Brutte notizie per la carrozzeria in plastica del Next ... speriamo bene! :-(
Prossimo aggiornamento previsto tra 15 giorni.
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Data: 2 aprile 2018 01:17:20 CEST
Oggetto: Project Update #26: ZX Spectrum Next by Henrique Olifiers
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April update: plastics troubles, a keyboard look, box, SD cards and games
Posted by Henrique Olifiers (Creator)
You are likely to have noticed the conspicuous absence of the promised mould
pictures of the Next case that would have come in ‘a couple of weeks’ since
our last update, allowing you to follow the progress of the plastics
production. Well, there has been none -- our plastics manufacturer dropped
the project last week (Mar 26th) without much of an explanation (our contact
there is also absent from the company), and we’re in talks with a couple new
partners with the help of the nice folks at SMS.
Myself, Phil (Rick Dickinson’s partner) and the SMS team are going through
diligence since last week to find a replacement plastics company that can hit
the ground running, picking up from where we’ve been left. If all goes well,
we’ll have someone working on the case soon after the Easter holidays.
Failing that, we’ll turn East towards some friends who can speed up things
and offset some of the delay we’re caused so far.
We’re deeply sorry for letting the backers down with all this delay on the
plastics. We’re as eager as you to put our hands on the cased Next, and it’s
very disappointing we’re not there yet. Regardless of the cause for the
delay, it’s our (particularly mine) responsibility to get things on time, and
we’ve been failing on the plastics. We’re turning the ship around to bring it
back on course -- and from this update onwards, we’ll keep you posted every
two weeks with whatever news we have on the case production. We’ll get this
done, and done well, fear not.
Speaking of putting our hands on the Next, while the original intention was
to have keyboard and case produced in parallel for saving on storage costs
(thus the keyboard was on hold), we’re moving ahead with it right away.
Little has been shared about how the keys will feel and move, so here is a
tear-apart of the reference keyboard for the Next. This is the same mechanism
and manufacturer of the final Next keys.
A look of the innards of the reference keyboard
The butterlfy mechanism showing its 'travel'
One of the most important aspects of the keyboard is the ‘travel’ and the
acknowledgement of contact -- the ‘click’ of the keyboard indicating the key
has been successfully pressed. Rick’s brief was for a butterfly mechanism,
with high bandwidth (ie. the ability to type fast, precisely), with good
keypress feedback. This is an art: it’s super easy to get it wrong... For
instance, there has been some criticism of the latest MacBook short key
travel (it doesn’t move much when pressed) and other mainstream laptops, a
trend of compromising feel in order to make things slimmer.
Since the Next is not a laptop, we can indeed afford more travel as height is
not an issue for us. Here’s the result:
► Play video
The Next keyboard feels satisfying already, and its feeling should be boosted
by the domed-shaped keys, inherited from the Spectrum Plus design, that
should ’hug’ the tip of the fingers.
While things have been disappointing on the plastics front, the Next
community has been living up to its reputation of being the coolest and most
active Speccy group out there, and cranking out more games and apps for our
much loved computer.
Team Rusty Pixel (the folks behind the amazing Warhawk) released a new text
scrolling demo that showcase what the Next’s graphics chip is capable of. If
you have a board (or emulator), you can download it here, or watch the Scroll
Nutters video below:
Another interesting demo is the Bad Apple version for the Next. Bad Apple has
been around for many years, being ported for several platforms (from Gameboy
to Megadrive to C64), and now it’s in the Next! Check out how smooth it plays
it back, plus how the 3xAY chips handle the tune:
No computer is complete without its Breakout incarnation, thus Lampros
Potamianos released Nextoid!, and kindly included the game on the official
Next SD distribution. It can be found in all firmware distros since 0.8B --
and it plays as great as it looks.
Nextoid!, in a Next SD card near you...
A bit older (dating back from late January), but worth showcasing for
whomever missed it back then as it’s double-incredible: Dan Birch housed his
Next board into a laptop case he designed and 3D printed. It’s a work of art
A Next laptop. Now where's my 3D printer?
Check out Dan’s blog with some more details on how the case came to be here.
Box update: final round
Back on the production track, the box is signed off and on its way to the
printers. The credit goes to Alfredo Tato (the designer) and Mike Cadwallader
(producer), who created a beautiful package for the backers. It will be
housed in a discreet common cardboard box to protect it, plus keep Speccy
envy at bay for anyone transporting it to your home.
If this is not the coolest Speccy box ever, I'll eat it.
Adam Cummings, hot after Dungeonette, is already working on a new title --
Deltastar: Earth Defence. It’s great to see physical software being made for
the Next, make sure you keep tabs on his website to order the games once they
go live in May.
Lovely to see physical software for the Next!
Adam going full Willy Wonka with a golden ticket
SD cards on their way to England
Lastly, Djordje Mitic is helping us source the SD cards in China. After much
samples testing from Phoebus Dokus and the team, the cards have been
validated and are being purchased in Shenzhen. The SDs will be filled with
Next content back at SMS’s plant during assembly, just prior to packaging and
shipping. Actually, most Nexts (the Accelerated model) will feature two cards
-- one for the Next and one for the accelerator, featuring early code for its
And that’s it for now. Next update, April 15th on the dot so you know what’s
new with the plastics and keyboard. Stay tuned!
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