Welcome to the future…
Not a world of high tech robots, AI computers or flying cars. No. This is a future where people continually launch crowd funding campaigns to create machines from 30 YEARS AGO! Jesus god.
The Recreated ZX Spectrum, Spectrum Vega, Vega+, The 64, The Chameleon… Ahem, yeah, let’s skip over that one.
So what’s next?
Well, it’s the Spectrum NEXT (see what I did there).
And damn, does it look good!
This time, a little company called SpecNext Ltd has jumped in and blown us away with a design straight from Rick Dickinson, designer of the original machines. A quick search on companies house shows Carlos Henrique OLIFIERS as the sole director, presumably the same Henrique as co-founder of Bossa Studios, and £1,000 of capital has been used to establish the company – which is a fair amount really, most companies establish themselves with a nominal pound of capital.
So far we’ve apparently had a launch show, there’s a Facebook group setup by Victor Trucco and we’ve got the tantalising images drawn up in 3D Studio Max on the website, and boy, do they look good. Based on the Spectrum+ or Spectrum 128+ rather than the rubber keyed incarnation, it’s something to behold. The +128k was always my favourite machine, and even though this model lacks the familiar toast-rack grill, it does have some funky colouring down the side – just imagine if they lit up as well – Ooooooooo.
Compared to “The 64”, this looks the nuts, but then the original Speccy blew the 64 out of the water in terms of aesthetics, so you can only work with what you’ve got.
Having a poke around in the documentation, this machine claims to be based on FPGA Altera Cyclone hardware, and is therefore modelled on the original Z80 architecture, rather than simply emulating it through software. It’s got an expansion slot on the back which should be compatible with most of the original accessories – which is pretty damn marvellous – Mic and ear ports, allowing you to hook up your favourite WH Smith tape deck and run your old games, a 9 pin joystick port compatible with interface 1 or 2 protocols (ignore the Atari Joystick, I’m not sure what that’s doing there) and a whole heap of more up to date additions, including FM sound (probably in a similar vein to the Turbosound FM), an SD slot, RGG, VGA and HDMi out, 512KB of RAM, a double speed 7MHz mode so that games like Driller, Total Eclipse and Elite can really shine and an accelerator board offering GPU, 1GHz CPU and additional RAM – imagine the Knight Lore maps you could have with that!
It looks like the keyboard will be based on membranes, and so remaining true to the original + feel, which I love myself, however if you’re one of these modern freaks then there’s also PS/2 port that can provide Kempston emulation or be used for an external keyboard.
The +4, ahem, sorry, Next, should also be capable of simulating most of the Spectrum models along with the Jupiter Ace, ZX80, 91 and even machines like the TK95. So that’s nice.
You can find out more in Sinclair Ferranti’s re-cap video, or dive into the Sinclair4Ever Facebook group. I’m sure there’ll be lots of talk about it in there. I’ve also linked the official group and site for the Next below.
To me, this genuinely looks like it could be good. I’m more excited about this than The 64, mainly because it’s a Spectrum, and it seems to be offering more of a retro experience, especially with that expansion port emulation. There’s no crowd funding campaign yet, but the technology promises to be Open Source, which is always a winner in my book.
If you want to stay posted on my updates for this machine, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook or just subscribe. In any case, thank you for watching, and good night!