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Castle cooks up another Iyonix special offer

By Chris Williams. Published: 2nd Jun 2005, 16:48:15 | Permalink | Printable

Flogging a dead horse?

Castle have responded to the developer launch of the A9home by offering a "clearout special offer" on the "popular" RISC OS 5 powered Iyonix range.

CTL's Will Ling said, "To make way for a new range of DVD IYONIX pcs, Castle are offering a clearout special offer of their popular 600MHz xScale Panther 512MB/CD-RW model, at the unrepeatable discounted price of UKP 999 (a saving of UKP 400)."

Punters can opt to pay a further 100 quid for a DVD-RW drive, and the offer expires at the end of June 2005. Castle previously slashed the price of an Iyonix in yet another 'special offer' in September 2004, January 2005 and prior to the Wakefield show.


Iyonix website

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I have just noticed that CAstle use the logitwech explorer key board...this is now unavilible for me to purchse for my company....I wonder if they know where to get some from :@P

ooo even more in reach! must save up these pennies and stop the pub ventures.

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 2/6/05 5:31PM
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In what ways is the sub-heading 'Flogging a dead horse?' appropriate? It's still the powerfull (as far as we know) machine available. Cheers!

 is a RISC OS Userfwibbler on 2/6/05 8:16PM
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Perhaps everybody who wants the over-priced thing have already bought one? I keep reading the headline as "Castle cocks up another Iyonix" :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 2/6/05 9:58PM
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fwibbler> For less than the price of an Iyonix you can build a far faster VirtualAcorn based system running a far more functional version of the OS :-)

All these "special" offers really aren't "special" in the slightest. Just yet another month's odd marketing slant.

100quid for a DVD drive that you can buy off the shelf for 35 ? Come on, get real. These ARE commodity items, and as such, people would be insane to pay Castle's prices to own them.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 2/6/05 10:07PM
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Without select on it, even this offer doesn't look too good compared to the A9home.

The A9 is presumably about 2/3 the speed of the Iyonix worst case.

The greater efficiency of Adjust (assuming RO 5 is equivalent to RO 4 in that respect), could mean there is little to choose in performance.

(And that's ignoring graphics acceleration)

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 2/6/05 10:39PM
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Some of the 100 quid goes on the DVDBurn software I would imagine. Still seems a tad pricey though.

 is a RISC OS Userniftybit on 2/6/05 11:35PM
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Ok just think of it like this... The Ionix is a work horse

the A9Home is a play device

TBH I have never been inspired to purchase Select over my RISC OS 3.7 chips, through the lack of anything useful?

and yes I have used it on my Dad's Virtual RISC PC emulator

And an emulator can never fully replace a true box, as your hostage to the underlying OS....in windows XP SP2 case Explorer keeps knocking mine out

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 3/6/05 8:28AM
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Indeed, I don't think the A9Home would fulfill my needs, unlike the Iyonix which does. In order to add CD RW functionality (or DVD R/W), a second hard drive with Linux, a floppy drive, I would have to cover my desk with spaghetti! And with 2 printers and a frequently plugged in digital camera as well, I would need to add a USB hub too! And even if I did get that lot to work reliably, it would still be slower than the Iyonix, and could not support the high screen resolutions I have come to take for granted, and which help make my computing experience so much more pleasant. I think if the choice is between living without the Iyonix's advantages and living without Select (for a while at least) then there is no contest IMO. If you are serious about RISC OS computing, and want to use it for real work, Iyonix is still the only option. And as for emulation - there are some of us that would rather give up computing altogether than buy a Microsoft product!

That being said though, most of the problems I mention could be overcome by suitable packaging. A native RO laptop would be nice, and if the A9Home were packaged as a laptop I could be tempted to get one as a second computer.

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 3/6/05 9:12AM
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Ah, the usual anti-emulation argument that doesn't really stand up in my experience. The emulation route can give you something that's both faster and cheaper, for less money, so unless native hardware solutions move on a bit the native hardware RISC OS machine is doomed. The A9 doesn't completely address this, but it is a very promising step in the right direction.

The worrying about running on top of another OS is largely unfounded, or has little basis other than emotion. I'll admit that Windows does occasionally intrude on my laptop (usually the AV software insisting on bringing itself to the front when it downloads updates), but most of the time I can forget its there. I've never had it crash on me when I've not been using it to do anything other than run VRPC. And now there's a Mac version anyway.

The real reason I won't be buying an A9home is because I bought an Iyonix at Wakefield (thanks to unexpected work bonus).

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 3/6/05 10:19AM
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Bung an optical drive and floppy drive (not yet available?) onto the spec of a base model A9home and how much does it cost? at a guess ukp750 including VAT + delivery?

As for the 'greater efficiency' of Adjust, I haven't seen a full set of (independent) benchmarks for Adjust vs RO4 let alone Adjust vs RO5 (assuming you could take benchmarks for different OSs on different machines and draw any useful conclusions about OS efficiency ;o).

I didn't notice any obvious performance improvements to my SARPC when I ran it with Select (last version used RO4.37) whereas I experience a big increase in performance with the UDMA upgrade on the Iyonix. As I can't find any mention of UDMA for the hard disc access on the A9home website, I wonder if your 2/3 performance of an Iyonix guestimate for an A9home will hold true in practice.

mrtd Indeed. I suspect that the main market for the A9home will be for those upgrading from a Select/Adjust RiscPC who don't need to be able to add extra hard drives or use things like PCITV or Geminus but do want Adjust, a faster machine and bigger screen resolutions.

A special offer Iyonix is indeed not that much more expensive than an A9home with optical drive etc and the Iyonix somewhat more upgradeable. However a base model A9home would save you money if you don't need any extras

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 3/6/05 10:39AM
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em2ac: Why is the Iyonix a workhorse and the A9home a play device? Let's just wait and see when the A9home is reviewed and tested against an Iyonix... I'd rather have native hardware as well, though it is a nice thing VRPC will soon be available for Mac OS X too.

Even though the Iyonix is the most powerful and versatile native box atm, I urge people not to underestimate the powers of the dark side, ehm, I mean the power of the A9home.

Yes, it doesn't have a floppy or optical drive... :) Just connect a DVD burner and upgrade to CDVDBurn. Its screenresolution capabilities will be at least as good as a Viewfinder RPC, I guess. It will no doubt be a lot faster than a KineticRPC. It will run flashable Select/Adjust, which may have welcome advantages to a lot of people (some people absolutely need round, colourful buttons and more cogwheels around their desktop). Biggest advantage will be its price tag ofcourse. It's a sturdy little box, from what I've heard, which is a very important thing in certain applications (such as a gear smashing contest). Besides the A9home is even quieter than Iyonix - it has no fans!

And so, yes, time for competition. Somehow I think those that are already being owned by their Iyonix are the most critical of our new family member. I'm just gonna buy a GBA now... :)

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 3/6/05 10:45AM
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hEgelia, how do you know the screen res of the A9Home will be as good as a Viewfinder? I thought the A9Home went up to 1280x1024x16, and a Viewfinder could do 1600x1200x24 (maybe more?)

I ask because the screen resolution of the A9Home is the only real problem for me.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 3/6/05 11:17AM
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thegman IIRC my 8MB Viewfinder could do 1600x1200 at 32k colours 1440x something at 16m colours. So I'd be a bit surprised if the A9home (with 8MB VRAM) was limited to only 1280x1024x16.

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 3/6/05 11:24AM
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Well, I'm just basing that on the Drobe article which specifies the video chip in the A9Home. That low a resolution would be a real shame as IMHO RISC OS really needs a high resolution to get the most out of it, for reasons like the 'save file' method requires having window(s) open, and there is not advanced window management features like on the Mac or Windows.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 3/6/05 11:33AM
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Stuart had the A9home running 1600 x 1200 at 16M colours at the Wakefield meeting on Wednesday. I doubt anyone would be requiring higher resolution in the near future. ;-) Stuart confirmed that there was no graphics acceleration on the development machine but would be some on the release machine. The Simon project promises more in the future. In the circumstances I don't think anyone is able to make speed predictions at the moment. In any case the overall speed is determined by a range of factors and be seen as different by users with different needs.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 3/6/05 11:33AM
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thegman: Yours isn't the first uninformed comment regarding the A9home video capabilities. I wonder where you're all getting your information from? It's worrying that at least two people to my knowledge have said they won't buy an A9home simply because of some total misinformation they heard on the grapevine about screen resolutions :-/

[link] - ask the people who know!

 is a RISC OS Usertamias on 3/6/05 11:42AM
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According to the website [link] the A9Home will run up to 1600x1200x16 million colours.

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 3/6/05 11:44AM
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flypig: That resolution would do me fine, higher would be nice, but for the money, can't complain.

tamias: The info about the resolution is from: [link]

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 3/6/05 11:48AM
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from the specifications, 1280x1024x16 is for LCD. for CRT, is SXGA(always 1280x1024) BUT 16/32 bpp.

 is a RISC OS Userbernie on 3/6/05 12:29PM
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ok what I meant is people are more likeyly (as the name suggests) to purchase the A9Home for Home, and the Iyonix for work!

@P I want both tbh

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 3/6/05 12:32PM
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There is something strange. Drobe article says that the chip used in A9home is SM501 (limited to 1280x1024, CRT or LCD). But info from Ad6 says they have working 1600x1200. There are two possible choices: or Ad6 made the chip go over factory specifications (improbable) or simply the chip is not SM501. From Silicon Motion products, I infer that the most probable candidate is SM722 (8M internal memory) but I can't see references to display resolutions. Still guessing.

 is a RISC OS Userbernie on 3/6/05 12:38PM
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AFAIR from Stuart the specification given by the manufacturer for LCD screens is for when the chip is providing the signal directly to the screen as an embedded chip rather than through the normal desktop-style route as used by the A9home. The resolution is 1600 x 1200 at 16M colours (for LCD or CRT screens capable of that) and is limited by the VRAM (8) and not the possibly misleading statement in the manufacturer's specs - and all without exceeding the factory specifications.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 3/6/05 1:06PM
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Shouldn't it be Flogging a dead Cat

 is a RISC OS UserPete on 3/6/05 1:49PM
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Interesting how opinions differ. I use my Iyonix for messing around on the web, which it is better than the RPC for, but to do serious work I use an RPC, because the improvements in function in select far outweight the speed improvement.

blahsnr: Select feels faster to me, than RO 4. In fact I find my RPC plays radio stations better than the Iyonix, which I can only put down to the network improvements.

Optical DVDROMs aren't /that/ expensive and I can do without a floppy drive.

I am seriously considering an A9 as a replacement for my Iyonix, (if select for Iyonix doesn't happen soon)

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 3/6/05 3:21PM
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If they can get 1600x1200 out of the graphics chip (8MB VRAM should be plenty of room... :-) ), this will be a fine res to run at.

I run my Iyonix @ 2048x1536 (& yes it does look fab... :-D ) on a 20" LCD but my wife reckons that's too high & runs her Iyonix @ 1600x1200 on a 20" LCD that didn't cost £thousands :rolleyes: & there's still a reasonable amount of desktop room...

Now if £400 came off a base spec Iyonix... ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 3/6/05 3:25PM
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But surely people are missing the point about the A9home. My own POV is that the A9home is not in direct competition with the Iyonix. Where as the Iyonix is aimed at those users who desire to be able to internaly expand their computer in the future and the user who perhaps require a little bit more processing power. The A9home is aimed at the users just requiring an entry level computer; users who do not forsee any need to expand and those who have a smaller budget.

I suppose comparing back to Acorn days, the Iyonix is similar to an A5000 and Risc PC. The A9home is similar to an A30x, A4000 and A7000 ranges. Therefore catering for both ends of the RISC OS market.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 3/6/05 4:36PM
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Good point (of view) sa110.

Still, although the Iyonix has PCI expansion capabilities, do more than just a few supported cards exist? I guess both machines rely more on their USB expansion possibilities, until Castle gets serious about actually getting more support for PCI card drivers. Until then, users may just as well compare the two USB stacks as supported by each machine and consider which offers most compatibility for a given application. As to processor power, yes, the Iyonix will probably be faster in the horsepower department, but I wonder how much faster...

The A9home is a curious computer, considering its size and build. I like it, because I can pack it in my gig back and take it on stage while spilling beer all over it... ;) The A9home will be quite a bit cheaper and does feature 4 USB slots, apart from the standard PS2 slots. Wether it's USB1 or 2, I don't know, but AFAIK the Iyonix is now shipped with USB2 support as standard. I believe it to be fairly certain the A9home will run Select/Adjust when launched, whereas the Iyonix might take another year for it to run Select / Adjust version of RO5.

Anyway, it will surely be interesting how the market develops when this neat little blue box is available.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 3/6/05 5:23PM
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To add something to sa110's POV, it occurs to me that the A9home could be the (almost) perfect companion for a (x86)laptop. They could share some peripherals (I have an ASUS, with external floppy & DVD writer, and USB mouse...).

 is a RISC OS Userbernie on 3/6/05 5:47PM
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sa110> Agreed, the A9 is *not* in competition with Iyonix. The A9 is a good introduction to RISC OS for someone with undemanding requirements and where expansion is *not* a priority. For it's part Castle's special offer is a pretty good one given that it's not the "low end" Iyonix that's on offer (e.g., you ARE getting 512MB of RAM and a CD-RW writer (neither of which is present on the A9 as standard)).

If you were to attempt to bring the A9 anywhere that spec (if that's possible) you'd wind up bringing the prices of the machines within spitting distance (as it were). And the Iyonix would still be faster and more expandible. And hEgelia PCI is *not* the only means of expansion. I'd much rather tuck two extra harddrives into the case than hoik them on via USB the latter option being the only one on the A9.

Given that A9 is *not* ready for general release yet (it's a Developer machine - and the OS has to be finalised) and the Iyonix is ready *now* and at a lower price than heretofore then it may give many people pause for thought. Aside from A9 being interesting in it's own right it has helped move Iyonix prices to a position where some people have taken the plunge - which is no bad thing either IMHO.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 3/6/05 6:32PM
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AMS on a price comparison point. I bought a developer version (anticipating delivery) of the A9home at the show, straight after the AD6 presentation. The price I paid was £640.03. For that I got:-

A9home (to be delivered) External USB DVD/CDRW drive(works well on my small toshiba portege) 2 PSU's (one for A9 one for DVD drive A9 Flight Case RO Adjust 32. Any other apps they supply.

While the current Iyonix offer is £999. For a DVD/CDRW that's and extra £129 making a total of £1128. If you take away the price of a A9home(retail version+£50 on what I've bought) that leaves a price difference of £437.97. So as you can see there is still quite a big price differnce between the two.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 3/6/05 6:50PM
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Ok, I stand corrected.

Still the Iyonix offer does give you half a gig of RAM, an expensive case in which to stick extra drives, a faster xScale. But as with everything in life there are compromises. The gap is still *big* on the price front - but not as *bad* as it was and you're still getting a hell of a machine for 999 GBP (IMHO).

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 03/06/05 7:24PM
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Whilst the Iyonix make offer more expansion, it takes much more desk/floor space then the A9home. For me, for example, the A9home will sit quite nice and neatly in the monitor stand of my 19" TFT, therefore taking up no more deskpace the the monitor itself. My RPC on the other hand is two slice and sits on it's side at the other end of the desk, taking up about the same space as an Iyonix would (no doubt).

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 03/06/05 7:43PM
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To Jess: "to do serious work I use an RPC". Surely it depends what the 'work' is. I used my RPC (Kinetic) regularly for storing and working on digital camera images. Now I have an Iyonix, which takes 28 secs to process an image in ChangeFSI that took the Kinetic 63 secs; it takes 12 secs to load a 24Mb TIFF in DPingScan compared with 40 secs, and 24 secs to rotate it to 45deg compared to 85. 'Slideshow' in Thump runs about as fast with 8Mpix JPEGs as with 2Mpix ones on the Kinetic. The Kinetic by the way has a 'fast' Unipod IDE H/D not the slower motherboard one. On this basis the Iyonix is at least 2-3 times more productive than a top-end RPC for general image processing. As for Select, the Kinetic runs 4.37 and TBH I don't notice much difference - I miss the Bin, and the enhanced Draw and Paint, but that's about all. That's my experience, based on what I do on my machines: others will have a different experience depending on what they do, and that's my point: you can't generalise.


 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 06/06/05 08:53AM
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Thump is an example of where I've been very impressed by the Iyonix. With my StrongARM RiscPC it used to be a case of go and make a cup of tea when it was trying to thumbnail a directory of a couple of dozen of ~1MB JPEGs. VA on my laptop was a lot better (just a few seconds for each), with the Iyonix it's quick enough not to be annoying at all. Mind you, I've had Thump crash on it too, which could either be a problem with it on the Iyonix, or simply because I'm doing more with it because it's so much more usable now.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 06/06/05 3:21PM
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bucksboy Indeed! Similar experience here, more horsepower always good......I use an SARPC now very occasionally for browsing (with Netsurf) and even that feels too slow these days after the Iyonix (which itself feels slow after a mac mini).

I hardly ever use Paint or Draw so the enhancements in Select for me were unimportant. I now miss the bin but purely because the mac we bought recently uses drag and drop to a bin to delete files. Which strikes me as a very RISC OS way of doing things :o)

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 06/06/05 4:02PM
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bucksboy: If you read what I wrote, you'll see it wasn't a generalisation, it was a contrast between different users.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 07/06/05 12:09AM
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