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VIC-20, Commodore 64, Amiga. If you were a child of the 80s with any interest in computers, then there’s a good chance that these names mean a lot to you. Hours of sitting in front of a whirring, buzzing tape machine to play a game that....well, was basically rubbish, well, it’s what we did. Fans of Top 10s will be fascinated to know that the Commodore 64 is still the biggest selling single computer system of all time. It’s the ‘Thriller’ of computers – heck, it even came out in the same year – 1982.
Those heady days are long gone, and even though the original company went bankrupt in 1994, the Commodore brand name has been knocking about ever since. Clearly people have great affection for the name, as the current owners have relaunched the brand for the modern age with a series of high-end PCs, under the moniker of Commodore Gaming. The company has serious intentions and is shipping to the Netherlands, Germany and the UK and has announced plans to enter the US market too. Ambitious then.
I’ve been told that the owners are all big fans of the original Commodore machines and that the company has been set up in the spirit of those times – to offer the best entertainment machines it can, by gamers, for gamers. There is a flavour of this on the Commodore Gaming web site, with a section dedicated to the history of Commodore. The question is, is appropriating a classic name enough for it to succeed, and is there space for them in the market along with obvious rivals such as Alienware?
Four basic specifications are on offer using the titles, XX, GX, GS and G. While the G range starts at just over £1,000, you’ll be looking at closer to £3,000 for the high end XX. Naturally, the machine we’ve been sent is based on the top-end machine.
You can buy direct from the web site, but the company will also be selling though retail – it wants you to be able to touch and feel its machines as well as view them online. The reason for this is that all its machines are available with customised artwork on them – dubbed ‘C-Kin’ by the company. This could potentially be the killer weapon in Commodore’s arsenal. It has a database of artwork online, in a number of categories so your machine won’t look the same as everybody elses’. Some are great, some are shocking – (lime green anyone) but Commodore is also encouraging people to submit their own artwork – a community thing.
Unfortunately, the machine we were sent seems to be one of the worst of all the choices, but that’s just my opinion. The C-Kin isn’t air brushed, nor is it just a sticker but it’s actually burned into the panels of the case and feels quite smooth and durable. What's more, if you get bored of your choice, you can order new panels from Commodore, to keep the look of your machine fresh.
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