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Wakefield 2006 theatre preview

By Chris Williams. Published: 27th Apr 2006, 01:45:29 | Permalink | Printable

A9 Bluetooth in Manchester appearance

Wakefield show banner


The Wakefield show presentation timetable was published yesterday, outlining what punters can expect to hear from leading RISC OS companies and developers. The theatre talks give speakers a chance to tout their products and hype up their business for the eager crowds.

Announcing the list, show organiser Chris Hughes said: "Each presentation will be 45 minutes long, approximately. Entrance is free, but there will only be approximately 80 seats available."

At 10.30am, AdvantageSix will be demonstrating their A9home which is hoped to be ready for an official public launch in time for the event. The product has so far been released to a select number of paying beta testers. Ad6 expect to do a short introduction on the status of the ARM9-powered device and take questions from the floor, including testing applications suggested by punters. This evening, Matt Edgar of Ad6 practiced his talk at a user group in Manchester, knowing that his previous talk at Wakefield 2005 was somewhat deflated by what Matt describes as nerves and a lack of sleep following last minute show preparations.

During the user group presentation, Matt showed off a A9 machine with Bluetooth support. The custom A9 unit, designed for a specific OEM client, was housed in a painted red box of similar size to the A9home but with extra slots and an aerial for the radio based Bluetooth chipset. The lucky handful present this evening saw Matt demo the machine with a wireless Bluetooth keyboard; the system is eventually expected to work with mobile phones, potentially tying into the suggestion of A9s being employed in museum exhibitions and similar situations where people can interact with them. The desktop A9home won't ship with this functionality, unless there is a demand for it from the RISC OS userbase. Supporting Bluetooth dongles is a possibility, although Ad6 fear that manufacturers could vary the chipset in Bluetooth dongle models without noticeably altering the packaging - causing RISC OS driver software to suddenly become incompatible when new electronics are subtle introduced. By fixing a known Bluetooth chipset to a A9 motherboard, Ad6 can be sure the driver software will always been compatible.

Matt said earlier today the A9home was going through the final stages of testing, and that they are close to launching the product provided no show stopping bugs are discovered. Any remaining faults fixed between now and the launch will go out to testers in a second Flash ROM update.

He said: "As far as I'm concerned, the A9home is finished and ready. However, I'm too close to the development process to say otherwise, so it's down to our beta testers to give it the green light. Also, our retail partner, CJE Micros, have to approve it too.

"There won't be any tears if the A9home isn't launched at Wakefield - it will be available when it's ready and we've always said that."

RISC OS 5 developers Castle will at 11.30am be doing their usual presentation of Iyonix cases and add ons - although CTL's Jack Lillingston promised to do something different to avoid boring people. His talk will otherwise cover the range of Castle products available at the moment, and if there were any new items planned for release at Wakefield, he certainly wouldn't reveal the details ahead of time. The company recently moved premises to Suffolk, after the year long lease on the Cambridge offices once used by Tematic ran out.

Jack said a formal update to the C/C++ compiler tools is due shortly, drawing on project work for commercial customers. Castle's engineers are understood to be working on RISC OS on a freelance basis, while Castle continue to support what they call the "enthusiasts market".

At 1pm, RISCOS Ltd's Paul Middleton will be running through details of the state of Select 4 and 32bit RISC OS 4; the former being ROL's belated update to the Select scheme, and the latter being the operating system on the A9home. Paul described publishing a release of Select 4 in time for the show as being "very tight", and punters shouldn't assume there will be CDs ready to take away from the event. His company had earlier hoped for a release in May.

He said: "It's likely we'll have a basic working version at the show for people to try out. We can only make do with what resources we have; we sadly don't have the luxury to assign, say, five or 10 people to a particular feature and tell them to get on with it."

"This is a completely new version of RISC OS 4, what with the 32 bit conversion work and the kinds of protections [against a badly behaved program taking out the whole system] that we've wanted in the OS since day one."

The complete Select 4 feature list is yet to be fully drawn up, as various components are finished and tested although parts of the confirmed list have been previously reported on Drobe. Earlier, ROL told its Select subscribers that the RISC OS 4.39 Adjust ROM will be the last ROM chipset release for RiscPC and A7000-class machines.

Paul said: "This is because the availability of suitable ROMs is now very limited, and the expected lifespan of the remaining RiscPCs has to be limited. All future updates for 26 bit machines will be softloaded ROMs."

Paul went on to say: "A new full set of programmers' reference manuals for RISC OS 4 and Select features has been in production for some time, however as may be expected, it is a considerable undertaking.

"Our policy with PRM information on RISC OS 4 features is that a number of documents have been released on the Select web site and we really expect that developers who want to use Select features will actually have a copy of Select on which to test them. We try to deal with all enquiries from developers who want specific information about the inner workings of Select."

At 2pm, Martin Wuerthner of MW Software will be demonstrating his recent development work on ArtWorks 2. The vector graphics software is expected to include real time graduated fills by the time of the event's opening, and Martin is known for his lively presentations of his work.

He said: "Most proabably, the theatre talk will be another tutorial-like session that shows how to use ArtWorks 2 to create an illustration, plus of course a demonstration of both newly released and yet-to-be-released features."

Finally, at 3.15pm, Qercus editor John Cartmell will be giving a presentation titled 'Back on track' - which we assumed referred to his attempts to bring his magazine back onto a monthly schedule after disappearing for six months without leave. However, John intends instead to wax lyrically about the state of the RISC OS market, specifically its future and how, presumably, it's 'getting back on track'.

When we spoke to John, he refused to comment on the likely contents of his presentation ("stonewalling", by his own definition), although later cracked that he hasn't prepared anything for it specifically as yet. John says he has watched how the platform has evolved over the past three years, and therefore has a few ideas on the directions in which it's heading. The next issue of Qercus will be out in time for the show, although it won't cover what he plans to talk about at the show. In John's words, "you'll know what my talk is about when I start talking."

• If you plan on going to the show and want to contribute to drobe.co.uk's coverage of the event, drop us an email.

Links

Wakefield show website

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Discussion

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Would there be: a) the technical possiblitiy of putting chipset Advantage 6 are using for its Bluetooth connectivity onto a PCI card with driver for machines like the Iyonix? b) a market for such a device?

If a) is possible, then I would be willing to buy it, especially if I got then buy software to syncronise the contents of my SonyEricsson P910i with my Iyonix.

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 27/4/06 10:00AM
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Chris' professional questioning and reportage makes you appreciate that newspaper headlines claiming 'Minister said, "xxx"' are likely to be so much rubbish. I could send an article to put Chris right (or 'back on the tracks') but drobe doesn't pay NUJ rates or, as Chris complained in a recent interview, "We are not the News of the World".

For anyone staying to the end of the theatre presentations I will be talking about the new future of the RISC OS market but have no intentions of turning it into poetry or setting it to music! ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 27/4/06 10:35AM
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"eventually expected to work with mobile phones", in theory, I suppose. Other than the demonstrated keyboard, Ad6 were refusing to say anything about any other devices.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 27/4/06 11:05AM
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SimonC:

For artifact1571.html, I spoke to Ad6 about the Bluetooth support, and keyboards and mobile phones were on the list.

JC:

If there're any inaccuracies in the article then let me know. Otherwise mincing about NUJ rates or whatever is just confusing and shows a profound lack of understanding in how it all works. Sorry.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 27/4/06 11:10AM
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"For anyone staying to the end of the theatre presentations I will be talking about the new future of the RISC OS market but have no intentions of turning it into poetry or setting it to music!"

No poetry or even music? A pity. The new future he says, what happened to the old one, eh? Oh, wait, yes that future has already come to pass in the past. People want to hear about Qercus, John, and what's keeping you. Get that Back on Track, others are looking after the OS.

Keeping my fingers crossed for the A9home. Still, if it doesn't manage to get released at Wakefield, there's a fair chance it might at the Dutch Expo.. :) Let's hope Castle has a surprise in store, but I'm not keeping my fingers crossed on this one!

It's a logical and necessary move RO4.39 was the last ROM for them olde Acorn boxes, aside from ROM availability. I hope Wakefield will shed some more light on what Select 4 will provide, in layman's terms please, but I expect it will offer some of the new 'protections' also included in Adjust 32, ie. 32 bit RISC OS 4. (I hope I have the naming right now, bit confusing...).

Martin Wuerthner? Who's that? ;)

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 27/4/06 11:40AM
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Chris: I'm sure we agree that you shouldn't have raised the matter of NUJ rates in the first place. It's obviously out of place in this field even if it serves as a sausage with which to beat you. :-)

And whilst the only bluetooth device that Ad6 actually demonstrated running on an A9 last night was the incredible projected keyboard they did say that their presentation at Wakefield would be different - and RONWUG made that clear before last night's meeting.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 27/4/06 11:51AM
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What a shame that the A9home theatre presentation is so early - I can't get there till after 11, so I'll miss it. Perhaps they'll be kind enough to give me a personal demonstration at their stand. That's really the only thing I want to see: I know Artworks updates are always worth buying without having to see a demonstration.

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 27/4/06 12:31PM
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Its a shame RISCOS Ltd will not it seems have "Select 4" ready for Wakefield as I for one would have bought it there and then, they potentially could have made a fair bit of money on the day I would have thought, but I expect they have worked out it's is not worth putting in more resources now just to get lots of early sales at the show.

 is a RISC OS UserPete on 27/4/06 2:45PM
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My train is due in Wakefield at 10:15, so hopefully it will be on time and I can rush straight into the Adv6 presentation! There's always the chance it could be repeated at 4pm, or maybe all the theatre times could be pushed back 30 mins to allow more time for people to arrive.

 is a RISC OS Userhelpful on 27/4/06 5:46PM
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Pete: I don´t suppose RISCOS Ltd. have the choice to add more resources than are currently working on Select 4; it´s not like a large company where you might be able to reallocate some people from another project. Adding new people at this late stage would probably just make it later anyway (see Brooks´ "The Mythical Man Month" for details). I´m sure they´re doing the best they can, and they didn´t say they wouldn´t make it!

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 27/4/06 5:48PM
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I think it's fair to say the market is getting itself "back on track", albeit in a slow manner. ROL has made the sensible decision to focus on developing for latest-gen hardware, we've got an exciting new machine about to be released, amongst other exciting developments. Probably the biggest thing now is to make sure any more software developers don't leave the market - the market will never truely grow unless we can attract new ones.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 28/4/06 3:56AM
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I agree with timephoenix. This is sounding positive. The last 18 months or so has been spent rebuilding the foundations of RISC OS so that it supports more modern hardware. That work has made new hardware like the A9 possible. Lets hope that the A9 sells well and many of those buyers also purchase a copy of Artworks to run on it. That would give JC something to write about and then everyone would be happy :-)

 is a RISC OS Userknutson on 28/4/06 9:00AM
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timephoenix: I think the first step is to consolodate all those current users who are relying on machines that cannot be upgraded to RO4 - and getting them to buy 'current' hardware, then those using RiscPCs and earlier. Doing that successfully - by showing them that a much better alternative is available - will generate enough income for hardware and software developers. Then we need to tackle niche areas where RISC OS can make some headway.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 28/4/06 9:07AM
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Does the A9 Home Adjust 32 still supports and runs 26 bit software?

I had been on ROL site looking for that info.

If it still supports 26 bit and is heading towards all those positive enlightenments, it is looking very nice there.

The A9 Home (little blue box) image on the ROL site sure looks small like an illusion or that the computer is missing! (meaning the little blue box is mistaken as the modem).

An interesting thought, the A9 home with nice modern hardware support (& software?) could have a great future in the market with people who wish to get rid of those ugly big unsightly computer boxes sitting on the office desk?

It sounds a bit technical how Castle define the "freelance" market of RO to the "enthusiasts" market, I guess the enthusiastic market is the "bread & butter" that keeps us alive? :-)

Steve.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 28/4/06 9:50AM
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Sawadee: The A9 Home uses a processor without a 26 bit mode, so directly, it doesn't run 26 bit software. There's the Aemulor option for that, if you need it. It's not to do with which version of RISC OS it's running.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 28/4/06 10:21AM
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Sawadee: No, like all RISC OS computers with a 32-bit-mode-only processor the A9Home cannot run 26-bit software natively.

There is a version of Aemulor for the A9Home that emulates 26-bit software, but it is significantly slower than emulation on the Iyonix because Aemulor/Iyonix uses special XScale features to speed the emulation up a lot.

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 28/4/06 10:22AM
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Thanks for those tips.

I was not aware that the A9 Home could run a version of the Aemulor that is used on the Iyonixs.

I had !Sibelius7 music software in mind, I also would need to set up an external MIDI if I were to consider the A9 Home?

There appears to be not much room inside these little A9 Home boxes.

Steve.

--

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 28/4/06 11:47AM
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Im realy looking forward to the A9 release, it will be nice to start using RISC OS full time again, which iv not done since I got my Windows PC about 5 years ago.

 is a RISC OS UserMikeCarter on 28/4/06 12:07PM
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Sawadee: I'm hoping to demo MelIDI running on the A9 at Wakefield, i.e. with fully 32-bitted MIDI modules etc. I'll make a formal announcement nearer the time, still a few things to sort out.

 is a RISC OS Userliquid on 28/4/06 12:12PM
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Sawadee>The Aemulor on A9 is not quite the same - as Martin pointed out the Aemulor that runs on the A9Home lacks the xScale optimisations that would add to the speed (additionally the A9's ARM9 is clocked slower than the Iyonix's IOP321/xScale CPU).

Of course such considerations are only really of importance in running "legacy" code, 32bit code on both platforms would perform probably closer than the simple clock rate difference would suggest (as ever though we'll need to see definitive benchmarks to determine how much difference and what sort of software best uses both platforms).

Mike>Please remember the A9Home is not the only show in town - the Iyonix (cube being the nearest in price and size to the A9) appears compeditively priced and can do some things the A9 can't (won't). If size is you primary requirement (or you simply must have Select features) then the A9 would be preferable - for everything else the Iyonix (IMHO) is the better choice.

Pity I can't make it to the show - sounds like it'll be a doozer ....

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 28/4/06 1:09PM
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AMS: I like the idea of having an Iyonix as the main machine, but with an A9 set up as an unobtrusive setup in another room, networked to the Iyonix. Its small size would seem to be ideal for a secondary machine. The problem is that I've not worked out what I would do with such an arrangement! Music, perhaps. Now its got sound, what's the quality like? Better than the Iyo?

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 28/4/06 1:16PM
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Yes I did get Martin's point before about the Iyonix's speed.

There are certainly some great choices coming up lately. :-)

Simon, your idea of an A9 for another machine is a good thought too.

For me, the A9 "could" just about do as a laptop for me at school and home, where I just plug the keyboard, mouse and whatever else I may need... (or bluetooth? :-) ) ..... into that little blue (A9) box.

Steve. --

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 28/4/06 1:22PM
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In reply to liquid:

I have never used Bluetooth or know much about it, is it possible for an A9 external 32 bit MIDI Module to run with MelIDI?

Steve.

--

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 28/4/06 1:28PM
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Sawadee:

Yes, I'm using an external Yamaha MIDI module at the moment. Nothing to do with Bluetooth though, the MIDI will use either the serial or USB ports (when I've done the USB drivers!). Of course the code will also run on the Iyonix too.

 is a RISC OS Userliquid on 28/4/06 2:31PM
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I imagine the A9 with MIDI would be of interest to many people. Nice small device with MIDI, quick boot time and low electronic noise would have appeal outside the normal RISC OS world. Atari had a good slice of the MIDI market years ago mainly because the Atari ST came with MIDI as standard. Anyone care to comment on the state of MIDI on RISC OS these days?

 is a RISC OS Userknutson on 29/4/06 5:19AM
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Hi Steve

Interesting and a good point there about the A9 and MIDI being of interest to people into the music side of computers.

It seems to me that most 'normal' day to day computer users just need and use MP3 and music as such on their computers.

MIDI looks to be outside the normal music requirements for the average computer person?

I often talk to people about MIDI and most people I talk to do not really use MIDI or are not sure how MIDI can be used really.

MIDI under RISC OS is used with !Sibelius as import and export of !Sibelius, and other software.

Steve.

--

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 29/4/06 7:20AM
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SimonC>I haven't heard the sound of the A9 (but then I haven't even seen an A9Home - and not being able to make it to the show (drats) won't either).

Computers generally (I include PC's, Iyonixes and in all probability A9 as well) generally *don't* give the best sound quality. It is usually desireable to use a D/A outside the PC/Computer case to do the conversion (this cuts down on RFI/Interference also onboard computer D/A's are not exactly top-drawer in the performance sense). I use a PC with an S/PDIF output (optical out) to drive a Hi-Fi Amp - in those circumstances the sound is excellent (the sound eminating from the D/A output in the PC directly in contrast is at best described as "adequate"). Can't honestly comment on the Iyonix sound - as I usually listen to CD's on it from the CD Drive headphone socket (bypasses the sound system - and this is usually the *best* way to listen to CD's on ANY computer).

Computers are computers they don't generally do sound to "audiophile" standards, nor should they be expected to do so. If you demand such things then you need a computer with an S/PDIF connection to a good hi-fi amp. Sadly no-one has yet produced the small/simple interface required to connect the Iyonix Motherboard S/PDIF sound header to the outside world (ho hum!).

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 29/4/06 5:59PM
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Sawadee: Many PC/Mac-owning musicians will buy music keyboards that connect via a USB cable, but they're still using what is, for all intents and purposes, a MIDI setup. (I've seen very few that are USB only) In this respect, USB is merely a replacement for the dedicated serial cable system of 5-10 years ago that many synthesisers still have.

Also, for someone who is hoping to record what they're playing on eg: a Yamaha keyboard, they would find MIDI ports already on all but the most basic keyboards, ready to go.

The question becomes: what kind of MIDI support can RISC OS handle? My preference would be support for the USB-MIDI interface boxes like those made by Midiman; a range of similar devices with various levels of expandability from 1xIN, 1xOUT to 8xIN/OUT and above. I would say this is the most logical progression from the Parallel-MIDI interfaces used in the past, which would incur minimal outlay for a musician looking to upgrade (a 2xIN, 2xOUT interface is under 40UKP) and hopefully enable the widest range of supported devices for the least amount of duplicated work from a coding point of view.

Of course, currently, my RISC PC is my music machine, as I have 2 or 3 ways of getting audio into and out of it, which currently rely on podules (or parallel port gubbins) I can't put in anything else!

I'm *very* interested in Alan Gibson's semi-announcement above, and I'm hoping to get to Wakefield this year, but with Canterbury this weekend, and Manchester on the 22nd, I'm running out of weekends in May. Such is life

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 29/4/06 6:35PM
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Personally, I find that audio recording is also very useful for musicians. The ability to lay down and overdub tracks is such a useful tool for documenting your ideas, especially in a band setting. Many guitarists and drummers, for example, would not bother with MIDI as it is requires rather complicated / expensive setups.

AMS: I usually play my CDs using Winamp, which uses Digital Audio Extraction & a Sonic Engine. The quality is a lot better than analogue playback from my CD drive, and even some low-end component CD players - and I've only got an onboard Crystal chipset. I'm clueless of the technical reasons, though.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 30/4/06 5:53AM
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Well, well - the subject of audio and MIDI on RISC OS, my speciality :)

This is where one interested in these matters definitely should look - [link]

Lenny of MIDIWays has done a lot for MIDI under RISC OS, and if it wasn't for him, I would not still be sequencing and recording under RISC OS today!

If Alan releases 32 bit MIDI and MIDISupport modules, new drivers for USB interfaces and a 32 bit MelIDI - all would be fine. Combined with the A9home you'd have something very nice indeed. Producers like to have a quiet studio when recording and the A9home really is as quiet as they come.

However it needs to be said that MIDI and audio sequencing under RISC OS is dated as it is, since practically all other platforms, Linux included, have far surpassed the 1990's stage where our software standards are. The demand is simply not there for companies to undertake the effort necessary to get our standards up to date, not to mention processing power needed to run a virtual studio. Anyone interested in (multi-track) audio editing under RISC OS should definitely check out the regularly updated SampleEd :

[link]

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 30/4/06 2:27PM
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I think the A9 is in a good price range for students.

 is a RISC OS UserMikeCarter on 30/04/06 6:12PM
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Mike>And the Iyonix Aria Cube isn't?

The price of the A9Home (from Ad6's brochure when you add vat and the price of an external optical drive (you'll need this to install anything it has no floppy)) comes to £680.04, the Iyonix Aria cube which *also* has a card reader, a faster processor, twice as much hard disk, a network interface up to 10 times faster, USB 2 etc.,) and a CD writer comes to £799 (a difference of 119 Quid not exactly earth shattering that). You can retain the option of adding more RAM, a second HDD, you can even burn CD-RW's on the Aria (you can't do that any of that on the A9Home).

Mind you back in my studenting days (so long ago I can only *vaguely* remember them (ahhhhh)) even 119 quid might have tilted the balance in favour of the cheaper box. But I'd always urge you to think carefully about not just what you want to do *now* but what you want to do in the *future* with your computer and on that count the Iyonix might be a better choice as it's less limiting.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 30/04/06 7:34PM
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AMS: "an external optical drive (you'll need this to install anything it has no floppy)"

Much can be done via Internet these days. Much software is delivered via e-mail or simply downloaded. For example, it's quite common to upload full (uncompressed) audio tracks to a mastering studio over Internet these days. However, for many people the need for an optical drive goes without saying.

The Iyonix is a desktop computer, whereas A9home is a small form factor computer. I'd much rather have the A9home in my studio and on the road, since it's virtually silent, tiny, robustly built and cute. Plus it will run RO Select 4.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 30/04/06 7:55PM
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In reply to Adam:

"I'd much rather have the A9home... on the road"

Also the reason why im buying one.

 is a RISC OS UserMikeCarter on 01/05/06 7:08PM
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Reading through this interesting article a bit more in detail I discovered this statement from ROL: "Our policy with PRM information on RISC OS 4 features is that a number of documents have been released on the Select web site and we really expect that developers who want to use Select features will actually have a copy of Select on which to test them."

Wow, does that thus mean that users who bought VirutalRPC-Adjust or will buy the A9home will get access to the Select pages - I assume no. What I do know is that if someone quits the Select subscription access to the Select pages is revoked. But perhaps all these are considered to write programs anyhow - despite them having the odd version of Select...

But I think this doesn't matter anyhow since unless Select features are available for RISC OS 5 most programmers will write their code such that it runs on RISC OS 4 and 5 (perhaps even on 3.5+ ot 3.7+) to allow for a bigger user base ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 07/05/06 3:10PM
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to Herbert; I don't necessarily agree with you as more and more users will be using RISC OS 4.39 or better. We now have Select4 users including all A9home users; old style unupgraded RiscPCs and older machines; and Iyonix users.

I think that the Select4 base as installed in RISC OS 4.39 (the latest ROM version) is gonna be the lowest OS to develop for and on the other side the RISC OS 5 version.

 is a RISC OS Usernico on 07/05/06 3:32PM
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