QLAY - Another QL Emulator for PC's
Review by Timothy Swenson
QLAY is a QL emulator for MS-DOS or Win95 recently released by
Jan Venema. It was announced in the newsgroup comp.sys.sinclair.
Once seeing the announcement, I quickly downloaded the program
from Jan's web page. QLAY is freeware and may be freely
distributed. The program comes as a ZIP file and is extracted
using PKUNZIP. QLAY is at version 0.7 so it at the "proof of
concept" stage of development.
I first tried QLAY on a 386/33 with only 8 Megs of memory. It
quickly failed. The short documentation that comes with QLAY
says that the minimal configuration is a 386 with 16 Meg of
memory. Next I tried it on a 486/66 with 16 Meg. Within a few
seconds, there was the familiar F1/F2 screen. Using a VGA
monitor, the aspect ratio was perfect. It looked just like the
QL screen. The documentation said that a 486/66 runs the
emulator at the speed of a standard QL. To get any speed equal
to a Gold Card you will probably need a fairly fast Pentium.
Like other QL emulators, namely QLEM, QLAY has the QL ROM stored
in a separate file. This allows it to load in different ROMs.
If you have the ToolKit II ROM code stored in a file, you can
merge it with the QL ROM that comes with QLAY and get the full
TKII extensions. The documentation details how this is done.
QLAY only supports MDV_ for files or devices. It does not yet
support SER, FLP, or NET. Microdrives are 178K MS-DOS files that
QLAY can treat like a Microdrive. QLAY comes with three example
MDV_ files; EXAMPLE.MDV, EMPTYDSK.MDV, and QUILL.MDV. If you
need additional MDV files, just copy EMPTYDSK.MDV to another file
and you have another "formated" Microdrive cartridge. You tell
QLAY which MDV file to load when it starts. It supports up to 8
different MDV files. To load QLAY with the QUILL.MDV file and
EXAMPLE.MDV, you execute QLAY this way:
QLAY -1QUILL.MDV -2EXAMPLE.MDV
QUILL.MDV becomes MDV1_ and EXAMPLE.MDV becomes MDV2_. You can
also make the Microdrive file read-only (write- protected) by
adding an R in -1RQUILL.MDV.
QLAY supports both 128K and 768K versions of a QL. Adding the -S
arguement runs QLAY in 768K mode. QLAY also supports different
resolution modes using a -D arguement. Mode 1 gives the best
aspect ratio, but is the slowest mode. The PC screen modes sizes
Mode 0 320x200x256
Mode 1 350x640x16
Mode 2 400x640x256
Mode 3 480x640x256
Mode 4 800x600
The documentation says that QLAY may choose to ignore the mode
settings you give it.
Since QLAY comes with a Microdrive file with QUILL, I had to try
this. I executed the program as:
QLAY fired up and popped up the F1/F2 screen. I pressed F1 and
withing a few seconds the QUILL loading screen came up. Then
soon QUILL itself come up. It looked exactly as it does now as
I'm typing this article into QUILL.
QLAY does not come with any program to get a QDOS file into an
MS-DOS .MDV file. I expect in the future it will. Since QLAY
does not support SER devices, you can not print out what you type
into QUILL. This means that QLAY is ready to be used an a fully
This version of QLAY is not ready for prime-time. It is a good
beta program that shows that the core part of the emulator has
been written and works. The next step is to add the features
that make QLAY usable as a QL.
I don't see QLAY as a serious threat to QPC. I see QPC as a
complete replacement of a (Super) Gold Card QL. Once QLAY is
more developed, I see it as being equal to a QL with a Trump
Card. With only 768K, you are not going to be running
Ghostscript on QLAY. If QLAY continues develepment, it will be a
good alterative to anybody that has a PC and only needs a Trump
Card-level QL. With my Gold Card QL, QPC takes me into the
future, QLAY takes me into the past. And being Freeware, you
really can't beat the price of QLAY.
QLAY is available from Jan Venema at
)                   ( geocities.com/siliconvalley