THE SHAPE OF THINGS|
T O C O M E ?
More than just a rumour ... Your Spectrum's Roger Munford gives you a sneak preview of the latest addition to the Sinclair Research range of computers - the soon-to-be-released ZX Spectrum+.
This time last year, the spicier rumours
around town concerned the identity of
the new machine Sinclair Research was
keeping very close to its chest. Speculations ranged from a complete re-design
for the business market (which it turned
out to be) to an upmarket Spectrum re-package, complete with Interfaces 1 and
2 and Microdrives (which also played
their part in the QL's design). However,
once the QL was launched, all thoughts
of any other machine were lost in the
press attention that followed ... until
ON THE PLUS SIDEYour Spectrum has good reason to believe that Sinclair Research will be launching a new machine to hit the market just before Christmas. Called the Spectrum+ (Plus), the computer will look a little like a QL, only not quite so big, incorporating a QL-like keyboard - complete with Space bar, separate cursor keys, left- and right-hand Shift keys, additional command keys, and a membrane beneath the keyboard.
The first signs of any future development was the announcement that Sinclair Research would be "doubling production of the Spectrum allowing production to ramp up to over 200,000 units per month by the end of the year" (as reported in YS Frontlines issue 7). OK, so we know Sinclair Research has cracked the foreign computer markets of late ... but 200,000 per month?
At a recent 'selected' press meet, Managing Director Nigel Searle was up against a barrage of questions as to what announcements Sinclair Research would be making - just what was its next computer going to look like? Sensing no real meat to the question, Searle threw it back at the audience, "What would you do?". To the rather astute suggestion that it could be "a re-packaged Spectrum with a new keyboard, but maintaining software compatibility", Searle deflected the remark skillfully with another question,
"Why would we want to do that? The
Spectrum's already a successful product
- this new machine would cost around
£149/159 ... does that seem to make
commercial sense to you?". After much
wise shaking of heads from those assembled, the idea was dismissed as
But it's not that ridiculous when you really think about it. OK, the Spectrum's an old product - in terms of computing, it's positively ancient! But that's not to say that it's out of date - the Spectrum is still extremely good value for money and the support it has from software and hardware companies is unbelievable - and that's over two years after its launch.
Think back to the press release announcing the production figures for the Spectrum - 200,000 per month by the end of the year. Now cast your eyes over the illustration we've constructed of the Spectrum+; the casing for it is very similar to that of the QL, so presumably the equipment to manufacture it would only have to be slightly tailored to suit the new machine's dimensions. Is it all beginning to make a bit more sense? Yes, it seems that Sinclair Research could be in the position to not only announce the Spectrum+ over the next few weeks, but also to have some of the devices available for sale immediately!
NOT ON SHOWThe rumours of the new machine were strongest at the PCW Show, where an announcement was supposed to have been made. But the show passed without comment and it is left for Nigel Searle to make the final contribution, "I can't comment on the possibility of a new machine - but I can promise you the Spectrum, in whatever form, will be with us for many years to come." Searle also mentioned the possibility of TV advertising, supposedly over the pre-Christmas period, which will be used to promote Sinclair Research products. Could this be a hint that it's for the Spectrum+? Watch this space for further developments ...