Atari Jaguar

from AEO magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9


 |||   Catbox Review
 |||   By: Travis Guy
/ | \  GEnie: AEO.MAG   Delphi: AEO_MAG
       -----------------------------------------------------------------

I've found a whole new way to play Jaguar - with the CatBox from Black
Cat Designs. Before, I've had my Jag hooked up to my old 19" RCA TV
through an RF connection. The picture was clear, sharp, and the sound
was great. While I have seen Jaguars hooked up to stereos and non-RF
televisions, I had never played one extensively.

But when my CatBox arrived (with an adaptor to allow me to connect to
my old 1040ST's SC1224 monitor), I was able to start seeing and hearing
my games in a whole new fashion.


//// What Is It?

The CatBox is a stainless steel box that connects to an Atari Jaguar
via the Jaguar's DSP & AV Out bus edges, and provides industry standard
connector jacks for S-Video, RGB and composite video; Left and Right
channel stereo RCA jacks; two 1/8" stereo headphone jacks (with volume
adjust); RS-232 and "CatNet" networking ports, and a pass-through Jaguar
DSP bus, so other devices can be daisychained.

Inside the CatBox are two PCBs with the support electronics to drive
old Atari/Amiga era RGB monitors, and to properly do everything else
that is asked of it. It's a very solid piece of engineering.

If you're buying CatBox to drive an RGB monitor, contact Black Cat to
make sure your monitor type is supported. (It should support a scan
rate of 15.75kHz.) There are two jumpers on one of the PCBs inside the 
CatBox which a user could set for certain monitor requirements. 
Furthermore, a monitor cable adaptor may be required. (I had to have my
SC 1224's brightness increased slightly, but it was well worth the
time... nothing provides a sharper Jaguar display, than an RGB monitor.)

There's two red LEDs that can been seen through holes drilled into the
top of the CatBox. They both light up when the Jaguar is powered up,
and I'm told that when networked, the LEDs will flicker on and off
similar to a modem's Receive Data and Transmit Data LEDs.

The CatBox has no external power needs or supplies. All power that it
uses is drawn from the Jaguar. A nice, neat solution.


//// Network Now For The Future

Networking. A future step that the video game industry will have to
take. CatBox supports RS-232 devices (if a game will support it, you
can connect a standard external modem to the RS-232 port), CatNet
(another networking possibility that uses twisted-pair telephone cable
to daisychain connect multiple Jaguars), and a place to connect
future DSP-port devices.

I don't have another copy of Doom to test networking with myself, but
I've spoken to several third-party developers who swear by CatBox for
their network tests.


//// Final Ratings

Title: CatBox                    Networking: CatNet, RS-232 and DSP
Designed by: Black Cat Designs        Video: RGB, SVideo, composite
Marketed by: ICD, Inc.            Available: Now
MSRP: $69.99                          Audio: L/R RCA, 2 headphone

Of the three "computer port" games that appeared earlier this spring
for Jaguar (Cannon Fodder, Syndicate, and Theme Park), all experience
some "muddiness" of text when viewed through RF output. Not so when
played on my lowly Goldstar SC1224 monitor through CatBox! Crisp,
clear graphics. (I didn't even know that the starfield in Tempest 2000
wasn't made of =white= stars, till I saw it through CatBox!)

Audio-wise, the stereo jacks work perfectly. (If you only connect one
jack to your amplifier, CatBox will sense this and supply both
channels of audio through the one jack. Nice, Tom!) The amplified
headphone jacks on the CatBox are a =perfect= touch - nice, clean,
loud stereo.

Control and use are a snap. Just make sure your Jaguar is on a solid,
flat surface and that it won't be jarred during play - doing so could
possibly interrupt the Jaguar/CatBox connection.

Overall, this product earns five stars across the board, and the
shortest AEO Jaguar review on record! There's nothing else to say,
CatBox is a perfect addition to your Jaguar, and a definite "buy."


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