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Thread: Best console technical spec design for its time?

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    Default Best console technical spec design for its time?

    Which console balanced strong technical specs (computing power, the right type of media, etc) with affordability the best?

    I know that technically the PS4/Xbox One have the best technical specs ever, but for their time? Doubtful. The 3DO blew away the competition (the Sega Genesis / SNES primarily) but at 700 bucks, it was way too expensive for most gamers.

    Hereís some contenders:

    Sega Master System. The NES won because of games, but the Master System hardware was more capable at about the same price as the NES. Itís not a massive difference, some of the later NES games ended up looking better than anything the Master System has to offer because more sales = more games = more programmers learning how to make better and better games. But out of the box, the Master System offered more horsepower, more capacious carts, and you could get one t the same price as the NES.

    The 16-bit gen winner is the SNES. The Genesis was well designed enough, the Turbo Grafx 16 was underpowered, and the Neo Geo was great but massively expensive. The SNES offered more power to make the popular games of the time usually look and sound better on SNES. Not only that, but the SNES was designed to work easily with enhancement chips. This thing could even run DOOM! One of the best console technical designs of all time.

    Nintendo would win the 32/64-bit gen too but the N64 has a major hamper: cartridges. It makes it more reliable today, but in the late 1990s it hampered developers looking to put long, rich experiences in their games. Why make an RPG on N64 when PlayStation gives you a lot more space? The Saturn did use CDís, but it was a 2D prioritizing system in the 3D era, and was more expensive and harder to program for. That leaves us with the PlayStation, which wins this generation by a wide margin. Good 3D capability + an affordable price + CD + easy to program for = a real winner.

    The next gen Iím going with Xbox. It had a lot of power and a built in hard drive - no memory cards required!

    Overall, Iím going with SNES. That thing was a beast for the early-mid 90s, an affordable beast with tons of potential for good games (and a ton of good games). While I personally prefer the Genesis library by a small margin, itís a matter of taste. PS1 was also great in terms of offering the right specs for the time.

    And note that these arenít always the consoles that sold the most of their generation. Those consoles always have at least good technical specs though.
    Real collectors drive Hondas, Toyotas, Chevys, Fords, etc... not Rolls Royces.

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    NES games surpassing Master System on a technical level wasn't just a matter of developers getting better but also because NES carts were using a lot of chips to enhance the games as well.

    The N64 using cartridges didn't really affect the length or complexity of its games. Look at how many cartridge games prior to the N64 that take dozens and dozens of hours to complete. Easily as long as the average length of a PS1 RPG. The extra space on PS1 discs was usually used on things like FMV, prerendered backgrounds, redbook audio, and other things that don't really contribute to the length of a game or complexity. The Dragon Warrior games on NES can take a long time to beat, and they're a tiny fraction of the size of any 5th gen game. But I do agree that PS1 was the best balance of power and price for its gen. The N64 wasn't particularly expensive, but I believe the PS1 was the same price or cheaper when the N64 launched, and if one was buying games at full MSRP, $60 for each N64 game adds up versus $40 for the average PS1 game.
    Last edited by Aussie2B; 02-21-2020 at 10:34 AM.

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    pfft 32X and SNES had better looking 3D games than 3D0 or Jaguar I swear.

    It's Neo Geo's hands down. Full arcade games that were absolute arcade-perfect versions. Not even ports, it was literally just the arcade game itself in a console smaller than an Atari 5200. You could even take the arcade cart and put it in your home console in 1991. That is unreal. Imagine If you could do that with Genesis or if Pac-Man was the actual arcade version in every way on Atari 2600. Crysis running fully on 360 in 2007 without any compromise. It was just unheard of. Expensive? ye sbut still amazing to think about. 1991! Same year as SNES! It would be like going from Wii to PS3 or something.



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    Another benefit of the PS1 being disc based is it being usable as a CD player, back when it came out CDs weren't as common compared to cassette tapes so that would have been quite beneficial.

    The PS2 was usable as a DVD player which I consider a very good selling feature, that way you didn't need to buy an additional DVD player and they were quite expensive at the time. With the Xbox did it play DVDs right out of the box or did you need to buy an add on too? Also the PS2 was backwards compatible with PS1 games so you would have access to a large cheap library, not everyone had a PS1 for the previous generation so this was a real benefit.

    Another comparison between the Genesis and SNES would be mentioning the backwards compatibility with previous generations, the Genesis could play SMS games and the SNES could play Gameboy games. I would say the SNES won that comparison as there were few good SMS games in North America and the ones that were good were very rare and hard to get.

    I'm not sure if the SMS hardware was overall better than the NES, the SMS D-pad sucked whenever I used it and the pause button is on the actual console which isn't convenient. I don't mind the controller when playing games that aren't strict about movement or controls, but anything precise is far more difficult than it should be. I like the SMS far more now than when I started collecting back in the early 2000's, I thought it was mostly junk at the time and most collectors felt the same way then.

    The 3DO wasn't really meant to compete with other home consoles, it was meant to compete with Multimedia PCs which were far more expensive at the time. Most of the games were PC ports.

    I also don't get the logic of why the SMS is listed as superior to the NES because of the processor speed, by that logic the Genesis should beat out the SNES as it has the faster processor. Sports games played better on the Genesis. I thought the Genesis had larger cart sizes too, or am I wrong about that? It's not very consistent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gameguy View Post
    Another benefit of the PS1 being disc based is it being usable as a CD player, back when it came out CDs weren't as common compared to cassette tapes
    Were they really? I didn't really buy music until '97, but when I was trying to buy cassettes then, there was a tiny selection compared to what was available on CD at any store I went to. It's hard to imagine the music industry doing a complete 180 in just two years or less, with cassettes outnumbering CDs in '95. I do remember '95 was when practically every kid I went to school with wanted a portable CD player for their birthday or Christmas. I don't know if that would've been their first CD players, or if they already had boomboxes with CD players and just wanted a portable version. (In my case, my first portable CD player was my first CD player period. Didn't get a PS1 until '99. But my brother had already bought a boombox with a CD player a good bit prior to '97 and had a collection of probably at least 50+ CDs by then.) I'm sure the CD player of the PS1 offered some draw, but it wasn't even the first gen to offer CD players, since Turbo CD and Sega CD have built-in players too, so I'm guessing a lot of people already had at least one device that could play CDs by the time they bought a PS1.

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    Turbo GrafX-16 and PC Engine CD add on could play CDs in 1990. Every disc-based CD add on or system prior to PS1 could play CDs so that wasn't exactly new. I got my first Boom box in 1995 and it had a CD player. First Discman in 96. We are not wealthy by any means but my dad got a stereo for the house in 1992 and it had a 5 disc changer. I still listened to cassettes as well as they were often cheaper but we had a few CD players. All my friends family had at least 1 CD player.



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    I asked my husband out of curiosity, as he was frequently buying music much earlier than me, and he said CDs far outnumbered cassettes in stores even in '95. But that was in NYC. Maybe Canada was slower to switch over.

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    basically just have to look at overall sales for each generation

    NES
    SNES
    PS1
    PS2

    Cant comment on other generations

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B View Post
    I asked my husband out of curiosity, as he was frequently buying music much earlier than me, and he said CDs far outnumbered cassettes in stores even in '95. But that was in NYC. Maybe Canada was slower to switch over.
    It depends on peoples' circumstances really. We mostly bought cassettes as long as they were available as they were cheaper than CDs, and cars had cassette players standard so why buy a format that couldn't be used in as many devices? I know we got a new car in '97 or '98 and it came with a cassette player instead of a CD player. I remember Elton John released his Candle in the Wind album on cassette in 1997 as that's when Princess Diana died, cassettes were still around then. It's more like how DVDs are still being sold even though Blurays are commonplace now. The PS1 launched in 1995 so that's the time period when it really mattered and looked impressive, that's really when people started switching over to CDs.

    Even if we did have a CD player or a boombox that had a CD player by 1995, it wasn't solely mine to use. I would have had to listen to CDs in the living room, rather than in my room(I really don't remember exactly when we got this CD boombox). I was given a hand-me-down cheap brand type boombox with a cassette player around that time and just cassette portable walkmans/players until the early to mid 2000's(or very late 90's), mostly cheap players by lesser companies. Even my first portable CD player was a gift from a relative and it was an off-brand player, which always had difficulties holding the discs properly but still worked when I last used it. I do miss that old cassette boombox but the tape player stopped working and it wasn't worth repairing.

    Even if CD compatible game consoles were out earlier like the Turbo Duo or Sega CD, they weren't commonly purchased. Not many people could afford them when they came out, so for many people the PS1 would have been the first CD based console they realistically would have owned. Maybe they owned a SNES instead of a Genesis so no Sega CD, or a young kid was given a PS1 and it was his or her first system. If wanting to buy a new system in late 1996 or early 1997, someone might pick a PS1 over an N64 partly because of the CD playing capabilities. Not solely but a contributing factor. The N64 came out after the PS1, if it looked like it was less capable than the system that came out earlier, why buy it?

    Basically playing CDs might have been a beneficial extra feature for some people, but not necessarily useful to everyone. If given solely to a kid to have hooked up in his or her bedroom instead of in a living room, that would be a useful CD player. It could have also been used as a VCD player as optional accessories were available to allow this to work, again few people in North America used VCDs but some people still did.

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    The cassette continued on as long as it did because of the convenience of the Walkman; portable CD players just were not very practical due to size and skipping issues, though the latter issue was mostly solved around 2000 or so. Also, many cars still were equipped with cassette players well into the 2000s, and it was still found as a feature on boomboxes just about as long, if not longer. Personally, I remember seeing ads for CD players at decent affordable prices starting in the late '80s/early '90s, and I personally got my very first CD player (a Sony boombox) as a Christmas present in 1992. It had a cassette recorder built into it.

    The format which the CD killed off was the LP record. The CD made its debut in 1982, but CD players were too expensive for most consumers, and the discs themselves had sound quality issues early on thanks largely to recording engineers who were used to mastering LPs. Once those issues were sorted out, sales climbed dramatically, as sales of LP records started to fall. By 1992, the 33RPM LP record was all but dead at the retail level, though the 45RPM 7" single continued on a little longer than that due to a lack of a suitable CD equivalent (3" mini-CDs were attempted, but weren't much cheaper, and were awkward for some CD players to handle) and due to their use in jukeboxes. By 1996, CD players were commonplace in the consumer market, so the original Sony PlayStation definitely didn't have the same effect on the audio CD that the PlayStation 2 would have on movie DVDs when it was released.
    -Adam

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    Skipping wasn't an issue in 98 with my 10-second skip protection on a Sony Discman. Then in 1999, I got a Phillips 45 second skip protection. I still own that player and it still works and I still use it on occasion. Yes, I have owned MP3 players. Neither work anymore tho. One is from 2003 and the other 2008. HDD died on the first and the other battery died for good about 2 years ago.



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    I just wanna give a shoutout to the Sony Walkman CD player which I think is one of the highest quality pieces of technology ever produced. I forst got one around 1998 or 1999 and never had a single issue with it. I recently bought one again and these things have stood the test of time. You can flip the Hold switch on, move the CD player around at any angle and it wont skip at all. boots up fast, great design, easy to use, and affordable. you cant find portable CD players like that anymore

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryudo View Post
    Skipping wasn't an issue in 98 with my 10-second skip protection on a Sony Discman. Then in 1999, I got a Phillips 45 second skip protection. I still own that player and it still works and I still use it on occasion. Yes, I have owned MP3 players. Neither work anymore tho. One is from 2003 and the other 2008. HDD died on the first and the other battery died for good about 2 years ago.
    It sure was in 1993 when I got my first Discman. No skip protection whatsoever, so much of any movement while it was playing would send it skipping like a stone. It went through batteries like candy, too; Sony included a NiCad rechargeable pack, but it didn't last long, and you couldn't use the player while the battery was charging for some stupid reason.

    I eventually replaced it with an Aiwa which had 10 second skip protection and better battery life. Might still have it if it hadn't been stolen during a science fair where I was using it to power a tube amplifier. As for MP3 players, I own numerous examples of early Apple iPods, including the first two models, and most of them still work apart from weak battery packs. Hard drives are definitely their Achilles heel, as they are of any digital audio player which uses them.

    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    I just wanna give a shoutout to the Sony Walkman CD player which I think is one of the highest quality pieces of technology ever produced. I forst got one around 1998 or 1999 and never had a single issue with it. I recently bought one again and these things have stood the test of time. You can flip the Hold switch on, move the CD player around at any angle and it wont skip at all. boots up fast, great design, easy to use, and affordable. you cant find portable CD players like that anymore
    Not sure when Sony ditched the Discman name and started using the Walkman name on all their portables. After my Aiwa portable CD player was stolen, I got a Walkman CD player which was kinda ugly, but the skip protection was excellent. Didn't help the fact that it didn't fit in my pocket since it was still about the size of a CD, so I mostly used my cassette Walkman for portable listening until the MP3 era.
    -Adam
    Last edited by AdamAnt316; 03-02-2020 at 09:11 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    I just wanna give a shoutout to the Sony Walkman CD player which I think is one of the highest quality pieces of technology ever produced. I forst got one around 1998 or 1999 and never had a single issue with it.
    It depends on what years you're talking about. The Sony Discmans with the best sound quality are the ones from the 80's through early 90's, but these are the ones that are the least reliable. I tend to keep an eye out for these earlier ones and rarely find any still working, they need to be rebuilt. Most online are listed for parts or repair. A friend of mine collects and repairs these so I end up passing most onto him.

    The coolest one I've found is the Sony D-88, the smallest CD player ever made as it's smaller than CDs. It was in excellent physical condition in the original case with the original headphones, looked barely used. Wouldn't read any discs, thinking back I don't remember if it actually spun the discs or not. My friend was happy to get it. I don't think he got around to fixing it yet.

    The ones from the late 90's through early 2000's are usually fine, at least at this point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gameguy View Post
    It depends on what years you're talking about. The Sony Discmans with the best sound quality are the ones from the 80's through early 90's, but these are the ones that are the least reliable. I tend to keep an eye out for these earlier ones and rarely find any still working, they need to be rebuilt. Most online are listed for parts or repair. A friend of mine collects and repairs these so I end up passing most onto him.

    The coolest one I've found is the Sony D-88, the smallest CD player ever made as it's smaller than CDs. It was in excellent physical condition in the original case with the original headphones, looked barely used. Wouldn't read any discs, thinking back I don't remember if it actually spun the discs or not. My friend was happy to get it. I don't think he got around to fixing it yet.

    The ones from the late 90's through early 2000's are usually fine, at least at this point.
    I never knew about the D88 til now. that thing looks awesome. itd be interesting to see just how small they could make a functioning CD player today.

    I bought a cheap GPX CD player a few years ago. it was the only one they were selling. it had the life expectancy of a Retron 5. so less than a year, with my experience

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gameguy View Post
    The coolest one I've found is the Sony D-88, the smallest CD player ever made as it's smaller than CDs. It was in excellent physical condition in the original case with the original headphones, looked barely used. Wouldn't read any discs, thinking back I don't remember if it actually spun the discs or not. My friend was happy to get it. I don't think he got around to fixing it yet.
    The D-88 is very much of an oddball in the Discman world, as it was chiefly intended for playing the little 3" CDs which were intended to replace the 45RPM single, but never did. The back panel had a little lever which moved the transport towards the center for 3" CD playback, or towards one of the corners for 5" CD playback. The result of the latter setting, of course, ends up looking like this:

    They're referred to as "the buzzsaw" for a reason..........
    Last edited by AdamAnt316; 03-03-2020 at 06:29 PM.

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    If the D-88 was working I probably would have kept it, I just couldn't fix it myself and it would have been too costly to repair at least in my opinion of cost. It's just how Sony players are, the best in creative design and performance, the lower the reliability. Surface mounted capacitors of the time were very new and very unreliable, it's a large part of what fails in these types of portable electronics from this time period. Difficult to replace. The same can be applied to Sony cassette Walkmans, the most compact and advanced designs with extra features are the most failure prone, the earlier large budget oriented Sony players (like the WM-1) are often still working with the original belts and are easily serviceable if the belts need replacing. The Direct Drive models are worse than belt ones as the gears become brittle and break, it's not as simple as just replacing a belt with a new one.

    For more recent portable CD players I would say Panasonic ones are somewhat unreliable. The most recent one I've found is having some slight issues which I'm trying to figure out, it's just not worth a lot in repair costs as it would only be worth around $20 fully working. Overall I've had good luck with Sony and JVC players, and some Panasonics. I don't really bother buying other brands too often.

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    I have a couple Discman portable CD players that still work just fine. In fact, I use them more than my old iPod. My current phone gets the job done for mp3s, but I'll pull out the CD players when I just want to grab a CD off the shelf. I know a lot of people have gotten rid of all their CDs at this point, but I still really love my collection of game and movie soundtracks and drama CDs.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamAnt316 View Post
    The CD made its debut in 1982, but CD players were too expensive for most consumers, and the discs themselves had sound quality issues early on thanks largely to recording engineers who were used to mastering LPs.
    The funny thing is now there's the reverse problem. With vinyls coming back as this niche fad, my husband, who's an audio engineer, finds himself mastering vinyls occasionally now. But he often initially receives tracks that are compressed to hell and back and would make a needle jump around like crazy if they were mastered as-is, so he has to specifically request uncompressed tracks. Vinyl has physical limitations that just don't apply to CDs and other formats. The loudness war that started with Ricky Martin still has lasting effects to this day.
    Last edited by Aussie2B; 03-15-2020 at 11:06 AM.

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