The latest delivery dates and more ways of using your new machine
Your views and questions about the Spectrum
Reviews of all the latest in all the commercial cassettes
Andrew Pennell looks at how you can speed up your own programs
Three pages of programs from our readers
Andrew Hewson answers more of your problems
Christopher Leigh improves on the graphics of Sinclair's chess program
A HUGE increase in the facilities available to owners of the Spectrum is promised early next year. A database of between 25,000 and 30,000 pages is being set on Prestel which can be used by Spectrum owners for the cost of an adaptor, which is expected to be produced for less than £50; an annual subscription to the database, possibly about £1 a week; and the price of a normal telephone call.
Called Micronet 800, eventually it will be available to owners of a wide range of micros, once adaptors have been produced for them. The Spectrum is one of the first machines for which an adaptor is being built.
Richard Hease, the man behind the scheme, says that the database will be set up by Christmas and he hopes the Spectrum adaptor will be ready early in January. One for the ZX-81 should follow shortly afterwards.
"I see these adaptors being needed only in the short term. Eventually I expect computer manufacturers to see the benefits of using this database and to include hardware needed within the machine," he says.
Subscribers to Micronet 800 will be able to get programs for the home, business and education, have the latest news and reviews on what is happening in the world of micros, and have the use of Telex and the handling of messages.
In the longer term it is intended to develop systems for specialised business areas.
The Micronet adaptor also allows users access to the existing database which is available on Prestel.
Micronet 800 is a consortium of Prestel, ECC Publications which publishes Sinclair User, EMAP Computer and Business Publications/Telemap and Prism Microproducts.
HOPES were high at the time of going to press that the backlog of deliveries for the Spectrum would have been removed by the end of September.
In a letter to Spectrum User, Clive Sinclair has apologised for the delay and offered a £10 voucher to those who have continued to wait. The voucher can be used against the cost of a ZX printer or rolls of printer paper.
He says production is running at 5,000 a week and should be increasing quickly.
It is expected that once the backlog has been cleared and production is keeping pace with demand from mail order, Sinclair Research will let the situation continue before making any decision about making the machine available in retail outlets.
A spokesman for the company said that although it was likely the Spectrum would follow the ZX-81 into the shops, there were too many imponderables at the moment for a decision to be taken soon.
It is unlikely that it will be available in the shops before Christmas. Last year the ZX-81 went on sale in W H Smith and was launched in the U.S. before Christmas and the resulting surge in demand caused delivery delays.
Nigel Searle, head of the computer division, has already said the mistake will not be repeated in connection with moving into the U.S. with the Spectrum.
MEMORY troubles are over on the Spectrum because of a new device from Steven Adams, called a RAM Converter. It is an adaptor which can be fitted on to the back of the Spectrum via the expansion bus allowing a 16K RAM pack, usable on the ZX-81, to be connected.
The converter will also allow the use of other add-ons while it is working. The add-ons must be memory-mapped from 16K to 32K of the machine memory.
Adams decided to make the converter because his work required more memory than the Spectrum 16K allowed. "I thought that it was such a waste to have all that ZX-81 gear hanging around."
The Converter is available for £7.