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RISC World

Hardware Roundup

Dave Bradforth continues the roundup of new RISC OS compatible hardware.

When I first considered this column, it was as a way of bringing to light hardware that has the potential to become available to RISC OS users. As it turns out, this month we've got a number of relevant items to cover, the initial two of which are RISC OS products from RISC OS suppliers. Cant be bad, eh.

Windfall Engineering to close

Realistically, it's a sign of the times. John Kortink, author of Creator and Translator; and designer of the Viewfinder card for Risc PC users, has announced that Windfall Engineering (responsible for the distribution of the Viewfinder card) is to close. As a result, the Viewfinder has been reduced in price as a final clearance.


A Viewfinder card

What the Viewfinder hardware essentially does is to sidestep some of the restrictions of the Risc PC video system by building an AGP graphics card into a standard RISC OS podule.

This allows RISC OS users to overcome the VRAM limits of RISC OS, and hence gain access to desktops of up to 4096 x 1536 pixels. across two monitors, at a 16 million colour screen depth. A Radeon-based card will allow you to plug your computer into a TV as well as your monitor too. The advantage of using such a system to implement improved graphics performance is that it essentially sidesteps processor limitations, but the more memory you have in your computer the better use you can make of the increased screen resolution. And it's unlikely that you'll pay much for a lot of memory anyway.

As a part of their closing down deal, Windfall have knocked 50 Euro off the price of each Viewfinder; so realistically you can get the top end kit at 250 Euro instead of 300 Euro. For further details, or to order, visit www.windfall.nl, but be quick, as you wont have long after this issue of RISC World is published.

Thermal Dye Printing from Stuart Tyrell Developments

Just before the RISC OS Southwest Show, Stuart Tyrell Developments announced the release of drivers for the Kodak Printer Dock 6000. The Kodak Printer Dock 6000 employs a continuous tone thermal dye transfer technique to produce extremely high quality edge-to-edge prints on specialised card, beyond those available from traditional inkjet technology. It may be used with any Kodak 6000 series camera, or can be directly attached to the USB port of a RISC OS machine.

The printer is supplied complete with a starter pack of media (card and dye), mains adaptor, and drivers for Windows and RISC OS computers. The RISC OS drivers (which coincidentally include a Pdumper module written by Castle Technology Technical Director John Balance) are suitable for both the Castle Iyonix USB and Simtec USB interfaces.

Stuart Tyrell Developments are selling the printer, including RISC OS drivers, for £199 fully inclusive; or the RISC OS drivers by themselves for £19 inclusive. For further information, visit the website at www.stdevel.com/easydock.html.

Castle launch the X100 an Iyonix PC in a flat box

We'll quote this straight from the announcement we hope to have a little more detail about this computer in the next issue of RISCWorld.

"The IYONIX X100 features an nVidia GeForce video card, a choice of CD reader/writer, hard drives with capacities up to 120GB, and a range of memory options using 200MHz DDR memory. The IYONIX X100 also features a 3.5" FDD and built in 7 in 1 memory card reader (option), together with two front mounted USB ports, headphone and microphone sockets. Other features include a Gigabit network port, screen modes up to 2048 x 1536, a 250W power supply, front mounted reset and front mounted 'on' switch. Performance of the X100 is the same as the IYONIX pc and runs the same version of RISC OS, but the X100 does not feature the legacy Podule bus. However future expansion is catered for by two low-profile PCI expansion slots accessed from the rear of the computer.

"The size of the X100 is ideal for installation on desktops and is strong enough to allow a wide range of monitors to be placed on the X100. The X100 dimensions are just 105mm high, 325mm wide and 430mm deep. Prices for the IYONIX X100 start at just GBP £1249 including vat. The X100 also features a rich bundle of ready to use software including a Web Browser, a Word compatible word processor, a spreadsheet and a host of other applications and utilities."

Essentially, it sounds like if you have a requirement for a desktop case version of the Iyonix PC; and can live without the legacy podule bus, the X100 should be your port of call. For information, visit www.iyonix.com.

Trust 962z Digital Camera

Elsewhere in this issue, we've reviewed a mighty powerful set of speakers from Trust. Here we've got a digital camera, I've moved this into this roundup because we'll be going into more detail in the next issue of RISCWorld, as part of a largescale feature on USB.

When I last took a serious look at the cameras offered by Trust Computer Products, it has to be said they were more on the cheap and cheerful side and less on the quality side. In fact, the first cameras from Trust were billed as webcams with the ability to take still photographs; and even thinking of connecting them to RISC OS would have brought howls of laughter. However with Simtec's USB card now on the market, you can plug in cameras such as the 962Z reviewed here and treat the camera as an external hard disc; allowing for images to be copied off of the camera straight into your favourite graphics application with ease... although you should copy the files to your hard disc first.


The Trust 962z

As far as specifications go, this offering from Trust fares pretty well. It's the first digicam I've seen from Trust that doesn't aim to double as a webcam, and it has to be said that the initial look and feel of the camera is very much like that of a Kodak or Olympus offering. A cheap Kodak or Olympus offering, but you see my point. Key features of the camera are:

  • Digital camera with 3.1 Megapixel Sony CCD sensor and 4.0 Megapixel camera resolution.
  • Auto focus lens with 12x zoom function (3x optical zoom and extra 4x digital zoom).
  • 4cm colour TFT LCD display for live viewfinder, zoom preview, review pictures and menu functions.
  • 16MB memory built-in and expandable with optional SD memory card.
  • Video recording option (including sound) and video output to review pictures/videos on TV.

Technical Specifications:

  • Digital camera with high 3.1 (2048 x 1536) Megapixel sensor resolution.
  • Camera resolution 4.0 Megapixel (2272 x 1704).
  • Highly sensitive Sony CCD optical sensor.
  • Auto focus lens with 3x optical zoom and extra 4x digital zoom function.
  • 4cm colour TFT LCD display for live viewfinder, zoom preview, review pictures and menu functions.
  • Up to 80 pictures (1280 x 960) or 77 seconds of video with audio if using built-in 16MB memory.
  • Memory expandable up to 512MB with optional SD memory card.
  • Make sharp macro pictures at 20cm
  • White balance settings for daylight, indoor and automatic setting.
  • Built-in flash with options: on/off, automatic, slow sync, fill-in and red-eye reduction.
  • 4x digital zoom to capture pictures and review pictures.
  • Microphone included to capture video with audio.
  • Add audio recording/messages to pictures after they are photographed.
  • DPOF supported to print pictures on your printer without computer.
  • Video output to review pictures on TV.
  • 10 seconds self-timer with acoustic and visual notification.
  • Product size (HxWxD in mm): 72 x 104 x 53.

Package contents:

  • Camera
  • USB cable
  • Video output cable
  • Batteries (2x AA Duracell Ultra)
  • Protective carry bag
  • Hand strap
  • Tripod stand
  • CD-ROM with Windows drivers, software for Windows and Mac OS.
  • Multi language user's manual

Incorporating an LCD viewfinder, allowing you to frame your shot before taking it, this 4 megapixel offering produced very good quality shots (samples of which are provided below) but suffered in that the lighting in the environment very much affected what you could see through the viewfinder. I realise that this was much to be expected, but it did have a noticeable effect on the final image it seemed like the flash and viewfinder were out of proportion to each other.


Jasper investigates the new camera


Look at my nose...

The fact I was able to access the images on this camera immediately through Mac OS X without installing software allows us to say for definite RISC OS owners of a Simtec USB card should already fare quite well, but wait till next issue for a definitive answer to this. Further details are available at www.trust.com, but the camera is available from most PC retailers for around £149.00

Coming up next time

In the next issue, we're going to go for a big USB feature; illustrating how well off the shelf USB accessories will integrate with the average RISC OS users desktop. In the same issue, we'll feature more of the latest kit from Trust Computer Supplies, a printer review and an explanation of the conflicting standards for USB offered by RISC OS suppliers.

Dave Bradforth

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