a 6128 which had the CPM software on them. There are other ROMs that can be loaded and from OS'es to Utilities and even Games, you are spoilt for choice.
The MicroSD card slot will take FAT16 and FAT32 cards and you can add files using a PC like you would normally but you can also log onto the M4 using a web browser and click-and-drag files to the page and upload them to the M4 remotely as well. You can delete files, create folders and delete folders as well. Using the files on the MicroSD on the CPC itself is equally as easy, something like games are normally stored as DSK images and accessed by treating the disk image as a folder and changing directories to go "inside" the DSK image and running the boot file, the game then loads in seconds.
There is now a Telnet client so you can get onto BB's which is something I have never really done a lot of but looks interesting. There is also a M4 version of the SymbOS 3 Multi-Tasking Operating System available which you copy to your card and run by typing RUN"sym" it boots in seconds and then you are into a windowed, multi-tasking desktop which should not be possible but it is. There is also an option to load a Cartridge image for the Plus users and activate that.
The final thing is the price, currently the are €45 delivered ( in my case the UK ). I did not need a Edge Connector-to-Mother X4 connector so that kept the price down. The M4 comes with a Right Angled IDC Header and was designed to fit a Mother X4 expansion backplane. You can ask for a adapter as well when ordering or buy one from the CPC community or feeBay. SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT - I also make and sell single Mother X4 to Edge adapters ( the real Mother X4 has 4 or 5 I think ).
So there you go, for me If you own an Amstrad you really need to get one of these and the price is excellent for what you get.