There's no doubt that a lot of news revolves around Laurent Zorawski. We contacted him to ask questions on a number of subjects, including his role as an Amiga reseller (at Amedia Computer), the creation of AAA Technology, the AmigaOne X5040 and A1222 and his future projects.
Laurent Zorawski is on the far right, alongside Matthew Leaman, Trevor Dickinson and Franck Bednarski (photo from blog.a-eon.biz)
I'm Laurent Zorawski, 49 this year and an Amiga fan since the release of the Amiga 1000 in 1986/1987 in Europe. I studied accounting and IT for a few years (the basics, shall we say) and I've always worked in the IT field, mainly assembling and selling hardware of all kinds. One of my other hobbies is watching TV series and films. ;)
What's been your Amiga background so far?
I was lucky enough to discover the Amiga thanks to a friend whose father had bought two Amiga 1000s just as they were coming out. After that and a while of waiting, I was able to buy myself an Amiga 500, then an A1200, which was upgraded over time with an accelerator card (68030 then PowerPC), MicroniK case, Mediator card...
From 2003 onwards, I started working at FL Computer in Luxembourg and suggested to the boss that he should resell the Pegasos 2 (of which I bought one), then the MicroAmigaOne, then the Sam440 when I changed boss to work at IMM Informatique (still in Luxembourg), then the Minimig with my first company, New Gen Informatique (Luxembourg) and then came the time ("of the cathedrals"... oops, I digress) of Amedia Computer France with Classic Amiga hardware, the Sam460 and Sam460cr, AmigaOne X1000 and the current AmigaOne X5000 and Sam460LE.
My favourite Classic Amiga hardware is still the Amiga 1000 and the A1200, but the MiST are also great for playing old games again. The AmigaOne X5000 is very practical for everyday use and very fast. ;)
At the end of June 2023, you announced the creation of a new three-way partnership, with AmigaKit and A-EON Technology, under the name AAA Technology. What is the background/history behind this creation?
In summary, it has always been Amedia Computer's intention to open a second shop in Luxembourg, almost since the company was founded. Seeing the Brexit coming fast after 2015/2016, and having a growing demand for the NG Amigas, we dug into the idea of bringing together some of the Amiga's driving forces (hardware wise mainly) to create a central place to sell the incoming AmigaOne X5000 and minimise the impact of the Brexit for end users.
So we started discussions with AmigaKit/A-EON Technology after the 2017 Amiga32 show where we were able to meet them physically and, one thing led to another, from 2019 onwards, things became clearer. We had quite a few email exchanges, Matthew Leaman and Trevor Dickinson had the opportunity to come to Luxembourg and visit our shop in France at the same time (remember that we are very close to Luxembourg with our French shop) and an agreement was reached to create a new entity, AAA Technology, of which Amedia Computer France, AmigaKit and A-EON Technology are the three partners.
The company has been in existence administratively since mid-October 2020 and the shop was able to open many months later (at the end of 2021) due to containment periods, among other things.
What are AAA Technology's objectives?
AAA Technology's main objective is to be the preferred reseller for the AmigaOne X5000 (for end-users and other resellers), as well as the AmigaKit's Classic Amiga products over time.
The second objective was to facilitate the production of A1222 motherboards by avoiding customs stops and other administrative hassles that slow down the process enormously.
AAA Technology is located in Differdange (Luxembourg) and Amedia Computer France in Courcelles-Chaussy (France). Are there two teams to manage/maintain the two shops?
The team is exactly the same and we rotate our presence between Franck Bednarski and myself (Laurent) for the two shops.
Matthew Leaman remains the main contact for AmigaKit and A-EON Technology, and Trevor Dicksinson for A-EON Technology. Each of them will keep their own activities. They haven't come to Differdange yet, but they did come to Luxembourg when we were looking for premises for the future shop, and in passing they visited our shop in Courcelles-Chaussy. Which doesn't stop us from holding regular video conferences!
A-EON Technology no longer has an AmigaOS 4 licence for its computers. How did AAA Technology negotiate with Hyperion for this new licence?
In fact, after discussions with Ben Hermans some time ago, we reached an agreement so that Amedia Computer France could be the only entity able to buy AmigaOS 4.1 licences for the AmigaOne X5000 from Hyperion and resell them to AAA Technology in order to be able to resell the AmigaOne X5000 (motherboards alone or complete towers ready to go).
Similarly, AAA Technology has obtained a second agreement to distribute AmigaOS 4.1 licences with A1222 motherboards and for complete AmigaOne A1222 computers. :)
The A-EON Technology machine currently available is the AmigaOne X5040. Can you tell us about this computer? For what kind of customers is it intended?
This is an improved version of the AmigaOne X5020 motherboards, with a faster processor, quad-core instead of dual-core, and memory operating at 1600 MHz instead of 1333 MHz. For the rest, the specifications remain identical.
Users of both versions are mainly developers or people who want to discover AmigaOS 4 (or MorphOS) with fast hardware and more common software: office automation, web browsing, e-mail, video, games, etc.
Is the AmigaOne X5020 still available?
There are currently no more AmigaOne X5020 motherboards in stock. That said, there are still quite a few X5040 motherboards in stock. :)
The other A-EON Technology computer, soon to be available, is the AmigaOne A1222+. Could you also tell us about this computer? For what kind of customers is it intended?
It's a smaller motherboard, so it can be fitted into low-profile towers like the latest Sam460LE, but it's faster than these, with SATA (two ports), integrated networking and audio, a PCI-Express port for graphics cards and a SODIMM SODDR3 memory port, all at a price well below that of the AmigaOne X5040 motherboards.
So this is a low-cost NG Amiga product, but not a low-power one! It will suit any user wishing to discover AmigaOS 4 at a lower cost. These products will be available by the end of 2023, as production of the first stock is now complete!
In addition to AmigaOS 4, will the AmigaOne A1222+ eventually run MorphOS or Linux?
For Linux, this is already the case but there will be no more updates. For MorphOS, we don't yet have confirmation, but this should be the case as for the AmigaOne X5020 and X5040. ;)
To be continued. ;)
For the moment, neither the AmigaOne X5000 nor the A1222+ are listed in AAA Technology's online shop amigakit.fr. Are you only going to sell them via Amedia Computer France?
We sell them via both shops: the AmigaOne X5040 will return to the Amedia Computer France site, and the AmigaOne A1222 will be added to the AAA Technology site (amigakit.fr). We also make complete custom configurations, given that we are a specialist assembler.
The A1222+ will soon be released, but at a price (around 1,200 euros for a motherboard) that is no longer the price of a product that was originally intended to be entry-level. What are the reasons for this price increase? Aren't you afraid of losing potential customers?
This was indeed foreseen, but at least five years ago, well before all the problems linked to the COVID-19, component shortages, factories shut down to manufacture components, changes to the motherboard design that were not foreseen following these shortages, production of new prototypes, an increase of almost 300% in the price of components, complete production carried out in Europe and not in Asia for greater control...
In other words, many economic factors have led to these increases, and we can only suffer the consequences. For your information, other Amiga Classic designers have stopped producing their hardware altogether because of this.
For example: the designer of the excellent D520 adapters/converters stopped making these products at the end of last year because, after calculations, instead of 199.90 euros including VAT per converter, it should have been placed at 309.90 euros including VAT, i.e. an increase of more than 50% just for a product that is much less complex to manufacture than a motherboard! This gives a clear idea of the huge fluctuations in electronic component prices over the last three years! So we have no solution to allow a lower price than the one currently on offer.
The only alternative we offer is the possibility of paying for a purchase in three or four instalments free of charge for French customers (by credit card by phoning us), in order to "lighten" the investment a little.
NB: the A1222 motherboard is still faster in performance than the Sam460LE motherboards, while not being much more expensive!
We'd like to thank all the developers and designers who made it possible to finalise this project!
After the AmigaOne A1222+ and the AmigaOne X5000, do you know if other computer projects are in the pipeline?
For the moment, the other current project is the A600GS console, which will appear on the amigakit.fr site once mass production is completed (which shouldn't be long).
Let's move on to Amedia Computer France. What activities and services do you offer?
Whether Amedia Computer France or AAA Technology, the two entities offer the same services, namely: sale and installation of computer hardware for individuals and businesses (PC or Mac, fixed or portable, specialising in the assembly of gaming PC, peripherals, installation of complete computer fleets (up to a maximum of fifteen people), assembly of made-to-measure server PC, sale of televisions and mobile telephones unlocked to any operator, etc.), home troubleshooting (if economically viable for the end user), network troubleshooting. As far as Amiga products are concerned, Amedia Computer France will continue to sell all types of Classic Amiga products, while AAA Technology will continue to sell NG Amiga and PiStorm products.
We won't comment on that.
Are you planning to expand your society or take on new staff?
Yes, we are planning to recruit a sales representative for the Luxembourg shop, but this will depend on how the company develops.
A traditional question for a reseller: which Amiga products sell best? And those that are having trouble finding takers?
All Amiga products remain complicated to obtain, for a variety of reasons: insufficient production volume, problematic transporters, administrative problems (a company cannot obtain certain products, unlike an end-buyer), support problems, etc. We regularly get requests for NG Amigas, and some adapters for Classic Amiga are quite popular.
What proportion of your business is with the Amiga? How has this changed in recent years?
It's difficult to say, but we can estimate between 20% and 30% depending on the month, which is not negligible. At the start, 10 years ago, this represented between 3% and 6% at best, so there's been a good evolution, but that's essentially due to the fact that we've added the NG Amiga to our catalogue!
Do you use the Amiga (all variants) for professional purposes? If so, for what tasks and with what hardware/software?
We often use our test machines, if only to test new software and operating systems on our beloved machines. Also, to find out how a particular expansion card, adapter, etc. works. On the professional side, from time to time we test remote control of other computers, for example.
The Vampire and the PiStorm cards have revolutionised the Amiga accelerator card market. In your opinion, what are the strengths and weaknesses of each of them?
Vampire: we won't be commenting on these products.
For the PiStorms: yes, it's still a very good product with an excellent price/performance ratio! However, there's still a lot of room for improvement in terms of compatibility, for example between AGA/ECS and PiStorm boards, or avoiding the need to use two screens! But updates are progressing rapidly, and that's a very good thing!
More and more Amiga hardware is being offered as "open source" simply with Gerber design files (AP420 Renewed, 68000Relocator, GottaGoFastRAM, Minimal A501, etc.). Are you tempted to offer a manufacturing service to sell some of these products?
Tempted yes, but the reality of volume production remains a big concern, not to mention being able to offer quality support. So, unfortunately, even if the ideas are very good, it's still very complicated to produce them in "large" numbers, while avoiding mistakes and malfunctions!
As far as Amiga NGs are concerned, ACube Systems has relaunched the Sam460. Is there really a market for this computer or are we at the end of the road?
It's still interesting, and allows us to have a wider range of NG Amigas, which will be completed by the A1222 motherboards. So, I wouldn't exactly say end of life, but rather a second wind. ;)
This means we now have an extensive NG Amiga catalogue with three possible budgets, which hasn't been the case for 20 years. ;)
Will the 2019 acquisition of the Amiga intellectual property by Amiga Corporation change anything (however small) in your Amiga business? Do you work with (Amiga CEO) Mike Battilana or plan to do so in the future?
Our policy is not to mix court cases (ongoing or otherwise) with our business. Our aim is to ensure that the most important players in the Amiga world work together, even if this seems utopian. There have been, there still are and there always will be disagreements between people, but the aim is to be able to offer end-users a whole range of products, as wide as possible, while avoiding taking them to task for this or that other product/company.
What anecdotes can you tell us about your Amiga business?
The first being that Franck Bednarski was a client at the outset and that after discussions over a few months, he joined Amedia Computer as a partner. ;)
Secondly, an AmigaOne X5000, sold to the Amiga32, has almost travelled the world: it was sent to us from England, to be sold in Germany, then taken by the buyer to Taiwan, who himself recently sent it to an amiga enthusiast in New York in the United States!
Any last words for our readers?
First of all, we'd like to thank all our customers/friends around the world who have trusted us with their passion purchases over the years!
We're still very attached to direct human contact (which is why we've chosen to have two real shops on the street), even if this could be considered as "old school", rather than maintaining just an online shop, as many do to minimise costs and hide behind a virtual façade!
Finally, resellers and developers alike are constantly working hard to offer new products and improvements, as often as humanly possible, so don't hesitate to support them. ;)