If you actually listen to our podcast, you know I LOVE 1980s video games and computing. One of the first computers I have ever owned was an Atari 800XL from the second generation of the Atari 8-bit computer line. In the 80s, I never had a floppy drive because the drive itself actually had the same chip that ran the 800XL inside of it which made the drive really expensive. So at the time, I used cartridge games and the occasional cassette game. Fast forward 38 years and now we have the technology we never dreamed of. Well, the device I am reviewing today takes the technology of today and lets you have more storage than you EVER had in the 80s on your old Atari 8-bit computer by leveraging the technology available to us today. The device I am talking about was made in Poland and is called the SIO2SD from Lotharek.
I have the second version of this device made in the Atari XL colors so it is designed to fit with the Atari 800XL from the start. The SIO2SD is made to emulate a floppy drive using the standard port on the Atari 8 bit line, called the SIO port. How it works is you take a standard SD card, create a directory called atari, then you can create sub folders inside of that to help you organize the floppy images which are called atr files. Take this SD Card and put them in the SD slot on the SIO2SD and turn on the computer. This device is powered from the SIO port so there is no need to have an AC adapter to power the device. On first power up, it will use whatever image you had previously selected and boot it. At this time you can select the image you want to load, turn off the computer then turn it back on and then it will boot the selected image.
You can get these images in various places on the web and sometimes they are compilation disks where it may have more than one program on the disk. Once the disk is booted it has a menu and you can press the letter of the program and it will load that program.
You can also create a blank image to use with cartridge software or even if you have a real Atari drive. It acts just like any other floppy drive. The only difference is the floppy image is on the SD card.
Really that’s really all there is. It does what it does and does it well. It makes playing with your old Atari 8 bit much more fun as now you can have mass storage for the Atari. Hard disks existed in that time period but they were REALLY expensive and the size of these disks were really small and nowhere close to what you can have today storage-wise. An example is the third-party Supradrive. It was only 10 MB in size….massive with regards to the Atari 8 bits but it was $799 at that time….which was more than Atari 8 bit computers themselves cost! So no one had them. Thanks to today’s technology you can now have a gigabyte sized storage device for your old Atari 8 bit computer from at time period where computers were fun!
The Lotharek SIO2SD at the time of this writing costs $54.25 in US Dollars, plus shipping and will take a week or so to make it across the pond to the US.