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Article #39 (74 is last):
Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.product.8bit.reviews
From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Subject: SmartDOS / Operating System / commercial
Posted-By: xx004 (aa700 - Michael Current)
Reply-To: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Date: Tue Apr 21 19:41:08 1992


Reprinted from the A.C.E.C. BBS (614)-471-8559



 
 SMARTDOS
 THE PROGRAMMER'S WORKSHOP
 by John Chenoweth and Ron Bieber
 5230 Clark Avenue, Suite 19
 Lakewood, CA 90712
 24K Disk  $39.00
 
 by Robert Opitz
 
 SmartDOS is a recent addition to the
Atari disk operating system market.
It's menu driven, like Atari DOS
2.0S, and user friendly. The menu is
sensibly chosen, so that the letter
for a function is the first letter of
that function. For instance, F is the
command to format a disk, while C
will copy a file.
 
 To get a disk directory, all that's
needed is the number of the drive: 1,
2, etc. To print the directory, just
hold down the OPTION key while
pressing the numbers. Easy? Yes,
but...
 
 SmartDOS is meant to be an
improvement over Atari DOS 2.0S, and
is fully compatible with files
created by the latter. The manual
states that it's "the finest, most
friendly Disk Operating System
available for Atari computers!" It
works in single or double density, so
it can be used on many of today's
Atari-compatible disk drives. Density
switching can be done at the DOS
menu. It's also done automatically,
if necessary, whenever a disk is
accessed (even when you open a file
from BASIC). Nice touch? Yes, but...
 
 SmartDOS uses counter screens and
different color backgrounds to help
the user. The main menu is dark blue.
When doing a whole-disk copy (menu
selection W), a blue counter screen
tells you what sector is being read,
how many sectors have been read and
written, and how many were empty or
bad. When writing to the disk, the
screen turns red. Informative? Yes,
but...
 
 SmartDOS has a number of nice
features. It can look for bad
sectors, check the speed of your disk
drive, or allow up to nine autorun
files to load upon booting. It can
copy sectors, allowing you to
partially recover crashed files. It
even allows you to easily create an
autorun file that will run a BASIC
program on booting up. Impressive?
Yes, but...
 
 But what, skeptic? Well, the manual
states, "If you are familiar with
other Disk Operating Systems, you
will appreciate the power of SmartDOS
along with its elegant simplicity."
Simple, yes, but hardly elegant.
 
 As for power, sorry, but no.
SmartDOS, although nice, flashy and
friendly, seems somewhat behind the
times. Sure, it's an improvement over
Atari DOS 2.0S, but the latter has
been around, virtually unchanged, for
five years. SmartDOS would have been
a reasonable upgrade a few years ago,
but not now.
 
 One problem is that this isn't a DOS
for the future at all. While it works
with single or double density, it
won't handle double-sided drives,
8-inch drives, etc. True, I don't
have one of these, and neither do
most Atari owners. But disk drive
prices are still falling, there are
reports of new higher-density drives
coming, and competing disk operating
systems do allow this upgrade.
 
 While SmartDOS touts its
user-friendliness, this can be an
impediment at times. Take that easy
disk directory, for instance. It
can't put a directory listing into a
file, such as DIRECT.LST. (Why would
anyone want to do this? It's the only
way I know to get a directory on
drive 2 with AtariWriter.) It can't
list just the files ending in, for
example, DTA. Even Atari DOS 2.0S can
do that. And some of the friendly
menu choices had to be obscure to
fit. How about KOPY SECTORS? Or
OBVERT RESIDUP (which switches the
DUP.SYS part of SmartDOS into or out
of memory when you use a cartridge).
 
 Having seen some competing versions
of DOS, I find a number of other
things missing. These include command
files, startup files, provisions for
user-written commands,
subdirectories, an undelete command,
user-controlled directory formatting
(i.e., alphabetization, etc.), or
advanced memory management on XL
computers. No DOS has all of these
features, but most (except SmartDOS)
have some.
 
 SmartDOS does have some unique
features, such as the disk drive
speed check. But it fails to live up
to its promise as the finest DOS
available. It's priced in the same
range as competing versions of DOS,
but it gives less for your money.
Users in the market for a new DOS
would be smart to look elsewhere.
 
 Author's biography:
 
 Robert Opitz is a chemist working in
Rochester, New York. He has owned an
Atari for three years. He became
interested in microcomputers five
years ago, when he discovered word
processing while writing his thesis.
-- 
 Michael Current, Cleveland Free-Net 8-bit Atari SIGOp   -->>  go atari8  <<--
   The Cleveland Free-Net Atari SIG is the Central Atari Information Network
      Internet: currentm@carleton.edu / UUCP: ...!umn-cs!ccnfld!currentm
     BITNET: currentm%carleton.edu@{interbit} / Cleveland Free-Net: aa700





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