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Drobe price comparison chart

By Chris Williams. Published: 9th Nov 2003, 11:31:55 | Permalink | Printable

Checking out the competition

Now that the RISC OS market has a reasonable number of computers available to end users, regardless of your opinion of emulation, we felt it was time to draw up a chart of what's on offer. After some intense HTML coding and elementary research, we're fairly proud to present to you all our straightforward features vs. prices table.

Listing everything from native desktop machines to VRPC-SE wielding Windows PC lap warmers, we hope the chart will be of use to anyone considering buying a new machine. Don't think of this as a review as we've deliberately avoided making any kind of opinionated commentary because we want cold, hard fact to illuminate your web browser. You can however find benchmarks worthy of a VIP pass into statistic nerd heaven here, here and here.

Finally, while we'd like to think we're absolutely perfect and our scribblings are utterly flawless, reality dictates otherwise - so if you have any comments or corrections, just drop us an email and we'll do our best to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Links

RISC OS computer features vs. price table for 2003

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Discussion

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You really need a panel resolution column in there for the laptops. One laptop may be much better than another with the same screen size in inches if it has a higher resolution, but we can't tell that from the table.

 is a RISC OS Usersenduran on 9/11/03 12:05PM
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So have all the 7500FE machines been discontinued then?

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 9/11/03 12:34PM
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What makes you think that?

 is a RISC OS UserThe Doctor on 9/11/03 2:03PM
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Can't find them on the list.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 9/11/03 3:53PM
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I just made a long and cogent statement, but your preview system ate it. Bah.

 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 9/11/03 4:05PM
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I think that the native machines should be at the top of this list as we all want to see native machines sold - right?

And btw. why are there no Pentium M (Centrino) laptops with VRPC? I think that these laptops are the best option to emulate RISC OS. They are quiet, the batteries last long and they are very fast. With VA5000 a 1.3 GHz Pentium M had a better performace than my AMD 2400+ laptop.

 is a RISC OS Usermaikl on 9/11/03 4:54PM
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Benchmarks are all very well, but I'm going to wait for some reviews of what the various machines feel like in use before parting with my cash. Even then, I grew up using Acorn, I understand what's going on when it goes wrong and can usually put it right. The thought of relying on something that I don't deep down understand is of little attraction. Don't get me wrong, I think VRPC is a technically brilliant probuct but it's probably not for an oldie like me. I was genuinely impressed when I saw Virtual A5000 running an application I'd written straight off and without any problem though.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 9/11/03 7:41PM
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I found that VA-5000 "felt" like an A-7000 when run on an Athlon 1.2GHz/T'Bird based box with 256MB of RAM and Win98SE. It felt quite usable. I'd expect (and this is only a guestimate) more up to date PC hardware to manage perhaps 3 or 4 times that speed (or around StrongARM territory).

Like you I was quite impressed, my big (nagging) worry is what effect this will all have on the RISC OS Platform (that is hardware+software). A lot of big names on the scene here have thrown their weight behind (what is fundementally) a PC hardware solution running RISC OS under software emulation. That being the case they do *not need* to *ever* countenance using actual ARM hardware ever again. Also it puts RISC OS firmly at the mercy of whatever twists and turns Microsoft do next - as your primary OS is really WindowsXP (VARPC just runs as a program on top of it). In the face of that you have just Iyonix and Omega (and the now slower A7000 style boxes - which can't really compete with either native *or* emulated systems running RISC OS).

That's where we're at at the moment and whether it's a good or bad place to be will become clear in due course no doubt.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 9/11/03 8:12PM
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In reply to AMS Thanks for that. Am I right in thinking that RISC processors are lagging behind CISC in terms of processing speed because of demand from MicroSoft, Acorn previously being the force pushing RISC along ?

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 9/11/03 8:35PM
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> Martin

Actually that was probably not quite true.

Some RISC processors are very fast (the PowerPC G5, UltraSPARC and probably the Dec Alpha (the first 64bit RISC processor) the latter sadly no longer with us), and some CISC processors translate their x86 code and have it run on a RISC processor core anyway. The deficiencies of CISC were to some extent addressed by the CISC processors being clocked considerably faster than their RISC compatriots. Pile on enough MHz and eventually you get some speed advantage.

That having been said it's dangerous to assume that 1MHz on one processor equates exactly (in performance terms) with 1MHz on a different processor architecture.

MS I don't believe are pushing processor speeds along, the hardware manufacturers would do that anyway. In the case of the ARM this was (once ARM was spun off by Acorn) retargetted at low power consumption uses, this meant using smaller memory caches, and not pushing the clock rates too high (and this hit performance).

That having been said the RISC PC managed impressive speed considering the very small cache size and lowish clock rates and that was as a result (in part) of the frugality of RISC OS and the inherent neatness of the ARM architecture.

It would be nice to see what the ARM would manage to do with a Pentium sized Cache and clock speed (I think when running RISC OS we'd all be very pleasantly surprised), especially considering that at the moment when clocked much more modestly the StrongARM and XScale can be as responsive at some activities as their PC compeditors.

Regards

Annraoi

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 9/11/03 9:06PM
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In reply to AMS. Thanks, again - what you say makes sense. Yes, it would be nice although, I must say that, in practice, there is very little that I've wanted to do ( and nothing that I've REALLY wanted to do) that my three year old Kinetic RiscPC was too slow to cope with. Experiments that spring to mind are silly thinks like generating an MP3 file but which, none the less, would have been embarassing if anyone had been watching. Unforturately for RiscOS, being able to do that sort of gimmick attention grabbing thing (play DVDs, edit video etc) is what non-techies are dazzled by, and if you were a RiscOS user that had that as the main area of interest then I guess, that's the point at which you abondone the platform next time you upgrade. However, it is easy to over focus of the latest machines. I do use a windows machine and like most people around me, it's out of date and slow and frustrating to use. It's also three years old and probably equally bad at generating MP3s. (As I say, MP3 it was just a passing curiousity to me) Trouble is, it cost 700ukp, the kinetic 1300ukp. The buy it cheap, bin it and upgrade tomorrow culture is against us.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 9/11/03 11:29PM
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Jees, looking at those PC prices I should start smuggling $400 Dell laptops into England next time I'm that side of the Atlantic! ;)

Maybe you should put an extra column stating whether the screen on any of those machines could view that table width - my 14" @ 1024 certainly couldn't!

To the guy who's 1.2GHz TBird felt like an A7000 - you must either be crippled by Win98 or an old graphics card/DirectX as my 1.4 TBird is easily SA-speed (maybe there's a difference between VA5000 and VARPC).

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 9/11/03 11:59PM
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I am somebody who learnt everything I know about computers from 1985 using a BBC micro then on to to a A5000 then a RiscPc moved into PC world after 1998 after Acorn folded, then got back into RiscOS after decided to upgade my RiscPc so my daugher could run simple progarms without crashing the computer. I now use my ageing RiscpC Bought in 1996 more than than the three PCs bought and sold since then, everyone of them was repaired at least least twice. The RiscPc has went from Strongarm to Risc OS 4 to Bigger Harddrive to Select without giving any problems. I have upgraded my old system using companies like Rcomp Cta Cje Castle Silicon Apdl to name but a few. The support has been great to say the least if i have a query about something you get a reply the next day or sooner, sometimes from the person who actually wrote the software (rcomp)or designed the hardware (std), coming from a background where I have left a PC into a dealer to get a faulty CD driver Fixed and to to told call back in two weeks this is impressive. The bottom line is there is a limited number of dealers selling Riscos Stuff which seems to be reducing.I will be buying a Iyonix and if i need a laptop I will buy from one of the dealers mentioned in the recent articles even if they are more expensive because if we dont support them noboby will be developing the Riscos world. Most people writing into the Drobe are very computer technical the majortiy of people arent we rely on the info from enthusaists web pages and support from dealers. Lone may it continue.

 is a RISC OS Userpmcd on 10/11/03 12:56AM
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AMS>

"[regarding emulation] it puts RISC OS firmly at the mercy of whatever twists and turns Microsoft do next"

True. But think - in five years time do you still expect to be able to buy a new Iyonix or Omega (or their successors)? Or do you think you'll be able to buy a PC that runs the emulator?

Personally, I don't know which I'd put money on.

-- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 10/11/03 9:49AM
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Spriteman: If the Iyonix is produced for as long as the Risc PC was, you'll still be able to buy one in eight years, never mind five.

dgs

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 10/11/03 10:29AM
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dgs: The StrongARM undoubtedly had a lot to do with the longevity of the RiscPC, and IIRC the processor on the Iyonix can't be replaced. I'd be surprised if it lasts as long.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 10/11/03 1:48PM
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I agree, the Iyonix won't be around in 5 years, it will have been replaced by the Iyonix Mk 2:-)

 is a RISC OS UserEddie on 10/11/03 2:47PM
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I think I would worry more if the Iyonix was still available in 5 years - a new machine twice a decade is not good, and by then PC's running emulation will be soooo much faster!

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 10/11/03 5:00PM
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If Castle benefit from a much faster equivalent processor being made available - much like Acorn benefitted from the StrongARM's appearance at more than six times the speed of the ARM610 - then I'll be buying an "Iyonix 3" with a 4GHz XScale in it, two or three years from now.

Maybe this time I'll have to buy a new motherboard and case? Well, since Castle already paid for the 32-bit OS, the hardware abstraction, some up to date video drivers and other bits, I might just manage to put up with that?

There's many a slip betwixt cup and lip, just as the StrongARM upgrade proved a couple of years after the *last* time people wrote off real RISC OS hardware!

dgs

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 10/11/03 10:29PM
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But this time the evil empire seems to be closer to controlling everything.

 is a RISC OS UserTezza on 11/11/03 7:10AM
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what determines whether an item goes in 'news' or 'features'. isn't this more worthy of a Drobe Feature?

 is a RISC OS Usergovind on 14/11/03 2:15PM
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