iEmulator 1.7.6, by iEmulator.com
Posted: 1-Sep-2005

2 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: iEmulator.com Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Judd Spitzer Class: PRODUCTIVITY

Overview
With all this chatter about Apple switching microprocessors to Intel, I found myself perplexed, since I've known that the PowerPC platform was a optimal choice for emulation of other processors. While the speeds will never be one for one, you could get some acceptable performance from emulation software. There are a variety of processors that one may want to emulate, such as the Motorola 68000 family, or perhaps some of the chipsets used for gaming, al a MacMame's videogame emulator.

Another realm of emulation that is always sought after for the Mac is Windows/Intel emulation. iEmulator is a PC emulator, designed to run a version of DOS, and you BYOOS (Bring Your Own Operating System). In my case I chose to go with Windows 95 as my PC OS of choice.

Price
$23.95 to get access to the download.


What You Should Know
iEmulator is basically a front end for the QEMU open-source emulator project. The folks working on the QEMU project are not associated with this software (iEmulator). From their website, "In all of the tests we've tried, our solution, based on the powerful QEMU codebase, runs significantly quicker! Please note that QEMU is a trademark of Fabrice Bellard, and the source code for the Open-Source components of iEmulator are available
here." More information about QEMU can be found at the QEMU home page.

Installation
Installation is where the story begins. I received my password to download the software with no problem at all. After the lengthy download (broadband is a must), I prepared myself for what I hoped would be an easy and smooth install. The good news is, getting the program up and running in DOS mode was a snap. The downloaded DMG (Disk Image) had documentation and the software necessary to get you up and running in a special version of DOS.


Running DOS in iEmulator

Getting WIN95 to run
My purpose of wanting to run a PC emulator was to run Windows on my Mac, so I could try out some of the programs that are PC only. I thought, ok, I'll just put this installation CD in from Microsoft, and type d:intall.exe and hopefully I would be on my way. No luck! It turned out that iEmulator requires that all CDs be converted into DMG files in order to be properly used by the program.

Converting my WIN95 CD to a DMG file was an extra step, and a drawback of the program, but I was committed! First I tried Disk Copy, just like the manual had suggested. I followed the instructions to no avail. I even tried other Macs to create this dreaded DMG file. Nothing I did would create a workable DMG file. I didn't stop there. I actually downloaded numerous other freeware/shareware products that claimed to make DMGs. Those would not work either.

I didn't give up hope. According to their website, iEmulator should be able to get things going, and while no phone support exists for this product, I found that the email support was very prompt. They understood my problem, and provided a link to a 3rd party program called 622c that makes that WIN95 DMG usable. Finally, I was in!

Set up and Controls
iEmulator provides you with 4 emulators in a way. You can actually run 4 different PCs, and configure each one differently. You can have different memory requirements and different hard drive sizes. iEmulator is very capable of running those different instances of the PC in DOS mode. That is to say, you can actually run multiple machines at the same time on your Mac (i.e., 4 PCs).

Once you get things up and running, you are basically running either DOS or Windows. On my G4 800Mhz, I found that running Windows was a bit slow. I changed many different configurations within the program, without finding a happy medium to get to better performance out of my Windows load. There was too much delay pressing the Start menu and actually having it appear. When considering that Windows 95 runs reasonably well on slow processors such as Pentium IIs, I expected similar performance at a minum.

Screen resolution was pretty standard from what I expected. Having a one button mouse did not make an easy task out of attempting to do work within iEmulator. My real desire was to use the web browser and other Internet applications within the Windows environment. I started up Internet Explorer (IE) and found that I couldn't connect to the Internet. I attempted to troubleshoot the network. Windows just didn't see it, and I was baffled.

I tried out some of the preloaded programs, such as WordPad and Solitaire, both performed acceptably for occasional use. However, I would rather use Mac specific versions of applications when available, and text editors and solitaire games on the Mac are available galore.

My big question was, how would I get files that I created in Windows back into the real world (aka, my Mac)? I could not find an easy way to do it. The inability to move files easily to and from this system is the biggest problem facing this program. This is clearly an issue that could possibly be resolved with better USB and IDE support functions, so that "real devices" are recognized as plug and play.


Running multiple computers within iEmulator

iEmulator does have some other features besides its support for Windows 98 and XP. iEmulator allows you to specify the screen sizes appropriate to your usage needs, just as you can in a standard Windows environments. You can create additional Hard Drives, or "PC" partitions, that reside as a file on your hard drive. When you allocate these hard drives, you lose that space from your existing Mac hard drive. As mentioned earlier, you can run up to 4 PCs from a control window. This feature allows you to configure and run different PCs at the same time, so in essence you could run XP, 95 and Linux all on your Mac at the same time. Speaking of Linux, iEmulator has nice support for multiple operating systems, giving you the flexibility to do just about anything you would like with your Mac.

Summary
iEmulator delivers a PC emulator at a fraction of the cost of any of the alternatives out there. The attractive price is the main draw of this program. The complete functionality is still limited in this release, but I am optimistic for the product's future. In that regard, you pay for it once, and you receive free upgrades for life; hence, as the product evolves, you are assured of receiving the updates. If you are looking to learn some DOS or Linux, you may find iEmulator worth a look as is. If you need a program to seriously take up the slack and run PC applications that are unavailable for your Mac, then I would recommend looking at other alternatives as there are some major issues that still need to be ironed out in this product. This is the beginning of a good program, and I think that with community support, it can get better. For now, iEmulator may be too much effort and lack needed features for someone who wants to have their Mac run PC programs.


Pros

  • Low Cost
  • Free upgrades for Life
  • Supports multiple operating systems
  • Fast email technical support

Cons

  • Difficult to install OS
  • No disk/CD support
  • Poor network support


Overall Rating

2 1/2 out of 5 Mice