Issue 26

Mar/Apr 87

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Microdeal have released a clock card which they claim leaves all the others behind. The Micro-Time Clock Card was developed in the States but Microdeal were so impressed by it that they negotiated a deal to produce it in England and the card is now available at just 34.95. What makes the card special is that it fits inside the machine with no soldering and with the minimum of disassembly. It comes with NiCad batteries that recharge each time the computer is switched on and can be adjusted depending on how often you use your machine. Software is provided for setting up but from there on all you need is the Control Panel on your boot disk.

Also from Microdeal is Shuttle II, a game come simulation, putting you in charge of an advanced shuttle able to take off from a runway. Lots of things to consider such as wind speed and cloud cover before getting into orbit. Once there, having ditched the boosters on the way, you have to do a bit of ETA to retrieve a faulty communications satellite before getting back to earth. In the 1990's you'll be able to get a seat on the Shuttle for real, but not for 24.95!

Eidersoft, mentioned a couple of issues ago as bringing out several arcade style games at PCW, are rapidly expanding their horizons with some top quality professional applications and add-ons. Top of the line is Publishing Partner, a complete page layout system from the States which caused quite a stir when shown at Comdex last year. Minicomm is a complete comms program as a desk accessory and features Xmodem and Kermit protocols among others. Loads of functions including the ability to cut and paste to word processors. Professional Sprite Designer sounds just what budding games designers might need allowing sprites to be designed and tested before being saved to be used in other programs. On the hardware side is the first Graphics Tablet for the ST, Pro-Draw which works with all programs that use the mouse and a 20Mb hard disk that is claimed to be faster and cheaper than Atari's own. Keep an eye on Eidersoft.

Mastertronic have two titles coming for the ST at a 'budget' price of 9.95 (well how much do most programs cost?). Both are games and are titled Renegade and Ninja Mission.

Infocom's latest for the ST only (i.e. not 8-bit Atari) is Portal: A Computer Novel with the promise of a new experience of computer literature. This is not an adventure in the conventional sense and will allow a great deal of interaction between the player and the program. The start of new concept or clever use of advertising blurb? Either way, it sounds interesting.

Rumours from, or rather about, Atari are that they will introduce later this year a full Desktop Publishing system including laser printer for around 2000 and hard disks at a fraction of their present cost by using 'reject' 20Mb drives and remapping them to get 15 or 16Mb without problems. Will these come before or after the CD-Roms?

At the CES Show in Las Vegas in January Atari actually showed a prototype of their laser printer which uses the DMA port of the ST and therefore the ST's CPU to save on the cost of an on-board processor. This makes it useable only with the ST but also makes it cheap. Also on show were 'Mega ST's with detachable keyboards and radically redesigned internals with room for enhancements such as add-in cards and new circuit boards. Atari say they will be 100% compatible with existing models.