QL GETS A SOFT SPOT FOR THE SPECCYAn emulator program for the Sinclair Research QL is currently being written by Manchester computer company, Joe The Lion, enabling owners of the mythical wonder machine to run the full gamut of Spectrum software. It'll come with a cassette interface to allow the user to save QL programs to tape - a cheaper alternative to the relatively expensive Microdrive cartridges. But how is JTL managing to produce such a package when there aren't any QLs available?
Well, spokesman Lawrence Holt reports that a team of programmers involved in the project are &qout;working mostly on paper&qout;, which seems to suggest that a certain amount of testing has actually taken place. But Mr Holt would neither confirm nor deny this, saying only that he didn't possess a QL. However, he did imply that it wasn't beyond the bounds of possibility that he might have access to one. £25 all-in, the likelihood is it'll be in great demand. Enquiries to JTL, telephone nnn-nnn nnnn.
RUMOURS- VILLEOur spies report a couple of rumours currently circulating. First, a spokesman from a Midlands computer company tells us that a &qout;private individual in the Birmingham area&qout; is now the proud owner of one of Sinclair Research's new machines, and that this lucky laddie has been allowing a certain local manufacturer to work on the machine from time-to-time - giving a distinct commercial advantage over the rest.
The same source continued his revelations by disclosing that a close 'friend' employed on the QL project is claiming that plenty of the machines have been built and that they're just waiting for the ROMs to be completed and as soon as this has been done, they'll be plugged in and the completed units despatched - all of which sounds reasonable enough.
4 YOUR QL ...One of the on-going niggles about the QL is that it can't really be stuffed in a briefcase. So ... Quantum Leap Systems has racked its corporate brain and come up with a thing called the 4QL System. It's a terminal that's specifically aimed at the executive and professional user, and it comes in a smart
black unit reflecting the
design of the QL. It can be
used either as a desk-top
peripheral base or a carrying
case for the QL and its
Incorporated in the flash design is storage for up to 30 Microdrive cartridges and it opens out to provide a monitor base with three storage compartments - one for the QL when not in use, one for the cartridges (which has a drawer action) and one for the power unit and cables.
To match up with the 4QL, Quantum Leap Systems is also offering a matching black Brother HR5 printer and two 12-inch monochrome or RGB monitors in black cabinets. If you still need to be further convinced, the 4QL system will apparently be on display at The Computer Fair at Earls Court; Mr H Hadid, the Director of the company, will be on hand to answer the difficult questions. As for prices, he said, &qout;We haven't decided on that yet - because we don't know whether we'll be selling it as a complete package or as separates. Anyway, full details will be available on the day&qout;.
However, life's not all about waiting. For even now you can purchase a Microdrive Tidy from Quantum Leap Systems. This version holds 16 Microdrive cartridges and is priced at £6.99 (including VAT and postage). You can mail order it from QLS at nn xxxxxxx xxxxx, xxxxxxx, xxxxxxxxx xxnn nxx.
IT'S HERE, BUT ...Only four months late, the QL has finally arrived. The latest official delivery date had been "the end of April", but Sinclair Research apparently meant that this was when its Camberley mailing house was to get its first deliveries - the early customers had their happy event a few days later, at the beginning of May. It's difficult to find out how many were delivered, but it was believed to be a few hundred at the most.
Although the number of QLs out there seems small, the number with problems occurring does not. Using the QL on a television - and even some monitors - has produced unstable pictures for many customers; some are also suffering a loss of colour. As everyone expected, the 32k ROM space has indeed proved insufficient, and an extra 9k or so (the so-called kludge), is supplied hanging off the back.
After such delay, you'd have thought that at least the manuals would be finished - but not so. Although instructions for the Psion packages are supplied, the first customers received no details at all about SuperBasic or QDOS. Also missing is the page containing the pin-out for the monitor socket; so if you haven't got a TV - or the relevant page in the manual - you can't use your eagerly- awaited machine anyway. Presumably, delays with the documentation are as a result of a Basic which
seemed to change almost
faster than the projected
Another long overdue event has been the arrival of Microdrive cartridges in the shops ... you'll find them in chemists. newsagents, computer outlets, etc, etc. However, for your £4.95, you don't just get a tiny black box with 5p worth of video tape - as you do mail order - buying retail gives you, in addition, a large cardboard box, a plastic inlay, and a little notebook. Curiously the only thing missing from the over packaging is any mention of a guarantee or returns procedure should the thing fail.
NEW ADS FOR OLDIt seems the Advertising Standards Authority has finally got through to Sinclair Research and stopped the company advertising mail order products it cannot deliver. Instead of the old full colour double-page ads, the QL is now being pushed via single-page black and white spots.
And the wording has been changed from that of its controversial predecessor. Instead of extolling the virtues of the the machine, nine compliment quotes from the computer press (YS excepted) are reproduced. They made interesting reading, particularly when you consider the comments are based not on the machine, but on its published specifications.
The fact is the QL doesn't
conform very well to the
original spec, and ever since
the release of the machine, it's been difficult to find a
good word for Sinclair
Research in the computer
press - partly because so
few devices have been sent
out for review. Some virtues
are still extolled, but less
excessively than before. No
more are the Psion programs
"more powerful than existing
products costing up to
£5000", and references to
'Windows' have now been
reduced to plain old 'multi-
SPOT THE PRICEWhen in the dim and distant past the QL was first launched provisional manuals were given out in large quantities for the press to examine. And at the back of this tome was an order form - both for the QL itself, and some of its simpler add-ons. The price for the RS232 lead was put at £10.00, and the QL Microdrives £49.95. Since the RS232 lead has been specified as a 'free gift' for those suffering the long wait, the price has strangely risen to £14.95. and the cost of the QL Microdrive to £59.95.
In fact, the first Qls are supplied with another order form, this one giving a price of £49.95 for the 'drives. You get the impression that if you order by mail, you can claim the lower price, but if you phone-in your order, it rises a tenner for the privilege.