MicroDigital expands mobile RISC OS range By Chris Williams. Published: 4th Oct 2003, 02:12:48 | Permalink | Printable
17 inch Pentium 4 Alpha laptop spells overkill or anywhere heaven?MicroDigital have this weekend expanded their Alpha laptop range with various new models. MicroDigital's brainwave of taking unbranded Microsoft Windows based laptops and emulating a RiscPC on them in order to run RISC OS is proving to be a success, the West Yorkshire based company claims. Scottish dealer Liquid Silicon got the scoop by posting online a revised price listing, but then to our surprise, MicroDigital updated their website.
The Alpha Standard and Alpha Pro are no more and instead Alpha models are listed with a new M1 to M5 designation. The M1 is a low end 14” laptop, the M2 being a mid range 15” laptop and the M5 is an eyecatching 17” offering. MicroDigital state that the new models are in reponse to customer requirements, so then perhaps nothing to do with the recent general release of VirtualRiscPC.
The beefy 2.4GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor in the M5, coupled with VirtualRiscPC and RISC OS 4, appears to undermine the StrongARM powered desktop Omega model and could indicate a shift in company focus away from in-house designed hardware – we can't remember there being any mobile Intel system in MicroDigital's fantastic multicoloured Spectrum project, though. Will there be a time when MicroDigital, or any RISC OS dealer for that matter, would recommend a portable emulation solution over an in-house engineered, native RISC OS hardware product?
While MicroDigital's technical people slave over the finishing touches for the Omega range (little things like networking, USB and documentation), you might be asking who is therefore behind the Alpha? We could be way off the mark here but, having delved a little here and there, MicroDigital's laptops appear to be very similar to Fortune Technology's laptop range, in terms of specification and case styles. If this is true then, at least according to websites like laptopsforless.net, it would appear that actually the Alpha laptops could almost certainly originate from Clevo, a Taiwanese electronics firm.
A MicroDigital employee at the Wakefield 2003 show insisted that it was MicroDigital who had designed and built the Alpha laptops, which we assumed was sarcasm or something. Check out the press clipping for Clevo's 17” laptop that closely resembles the Alpha M5. Of course, the RiscPC emulation software at the heart of the Alpha range was developed by VirtualAcorn with RISCOS Ltd., who produces RISC OS 4.
Today's portable news coincides beautifully with Psion's new XScale packing Netbook Pro. While Psion's news helped re-open RISCOS Ltd.'s RON wounds, it reminded us that as a native portable is still some way off, the double edged sword that is hardware emulation has now for many users become an acceptable alternative to the real thing.
Liquid Silicon's Alpha price list
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