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RiscStation wants deposit holders to reconsider

By Chris Williams. Published: 13th Oct 2003, 19:47:53 | Permalink | Printable

Annoucement incoming, speculation arrived

When portable?RiscStation would prefer deposit holders for its ARM7500FE based laptop product to hold off asking for their money back as they have a new development in the works. Speaking to drobe.co.uk earlier, RiscStation explained that they have an announcement planned for this week which will reveal a new development to address the portable saga.

RiscStation had aimed to deliver their laptop by July 2002 although nothing since has turned up, except a failed mailing list. Also, customers have, reportedly, had varying degrees of sucess in terms of getting their deposits back. Some users have been able to receive a refund immediately while others had to resort to writing to their credit card companies.

In a posting to usenet, deposit holder Kell Gatherer reported, "I was told, 'No, there haven't been any refunds; they have to come from CTA who will be making an announcement in the next few days, and then you should make up your mind what you're going to want to do. I can't say any more on the phone.'
"I have to say, an announcement of any kind about the RS laptop would come as an extraordinary surprise. At this stage I'd find the announcement more of a surprise than its content, IYSWIM."

Kell later added in an email to us, "I wish they'd get on with it".

Roy Heslop, Managing Director of RiscStation, explained to us that his company wasn't in a sound financial position to offer refunds on laptop deposits and incidentally felt their laptop hardware had been underrated by the userbase. According to RiscStation, their ARM7500FE 56MHz laptop would equal or outperform a 233MHz StrongARM RiscPC due to the redesigned motherboard and fast memory access.

Roy also blamed RiscStation's inability to secure IT contracts with outside organisations on the reputation RISC OS users had given them. Remember, your comments are just a google away.

Although RiscStation wouldn't comment on what their announcement will entail, one other developer recently hinted to us that RiscStation will in some way employ VirtualRPC. Riscstation wouldn't confirm this when we spoke to them and that we'd have to wait for the official announcement.



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I have great sympathy for RiscStation over this. If what they say is true about outside IT contractors, then I think anyone making bad comments about them should be ashamed. They've tried hard to develop the portable and considering how good the original RiscStation was I think they deserve a chance to explain themselves. I wish RiscStation all the best and hope they can produce a wholly RISC protable for us. I'm also impressed by there claim about the performance being better than a StrongARM; a little difficult to believe. -- Smiler - :D Alex Melhuish

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 13/10/03 8:19PM
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Well, I'm fining it hard to write anything positive about RiscStation....

<-long pause->

Nah, I give up. -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 13/10/03 8:51PM
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I'm quite sure Roy Heslop can't have said that "his company wasn't in a sound financial position to offer refunds on laptop deposits". After all, wouldn't that mean that the company was knowingly... ahem, I think we'd better not discuss this.

Nice to hear that a 56MHz ARM7500FE computer equals or outperforms a 23Mhz StrongARM computer, though... *very* big pinch of salt required.

Why would a Windows laptop running an emulator be of interest to RiscStation deposit holders? Surely MicroDigital did that ages ago.

It's a great pity that there's still no proper RISC OS laptop. Time for an X-Scale RISC OS 5 RON from Castle, methinks. You can just imagine the performance and battery life comparisons as against a hot-to-the-touch Windows laptop only emulating RISC OS...


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 13/10/03 9:21PM
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Looks like RiscStation should have been more public about what's happening with the portable, and they might no have gotten themselves all the bad publicity.

I totally expect the RS announcement to be based around "we're replacing the Portable with a Dell and a copy of VirtualRPC-SE"!

I guess it's possible that the Portable could out-perform a SA-RPC if it uses fast memory a la Kinetic/Omega, although so can a 1.5GHz PC running VARPC...

-- C'mon, mod me down, PUNK!

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 13/10/03 9:48PM
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Seeing as the excuse for not coming up with the portable goods has been 'we can't source this or that component', or 'by the time we sourced one or other case, the case was no longer available', isn't it time to concentrate on making RISC OS 5 work with ARM portables that exist RIGHT NOW?

If I could get a NetBook with RISC OS, I would by buying one like a shot.

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 13/10/03 9:55PM
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dgs and JessFranco (and others):

What is this obsession with "RISC OS 5"? Surely this is just NCOS, derived from the RISC OS 3.5 tree, brought back to the desktop?

Is it just that it's 32 bit? Or that 5 is greater than 4? You're not all that stupid are you?

Why isn't this just as much of a compromise as any other that everyone rants about?

I want RISC OS 4 + Select on new hardware, what do I do? (no particular order):

a) Wait for something that never arrives - no refund. b) Remortgage the house and downgrade to "RISC OS 5" and hope that it gets Select sometime c) Windows? d) Emulation?


 is a RISC OS Useroscynic on 13/10/03 10:40PM
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hmm, if I had a deposit, the note that RS are not in a 'wasn't in a sound financial position' would be the notice for me to demand my money right now. If they offer a compelling product in a 'few days' then I would consider it. But hey I wouldn't have handed money over for something that I couldn't walk away with anyway. Ah the joys of hindsight.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 13/10/03 10:50PM
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oscynic: RISC OS 5 is not derived from 3.5, but from 4 just as Select is. I suppose the obsession is that it is able to run on the XScale, whereas RISC OS 4.x cannot. I'd be infinitely more likely to by an XScale laptop than a 7500FE one, though I'd probably consider the latter too. -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 13/10/03 11:14PM
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The reason that we babble on about RISC OS 5 is that it has hardware abstraction and can run on 32bit only processors. Two things that ROL muttered about but never did. That aside, RO5 is the OS that requires less work to make it work on things like the Netbook.

Now ask me the same question again when ROL finish 32bitting and abstracting RO4 (and call it RO6) and I might give you a different answer.

-- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 13/10/03 11:15PM
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ksattic: Ooh, snappish :-)

I'm sure someone will correct us all if I am wrong but I was under the impression that RO5 branched off at version 3.8ish. IE it has most of what RO4 has over 3.7 plus what Pace added but not the fancy stuff that ROL added when they got thier RO licence. -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 13/10/03 11:18PM
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As I understood it, RiscStation and CTA were different companies within the same organisation. If RiscStation is not in possition to make refunds, how can its sister organisation be able to?

Having said that, if CTA have managed to get a portable up and running, maybe a nice RISC OS based PDA, then all well and good. With the Guildford Show less than four days away, as I type, I think fair to give them one last deadline. If nothing happens on Saturday, then everything changes. -- Keep Flying

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 14/10/03 9:35AM
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If RiscStation released a pure ARM laptop this week, I would walk down to the bank, get a personal loan...and buy one straight away.

I dbout I will be making that walk though..

 is a RISC OS UserFedorenko on 14/10/03 10:52AM
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I remember the days when people touted that RISC OS on a PSION NetBook was the way forward....

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 14/10/03 11:01AM
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Psion going downhill put a slight dampner on that. RISC OS 5 is probably still beter suited to a NetBook, etc.

Pace/ROL split off at post 3.8 stage, all work on 4 (not extra stuff) by ROL could/was put back into Pace ROS4. So the only real difference is icons. ROL then worked on Select and Pace/Castle worked on ROS5, just with different budgets/manpower/direction.

How many people don't have Select? 3000 that bought ROS4 but not Select, and another 3000 that never bought ROS4? For them it's a user experiance upgrade as well as a system upgrade.

More ROS5 owners means more potential ROS5 Select inquiries, which means a higher probability of ROS5 Select, which means more Select users, which benifits Select owners (that's you btw)

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 14/10/03 11:55AM
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As there are so many ARM based PDA systems out there now, and Hardware Abstraction has been achieved on at least one machine (The Iyonix); how difficult would moving RISC OS into that field be?

-- Keep Flying

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 14/10/03 11:56AM
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JWCR, most ARM based PDAs are smallish Windows CE (pocket PC) based machines, a lot of these have screen resolutions of 320x240 (or quarter VGA), whilst I'd quite like RISC OS on a PDA I'm not sure how many RISC OS applications would actually be usable on screens that small.

Is it Mode 13 that is about that resolution ?

In mode 13 the fonts look rubbish, and would still be too small for the screen. Going to a device with a display that small requires a lot of thought from a UI point of view.


 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 14/10/03 12:58PM
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Agree with flibble. Was about to say that RISC OS is designed with monitors (and high res ones, at that - 640x480 is unpleasant to use) in mind, and the mouse/keyboard control system of a desktop computer. Neither the OS, nor the main applications would be pleasant to use at 320x240 (or whatever the double-height units use). It would mean the development of new apps, a new UI and a new method of interacting with that UI. Essentially that means re-working all the good bits of RISC OS!

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 14/10/03 1:03PM
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dgs - where can you get a 23 MHz StrongARM RiscPC. :-) I expect it's fuel efficient.

I'd still prefer to have a RISC-based laptop solution, but can't see that being better than a PC running VRPC. 750ukp inc VAT and delivery gets you a very high spec (relatively) DELL laptop these days. -- Andrew Harmsworth, Cambridge. www.gcse.com owner and author

 is a RISC OS Userharmsy on 14/10/03 1:42PM
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Who are CTA? I don't think I've heard of them before (probably just me being stupid, I know...)

 is a RISC OS Userhutchies on 14/10/03 1:48PM
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CTA are a long established company who have sold Acorn / RISC OS machines for many years. They usually have a large stand at the Wakefield, South East and (I think) Midlands Shows and regularily advertise in the RISC OS press. Also has as been stated above they are part of the same group as RiscStation. -- Victor Shears, Maidstone

 is a RISC OS Uservshears on 14/10/03 2:30PM
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I have to feel some sympathy with CTA, as sales of RiscStations must have dropped after the Omega was announced. Thus less money to develop other projects. Had they kept to the original full laptop design I have no doubt I would have paid a deposit too. Like many of us, I have to run PC type progs for work, and VA5000 suits my needs for the moment. --

 is a RISC OS UserEddie on 14/10/03 4:27PM
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harmsy: An X-Scale based RISC OS laptop (RON or otherwise) would be faster than an emulated Windows solution, and also have about four times the battery life.

No competition, really - if it existed.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 14/10/03 5:15PM
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I'm not so sure on 4x the battery life. Many people seem to think that the CPU is the most power-hungry device in a laptop. It certainly isn't - it's quite common for the display and the hard disc to take as much or more of the juice.

Frankly, I much prefer the emulation route - it gives you compatibility with the Windows world, just like PC cards did, except with much greater performance, and the ability to run modern versions of Windows. (Not to mention cheaper)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 14/10/03 6:40PM
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RISC OS was designed for 640x256, mode 12. With textured stuff turned off it's still fine. Of course it's logically 640x512 as EY=2. Is all the EX/EY stuff done by VIDC? can Iyonix/Portables/Handhelds do the same thing?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 14/10/03 6:45PM
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Modern versions of Windows aren't cheaper.

RiscStation wouldn't deny using VRPC either then?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 14/10/03 6:47PM
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nunfetishist: Modern PC laptops make good use of power-saving technology under Windows, but the various RISC OS emulators largely prevent that happening, as I understand it. Also, "RISC OS 5 RON", if it ever appeared, wouldn't necessarily utilise a hard disk anyway.

So, yes, 4x the battery life is realistic. (But not the same thing as 4x the battery life of a laptop that only ran Windows).

As far as I can remember, all the PC laptops running RISC OS under emulation that I've ever seen, were running on mains power. I might try and arrange a demo of an Alpha or similar without mains power, and see how long the battery lasts...


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 14/10/03 6:56PM
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I asked for my deposit back last week, but got no reponse. My biggest gripe is the same as it's always been, absolutely no contact or information from RiscStation. One would think that people who had paid deposits would be kept informed, but once again instead of being the first to know we only find out through the grapevine. Unless RiscStation are proposing a release date during the next month for a native portable then I will still want my money back. I will not accept "an emulator" version - I already have that... As an aside, I also asked for my deposit back on the Omega, once again because of no contact (apart from an email last December saying that I was in batch 4 for delivery after Christmas - although fair to say they didn't say which Christmas...).

Geoff Potter

 is a RISC OS UserGeoffP on 14/10/03 6:58PM
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It took me two months of letters and e-mails to get my Omega deposit back. Recorded delivery letters were ignored and returned unopened. In the end I had to threaten court action. The cheque arrived the day before the deadline. You can use the internet to issue a summons now. --

 is a RISC OS UserEddie on 14/10/03 7:13PM
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I think the story above is a little "kind" on dates. I was given a date of 14th February 2002 by Roy after Christmas 2001 had been missed for deliveries. However, I still wish RISCStation good luck - they have done their bit in keeping post-Acorn hardware available. I suspect they were naive rather than lacking competance (and I don't doubt their honesty).

My hopes lie with Castle. Remembering the close relationship between the A4 and the A5000, it wouldn't be that much work to develop an Iyonix variant to go into a laptop. The difficulty remains obtaining a donor laptop in the (low) quantities that the market would justify. Also, I wouldn't underestimate the complexities of fitting a motherboard into a laptop and I guess they change (in detail) very frequently.

I did raise the issue of RO5 in a Netbook with John B some months ago. He was unenthusiastic - selling just software means less return for Castle and he was concerned about sales lost to piracy.


 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 14/10/03 10:41PM
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If there is a golden egg on the way don't kill the goose just yet. Those who still have deposits are not going to loose much by giving Riscstation one more chance.

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 15/10/03 6:03AM
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What a coincidence... Had a letter today from MD saying my machine is about to be built!!!

I'm holding back until I get some more info on what is working and what isn't.

At least they have contacted me...

Geoff Potter

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 15/10/03 3:42PM
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Do you get to customise it with more leather and watch them build it live on the internet like with a new Aston?

 is a RISC OS UserMENTAT on 15/10/03 5:52PM
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You might want to customise it with more ethernet, or more USB, since apparently it doesn't have either yet...


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 15/10/03 8:00PM
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I've only had a few comments back so far, it seems that networking is only a couple of weeks away (so Easter should be okish), USB is almost there (probably means next summer), X-Scale (probably when Iyonix stops using them all).

Unfortunately I paid by cheque so getting a refund may entail a little more effort. I'm surprised at the trouble DGS had getting a refund, I'll certainly avoid going to Holland...

Still, I've emailed MD to see what they have to say about the current state of the hardware and see what happens. I will keep you all posted.

Geoff Potter

 is a RISC OS UserGeoffP on 15/10/03 9:30PM
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I had less trouble getting a refund than some other people who told me about their experiences.

I think if you rely on sending an email and "seeing what they say", you'll never get anywhere.

Please don't think that anyone has the right to hold onto your money ("in production" or otherwise) just because you wrote them a cheque and they cashed it months before shipping the goods.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 15/10/03 10:31PM
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I forgot to mention... Holland is a lovely place and the RISC OS show is excellent every year (I've been there three times now, with different peripheral activities each year).

Don't be put off by anything you hear, especially from me (perhaps I caught David at an especially nervous moment...)


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 15/10/03 10:36PM
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The Riscstation / RO customer base may well have given RS a bad reputation, but after all "the customer is always right" and you won't sell many machines if the users have already been put off.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 17/10/03 01:47AM
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Wasnt an announcement meant to have occured by now?

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ via on 22/10/03 04:49AM
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Anyone heard anything more????

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 26/10/03 3:38PM
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