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Wakefield 2001: After show report with photos and show surprises

By Chris Williams. Published: 19th May 20:37:43 | Permalink | Printable

Wakefield 2001Today has been the first day of the Wakefield 2001 show and by all accounts, what a show it has been. The build up tothe event over the past month or so has been intense to say the least and there are a number of surprises that we can now report to you. Drobe.co.uk show reporter Simon Wilson attened today, armed with a digital camera and an open mind, eagerly investigating what the RISC OS comercial community had to offer. Many thanks indeed go to Simon for his help, you can expect more reports and show information over the weekend.

Wakefield 2001 Show, 19/05/2001

The most interesting thing about the Wakefield 2001 show was the number of exclusives and new products on offer. I have done my best to report back with the highlights from the show with some photos.

Kinetic 300MHz and Oregano 2

Kinetic 300MHz

The first thing to catch my eye at the Wakefield 2001 show was Castle Technology's stand by the entrance, on which they were displaying a surprise new version of their Kinetic RiscPC. The new machine is driven by a 300MHz StrongARM and runs a more recent flavour of RISC OS, version 4.04. According to Castle, there will be no upgrade board available for existing RiscPCs due to the high processor speed demanding more stringent tests on motherboard components. The standard 128Mb of SDRAM is mounted on the Kinetic processor card as with last year's 233MHz version, but the RISC OS flash roms are now also mounted on there. For just under 1200 plus VAT, you can order one of these machines, but there are unfortunately none to take away at the show. The price on display at the show is for one of these machines with 146Mb RAM, 30Gb HD, CD ReWriter, 17" monitor and Oregano, amongst other software.

Also making its debut on the Castle stand was Oregano 2, the virtual re-write of the excellent Oregano Internet browser. Although not finished yet, the new browser will include improved frame, Javascript and Flash support, with the possible inclusion of Java 1.1.8, if all goes well. For publishing enthusiasts, Castle were selling new high quality Mustek scanners with full driver software, complemented by Canon S range printers and drivers.

Microdigital Omega

Over on the Microdigital stand behind a swarm of people, the Omega made its first appearance. Running a version of RISC OS 4 on its StrongARM processor, the new machine was usable, though a little flickery due to incomplete display drivers. It was not seen to crash or become unstable, which was a good sign! The machine was evidence that Microdigital have not been idle for the last few months. One was on display with an open case which allowed a view of the motherboard with four PCI slots. David from Microdigital was not able to give a time scale for its release, but he appeared to indicate that it would be available later this year. USB devices are supported by the machine, but drivers must first be written, of course.

Omega case options The Omega Inside the Omega
Omega case options The Omega Inside the Omega

Cerilica Vantage

Cerilica Vantage was another big exclusive for the show, with the launch of the retail version of the software very near. I was demonstrated version 0.98 beta at the show by one of the kind beta testers, and was suitably impressed. The program is bound to be the next killer application for the platform and had many features not found on similar PC or Mac software, including a colour system based on ink instead of screen colours. I particularly liked the very fast, intuitive and neat user interface, as well as the excellent rendering of images on-screen. The encapsulated PostScript import and export make it suitable for professional applications.

Riscstation Laptop

The Riscstation laptop was unable to make an appearance due to them not being able to display the new case. Riscstation signed a non-disclosure agreement with the case manufacturers, forcing them to keep the machine secret for a while longer until the case is properly released. The hardware design is however complete, meaning that they are likely to release the machine just as soon as they can.

EXPLan Solo

EXPLan Solo

EXPlan were showing off their new Solo computer, running off a tiny 12 volt battery for the duration of the show! Two solar panels were standing nearby, but I think they were designed for outdoor use with the battery for indoors. I think the machine is a fantastic idea as a palmtop is hardly useful when doing any volume of work. Similarly, a mains powered computer is no good when there is no power supply available.

Descent 2, TEK 1608 and Messenger 2

Over at the R-Comp and R-Come interactive stands were machines running Descent 2 on maximum detail very fluidly on some Kinetic 300MHz machines, but I also saw it running extremely well on a lower specification machine. I saw briefly the impressive forthcoming TEK 1608 game, though I have to confess I crashed the game horribly at the start of the day and never saw it running again after that! It does however look like it was worth waiting for. Also on display was the impressive new Messenger 2 e-mail client, with demonstrations from the company. This was the first time I had seen the software, and it puts all PC clients to shame with the number of facilities it offers!


CJE Micros were selling the Viewfinder graphics cards and were demonstrating machines running at silly resolutions. I was surprised to see at least ten machines with these cards fitted, including a new Kinetic 300MHz, proving they do work with the new machines.

At the end of the day...

I had a great day looking at all the new RISC OS hardware and software items on the market. If you were not able make it on Saturday, make sure you turn up on Sunday!

Simon Wilson

Previous: RiscStation laptop progress check
Next: Serial networking made easy for RISC OS with Matthew Lee


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