Time for a mighty update!
It has been a fair while since the wrapping up of the campaign in May, and a lot has happened since. Thus this is time for a mighty update.
Victor and Fabio have stretched their abilities further still, and made the Spectrum Next compatible with the Pentagon -- the Russian version of the Speccy that is currently the standard for all the great games and demos made in Eastern Europe. While this is still work in progress, you can check the Next running some Pentagon software below:
This was the last major compatibility work we kept under wraps to unveil, a much-requested feature from the backers we didn't want to talk about before we achieved success. It's a huge upgrade for the Next, and one we hope will herald yet more great software produced for it.
More Turbo modes
In case you've missed the updates on the website and Facebook community, the Spectrum Next now has two new Turbo modes on top of the original 7MHz: 14 & 28MHz. Again, you can see it in action below:
This makes the Next a 4X faster machine than what was originally backed! Some of the original games are quite interesting to run at full 28MHz speed, but the real advantage will lie on software designed specifically to make use of this extra power.
This is super technical, but in a nutshell it makes access to disk and memory faster. There are endless use cases for this feature, ranging from OS-level improvements to video and music players.
Together with hardware sprites and scrolling background, we can (likely) safely say that it makes the Next the most powerful 8 bits machine ever built. Oh, you haven't seen the background scrolling function yet? Here it is then!
The time for the shipping of the boards is getting close, and we've just started the production of the last test batch of boards, schedule for next week. From there, it's large-scale production and shipping to the backers directly from SMS, the manufacturer.
It hasn't been without its hiccups, though. The RAM upgrade sockets (SOJ) unlocked as a stretch goal during the crowdfunding proved to be a challenge as they're no longer in production. We've tried to locate stock around the world, but it turns out modern RAM is too cheap to justify these upgrade sockets' existence, thus most manufacturers stopped making them years ago. The Next uses expensive, older RAM to keep its compatibility in check, but luckily we've found a manufacturer in the UK who still has the original molds and agreed to run a batch exclusively for us.
We have been hit hard by the constantly falling Pound (all components are quoted in US Dollars), and had our work cut for us in securing the components at better prices in order to keep things within budget. So far we have managed to secure the majority of components for full production, but some have longer lead-times than expected (at the cost we must secure), so it's possible we experience a few weeks of delays down the line. Still, right now, all on track -- don't panic!
We've tested the keyboard samples for the Next and they feel great. Rick and the team are moving to the mold production phase, and we should soon have the first test case fully assembled to show you.
Manual & Box
The community has stepped up to the challenge and joined the group revamping the original manual, expanding it and overall creating a tome of Speccy goodness that will be lovely wrapped in artwork that should make proud owners of the Next very happy. Meanwhile, work on the box is progressing apace, and you can check out the latest iteration below.
That's it for now! Stay tuned for the next update in a week's time with the final production board fully tested showing its teeth.