Note: if you have a PAL machine that uses the zz9000, this rant probably does not apply to you.
I ordered mine back in January of 2020. We're fast approaching 2 years since that order went through. The pre-orders started back in 2018. The potential, at the time, seemed tremendous. And I suppose for some across the pond, the video modes totally deliver.
I'd been eyeing getting one for a while, but was sincerely worried about full NTSC support and focus. So I contacted Lukas, the genius inventor and proprietor of MNT Research GmbH, directly.
Lukas:I hope this isn’t a dumb question. I just wanted to make sure - will the ZZ9000 work with NTSC machines? I’ve got a spare A3000 (16Mhz) I’m thinking of throwing some love.
Legit question! The answer is yes, it works with NTSC.
Technically, it does work in NTSC machines as long as you only select the zz9000's video modes. However, the native NTSC video modes are an utter mess, which are supposed to have some sort of support with this card. The zz9000 P96 RTG modes? Jaw-droppingly awesome in many circumstances. Native NTSC modes? Total no-go. And this is nearly 2 years later in my case, if you don't consider how long the card had been in development before release.
I have local Seattle friends, very knowledgeable Amiga fans who are engineers by trade, pulling the card out and replacing it with 25 year old alternatives because they've given up hope for any meaningful change with the status quo.
Incredibly, a new audio module for the ZZ is in the works and can be pre-ordered for a potential December 2021 ship date.
And a new firmware update (Release 1.9) just went out. So it's actively being worked on and modified.
But, realistically, only for PAL folks.
One of my local friends told me today:
That's one really expensive kinda janky ethernet card ($450 USD not including shipping)!Yeah, non-starter for me, and means I still have an Indivision installed/don't use the P96 modes. [The zz9000] is just sitting in there providing Ethernet, which sometimes requires a reboot to make it work.
And scan doubling basic OCS modes? Nope. Video is corrupted after the first time you test a P96 video mode until you fully power cycle the machine.
Maybe if you live in PAL Land life is beautiful. But many of the customers on this side of the pond - and there are quite a few - feel like 2nd class citizens.
To be clear, I don't think our being ignored is intentional. It's simply not in front of the active devs, so we get left behind. Should we go buy PAL machines over here to see what the fuss is all about? That's not the point. The card is sold to support NTSC, so we bought it. But it's only ½ supported at best. And the other features of the card - USB and Ethernet - pale in comparison to other products on the market that are readily available. At the end of the day, it's all about the video capabilities.
Please, mnt, stop trying to invent new hardware for a little while and focus on the current installed base to deliver on the original promises. We aren't getting any younger. On paper, this card had the potential to be the most unbelievable, mind blowing Amiga video (and beyond) upgrade - one could argue - of all time. It would at least be the most transformative in 20 years.
As it stands, I wouldn't really miss it that much if I pulled it out. I honestly wouldn't give a flip at all. It serves only 1 purpose for me right now - 1024x768 via HDMI. That's it. Everything else it promised? That gets an eye-roll from me. At what point does the term "beta" convert into "this is what it is" for the rest of us?
Bottom line: if you are someone in the US/Canada/Japan regions who owns and runs NTSC machines as your daily driver, I can't recommend this card anymore unless you only want to use one of the ZZ's screen modes. That's it. Everywhere else in the world that uses PAL? Well, go for it. Must be nice.
Disclosure: I do not own any PAL machines. But I have a friend who says the PAL modes work perfectly on one of his A2000s. Also, Lukas is aware of these issues.