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back to article ZX Spectrum REVIVED as Bluetooth keyboard

Beloved Brit microcomputer the ZX Spectrum has been resurrected, after a fashion. Mobile games outfit Elite Systems, which repackages retro games for use on handheld devices, has announced the Bluetooth ZX Spectrum, a Bluetooth Keyboard hiding within a reproduction ZX Spectrum 48K case. The idea is that you'd buy Elite's …

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If it helps as exposition

Apple's SDK supplies you with only the incoming stream of typed characters. So ordinary Bluetooth keyboards are useful for email, browsing and general productivity but not for games — it's like you get key down notifications but not key up.

Products like the iCade work around that by typing one character for button down and another for button up. This keyboard presumably does the same thing.

So it won't be usable with anything other than the Elite Systems app. It's an expensive workaround for an iOS-exclusive problem.

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Re: If it helps as exposition

Yes, n-key rollover isn't something you get at the CE-junk end of the IT spectrum*.

*Not only pun not intended, but had a good think about how to rephrase that to do without that word, but came up empty.

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Re: If it helps as exposition

The Bluetooth HID profile does allow multiple keypress, it's based on the USB HID devices, but it'd be a shame if it didn't also support SPP for better compatibility with more devices.

Whatever bodges have to be made at the iOS end is better left to an app for iOS.

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Or you could go USB & have the real thing

As Tynemouth Software provides -- for a price:

http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TynemouthSoftware

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Re: Or you could go USB & have the real thing

Vic 20 re-purposed as USB keyboard. Cool.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Or you could go USB & have the real thing

£99. Wow.

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Anonymous Coward

Never revisit the past, you will mostly be disappointed, remember that old film you thought was funny, the place where you used to hang out, the game you thought was amazing?

Nostalgia is one thing, trying to re-live it is another.

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"Nostalgia is one thing, trying to re-live it is another."

That may apply when talking about consoles from two generations back, but the nostalgia market for 8-bit computers remains strong because while sound and graphical gimmicks may date gameplay never does, and 8-bit games didn't have room for anything but pure unadulterated gameplay. Their legacy continues through indie developers - Super Meat Boy is so 80s it hurts.

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Sky

" Elite Systems (‘Elite’) and the acquirer have entered in to an agreement."

I assume they mean Sky, who Sugar sold Amstrad to a few years back.

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For our next trick... a ZX81 keyboard!

Enjoy hours of fingers cramped around 'buttons' 5-8 as cursor keys.

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Re: For our next trick... a ZX81 keyboard!

Oh yes!...

and while we are at it can we have a 16KB USB memory module a little larger than a pack a cigs that crashes the machine after hours of finger punishing code input, just because you gave it a funny look?

Nostalgia, it's just not as good as it used to be.

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Photo

Is it me, or does the photo show what looks like a cash register's keyboard (along with swipe card slot and manager/cashier security keys) rather than a Spectrum keyboard.

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Pint

Re: Photo

Nope, its not you. I was going to say that the quality of El Reg articles has gone down recently but then I've just remembered its Mad Friday, so they've probably started early in the El Reg offices >>>>>>>>>>

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Re: Photo

I was also thinking it doesn't look like any speccie 48K I've ever owned, but given it's a prototype maybe we can forgive it for now. But did seem strange to be sold as a speccie keyboard when it's clearly not a 48K squishboard (which I guess people wouldn't want to use for more than a few nostalgic minutes), although it does bear a passing resemblance to a Speccie 128K or a +2/+3 (give or take the card reader slot at the top).

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Re: Photo

But did seem strange to be sold as a speccie keyboard when it's clearly not a 48K squishboard (which I guess people wouldn't want to use for more than a few nostalgic minutes), although it does bear a passing resemblance to a Speccie 128K or a +2/+3 (give or take the card reader slot at the top).

Yes, it's clearly a functional prototype rather than a design mock-up, so I wouldn't read anything into that. However, 48K Spectrum does not imply a rubber keyboard: the Spectrum + was 48K and had a QL-style almost-proper keyboard..

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Re: Photo

A battery-powered Bluetooth squishboard would be great as a media centre keyboard, it's just the right size.

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Anonymous Coward

Mobile games outfit Elite Systems

I used to work for them, back in the 1990s. It was my first job after leaving university. Doing retro type stuff is what they are best at I think.

It's good to see they are still in business, even if they do still owe me quite a bit of redundancy money!

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At first I thought it was using the real guts of the Spectrum

With a little something added to the Interface 1 module.

A little impractical though. A slight bit of interface wobble and you have to plug your tape drive back in and reload the keyboard mapping software.

Basically doing what other companies have done before with a USB keyboard made from old PCs, just making a bluetooth version of it. No Z80 processor inside any more.

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Original ZX...

had the same problem. The keyboard was divided down the middle into left and right halves, and each line in each half had one control wire. each top-down column had a second control wire, so they keys shorted a vertical and horizontal wire together - that was fine for one key press, and not terrible for a second, but the third would be an issue. for any hope of handling multiple keypresses, each key had to have at least one wire (horizontal or vertical) unique to it.

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Re: Original ZX...

Depends on which keys… Q, S, E (for example) – no problem since only one line is shared. But Q, W and S, and you might as well be pressing A too.

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Windows

Re: Original ZX...

IIRC the version of the ULA mattered too. On some versions of the ULA if you pressed some key combinations other unpressed ghost keys were also reported.

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Spectrum keyboard

I must be the only person who liked the Spectrum keyboard.

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing like a Spectrum

I call BS.

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Anonymous Coward

Put a Raspberry Pi in it

Simplez!

Plus, with a couple of SD/uSD slots, internal stepper/motor drivers and optoisolated outputs so it can be used for educational purposes and general purpose electronics/amateur radio/etc kludgery.

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OK

...that's cool

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Happy

...and for Android devices too?

Hopefully it'll also be compatible with Android devices - will be cool if you can be seen banging away at an old Speccy in order to write up an expenses report for the Bossly Unit...

High time to find that Speccy in the cupboard and see whether it is possible to tack on some cheap Bluetooth chippery...

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