The Commodore 16 is packaged in the same type of box that has clothed Commodore 64s and VICs for the past few years. The machine`s colour scheme is rather different to the CBM 64; it looks like a negative gunmetal box and a grey keyboard.
The ports at the back of the box show a departure from the 64/VIC stable with the omisssion of the RS232C interface and the parallel user port.
Most remaining features have been changed: the cartridge/expansion port has been reduced in size to stop people shoving CBM64 cartridges into a C16. Commodore say that no RAM memory expansion will fit into this slot, only cartridges, although `Memory Expansion` is written above it. Commodore`s answer is "We know"; apparently the moulding was made by a Chinaman or something. It is unknown whether the highly advanced structure of the CBM 64`s slot is duplicated with the facility for second processors etc.
The two D9 connectors of the CBM 64 have been dispensend with and replaced with mini DIN connectors: this means you can only use Commodore`s joysticks but even thier new `hi-tec` style ones are not the best on the market. This is foolish since it is so easy to make an adaptor for use with any joystick. No doubt there will be a roaring trade in adaptors. There is also one other problem with joysticks: on the box they are labelled `PORT 0` and `PORT 1`: BASIC thinks they are `JOY (1)` and `JOY (2)` - the mysterious Chinaman perhaps?
The cassette recorder socket is also a mini DIN connector; this is because the C16 cassette deck is diffferent to the old tape decks. This Doesn`t really matter with the C16 as a cassette deck gets supplied with the computer.
Thankfully, Commodore have left the Serial BUS and the audio/video connector alone. Since all Commodore`s existing peripherals which use these ports will not work staight off, there are already printers and disc drives available for the machine: this is a welcome change from the usual state of affairs where the user has to wait up to two years for any peripherals at all.
The keyboard is up to Commodore`s usual excellent standards and probably represents most of the component cost of the machine (it did on the CBM64 and VIC). Changes made from the VIC/64 keyboard include four separate cursor keys an escape key, and various modifacations to the layout of the keys to facilitate thes changes. The cursor keys are now on the top right of the keyboard. This confusing to a user who is experienced with the Commodore keyboard of old, but it is extremely logical and easy to get used to for the first time user.
Inside the C16
The internal hardware reveals some surprisese. Most of the inside is driven via one big chip: called either the 7501 or TED chip depending on your inclination, it combines a 6510 processor at 2Mhz with a sound generator, timers, input/output, memory banking, and graphics generation. In all it has 19 registers to control things (in order of graphics ability: the
Spectrum has 1, MSX has 6, the BBC has 17, the Commodoe 64 has 47).
Sound ability is as good as any other computer although it only has two channels - either two sound channels or sound and one noise (for special effects). Nearly all the time advanced sound features of the SID chip have been left out like ADSR, filtering and modulation.
Graphics ability is superb. It is natural that this and the Plus 4 will be compared with the Commodore 64 as there are a lot of similarities in spec; the graphics are different and there are currently two schools of thought as to which is better, the CBM 64 or the C16.