Latest progress and shipping date
It's long due an update, as usual, thanks to the busy team working behind the scenes. The major piece of information everyone is waiting for is the final delivery date for the boards, of course, but there's more going on -- thus it's time for the news!
Huge thanks for your patience and support given the delay with the production of the boards, we know how keen everyone is to get their well deserved Nexts (and how we're in the doghouse for not shipping these in August).
Happy news, though: all the components for production are now delivered, including the elusive RAM sockets which had to be hand-spooled into a reel (all 8,000) in order to go into the automated manufacturing line... We haven't met the good soul who did this, but we are eternally grateful for their dexterous fingers and inexaustible patience.
This week a pivotal all-hands meeting is taking place at the factory, where the final date for the board delivery will be established (and soon afterwards shared), meaning that before the week is over you'll know when your board will be with you (and not long now!) It's just a matter of taking our place in the production queue and then shipping.
Also, you'll be happy to hear we've bought the components for the production of all the Nexts, rather than just the boards' batch, ensuring a lower cost and insulating us from any further fluctuations on the Pound against the Dollar (phew!)
The Next Case and Keyboard
Rick validated the case dimensions and features with a prototype SLA case, meaning it's ready for having the molds produced starting this week. The case and keyboard are being handled by two different companies, and the castings will take place in China before being shipped to the UK for plastic injection.
This process is a logistics nightmare that only the brave and experienced should undertake. It's down to Rick's longstanding know-how that it's being made smoother and efficient, a testimony to his skills.
We're hoping to see the Next full case in the flesh in a couple of months, and I'm sure we speak for all the backers when we say we can't wait to see it!
Manual taking shape
The community push of writing the Next manual, led by Phoebus, is a story on its own right. The sheer dedication, patience and care the editors have been putting into crafting the book is humbling. Their efforts have resulted in a manual that will live up to its hype, leading you through the details and secrets of the Next while retaining the spirit that was born in the original Speccy's tome.
We owe the editors, all from the community, a huge debt of gratitude for their work and energy.
Last dev kits shipped
The very last kits (Issue 2) available are now in the hands of developers working on new games and apps. Together with the previous issues, we've distributed more than 30 kits at no cost to the devs, hoping this leads to a suite of great software to bootstrap the Next scene.
The board batch in production soon will also include another 30 new kits 'Issue 2A' that will follow on the steps of their older simblings, boosting the dev community further.
Stretch Goal: Internet
Victor has been working on implementing the UART into the core of the Next to facilitate it talking to the WiFi module. Our original approach of bit banging into it like the Speccy did back in the day was too unreliable to survive today's standards, and so the UART is born.
The Next already talks to the web via WiFi, connecting to servers anywhere in the world. All we need now is to create the tools for the end users to enjoy it seamlessly and with no coding required. Check out Victor's first test in the video below:
Next update before this week is over, stay tuned!