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Best Spectrum to get these days?


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I've had an itch to play some Speccy games on original hardware again - something I haven't done for 30 or so years, bar the occasional visit to PlayExpo or something. 

I had a Plus 2 back in the day, and these seem to be the most available and reasonably priced models these days. I like the idea of something more compact though, and has the massive advantage of built-in tape player.  

I'd like to own my own real-life 48k - but I want to be able to enjoy the lovely 128k-only music on games like (I think) Robocop. 

The plus probably isn't the best option for the same reason. 

The Spectrum 128 I like the look of - combines the compactness of the 48k with the extra memory of the +2 - perhaps why these seem to be the most expensive models to buy in decent condition, bar the +3. 

+2a - I remember hearing in dim and distant days long gone that there were compatibility issues? Doesn't really seem to have any advantage over the +2. 

+3 - One of these would be cool, but again worried about compatibility issues - will still be loading most of my games from tape, I'd imagine, because bloody hell, have you seen what the disk games go for on eBay these days?

 

Basically my question is - if there's anyone who still plays on Speccy hardware or has a collection of different Speccies, what ones do you find you get most enjoyment from today?

 

 

 

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I would go with a +2 if you are looking to use tapes rather than SD cards, they are cheaper and by the time you add a cassette player to it the size difference to the 128 goes away.

 

I had a +3 back in the day and hardly ever used the disk drive, as most games were on tape and the disks seemed pretty unreliable even when new. It was a lot faster to load stuff however.

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Yeah, the +2 is the sensible option. Despite them being more “Amstrad” in feel, they made a few good updates to it over the original - two of which being in built RGB, so no need for a composite mod, and a better keyboard (the original Spectrum rubber keys was shite, let’s be honest). The 128k toastrack is probably the best you could get, but they go for ridiculous prices, the +2 is a lot cheaper and you get just as much out of it.

 

The best +2 to get would be the +2b, which did have some compatibility issues (which can be mostly solved through later re-releases or the USR type in fix), as it’s the last release and the most reliable, although getting a replacement PSU can be a bit of a pain as Amstrad changed it from a standard 9V PSU. However the grey +2 is still a good choice. The +2b iirc was made in China, as stated on the sticker, which is the only way you can really tell it’s a +2b and not a +2a. The +2b also had an improved tape deck and fixed an issue to do with the 128k sound being too low compared with the beeper sound.

 

I’d also recommend getting a DivMMC Future from thefuturewas8bit as it really opens up the 128k to loading from SD cards, plus it has a built in Kempston interface, the original +2 joystick ports need an adaptor to use standard Atari style joysticks because Amstrad were dicks and wired them them differently hoping you’d be forced to buy Amstrad joysticks!

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If you get a +2 you can install tapDancer on your phone which will let you play Speccy ROMs at almost instant speed with a 3.5 audio lead. Skips all the horrendous loading and the Speccy will recognise it!

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41 minutes ago, Pavey said:

This thread got me thinking about the SAM Coupé, as i remember the pre release hype.

 

Was it any good, and the one to have?

Don't think it would be "the one to have" as it wasn't 100 percent compatible but it does look like it would be fun as s curiosity. 

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4 hours ago, Pavey said:

This thread got me thinking about the SAM Coupé, as i remember the pre release hype.

 

Was it any good, and the one to have?

Expensive and sadly doesn’t load 128k games.

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On 10/05/2020 at 10:41, gone fishin' said:

The 128k toastrack is probably the best you could get, but they go for ridiculous prices, the +2 is a lot cheaper and you get just as much out of it.

 

*googles*

 

Well, I guess carting my toastrack across the Atlantic was not just a bit of nostalgia… :o

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I've got the 128, +2 and +3.

 

God I love the 128.

 

However, I am in love with the Next. The keyboard! The box!

 

Really glad I got one (although I went the ebay expensive route although not as expensive as some of them go for).

 

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I remember when I got my Speccy I went through quite a number of them. Apparently, there was a faulty batch of the +2A (I think it was) where the tape deck was faulty and wouldn't load anything. After returning about 4 of them to Rumbelows they eventually gave me a +3 at no extra cost and sold me a tape deck at a reduced price for the inconvenience .... memories come flooding back! Because I'm biased with my bad experience with the +2A I personally would go with a +3.

 

I know the original post says original hardware, but I'm going to throw an alternative in here. I won't go into too much detail in this thread as I don't want to derail this thread too much. But I will leave a few links here.

 

My alternative to real hardware would be the MiSTer. It will do all versions of the Spectrum, has an audio input via an inexpensive add-on so you can load your tapes . It has a few similar features that the Spectrum Next has, most notably the ability to overclock the Spectrum. Not only does it recreate the Spectrum, it also recreates the Sam Coupe & the TS-Conf, amongst many other things.

 

Search on Youtube for "Pezz82 Spectrum" for info specific to the MiSTer & the Spectrum. I can't link the video here unfortunately. Also for more info on the MiSTer project have a look in the thread here on this forum,  the MiSTer Github here and the specific Spectrum page here.

 

@AceGraceMaybe you could do a video on the Spectrum core in relation to the MiSTer.

 

 

 

 

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On a related note, what's the best modern Spectrum portable emulator thingy to get?  I know one was years in the making and a skirt tale of fraud and broken promises but are any of them any good?

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The Omni HQ 128 is great (based on the Harlequin board).

 

Also the Next is brill for other reasons, and feels completely Spectrummy, but for me the Omni is the compatible beast of choice.

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A little off topic , but does anyone know , if you do the board modification on a Spectrum +3 in order to fix the sound, does it end up sounding exactly like the spectrum 128?  I love programming music on my old 128 and when I upgraded to the plus 3 it sounded like it was underwater. But I watched videos of people performing the modification and afterwards it still sounds a bit rough to me.

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I originally had a 48k then upgraded to a +2 grey model and it’s funny, but at the time I don’t remember any problems with audio. Maybe because I had nothing else to compare it with, or maybe it was because it was a million times better than the 48k beeper audio (even the feature of having audio come through the Tv was amazing). But I’ve got a +2b now and I believe it’s got the audio fixes, as does the +3b model.

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The grey +2’s usually didn’t have an issue with the sound, although there was a batch that had resistors fitted the wrong way around that caused the volume of the AY chip to play a lot lower than the beeper.

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Back then I returned my +3 as faulty many times due to the issues with the sound.  Someone at my school had what I now know was a +3b, but as a teenager I returned to the shop over and over again , insisting mine must be faulty because my friends computer was perfect.  It was years later when I learned about the 'b' models and in all that time I never saw a 'b' on sale in a store. Every time I went in a shop with a demo one on display I would type 

 

Play "c","e","g"

 

Just to check it out and never found one that sounded right.

 

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On 16/05/2020 at 15:16, Camel said:

Next is amazing but not portable. I don't know the Omni HQ; is that portable?

It is portable... kinda. It

sits in a (reproduction) 48k rubber keyed Speccy shell, but (using dip switches) can run as various models including the 128k ones and zx81 and Jupiter Ace. It also has a divMMC built in for sd card loading, and built in joystick ports.

 

The portability comes in only if you use the optional 9" lcd screen, and open it up and put some rechargable batteries inside.  (You should probably fix the audio level problem by soldering on a resistor to the motherboard while it's open).

 

It's a really neat piece of kit, I think.  (And not incredibly expensive when compared to buying a recapped/reconditioned Speccy and divMMC ).

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On 10/05/2020 at 12:10, Anne Summers said:

I've had an itch to play some Speccy games on original hardware again - something I haven't done for 30 or so years, bar the occasional visit to PlayExpo or something. 

I had a Plus 2 back in the day, and these seem to be the most available and reasonably priced models these days. I like the idea of something more compact though, and has the massive advantage of built-in tape player.  

I'd like to own my own real-life 48k - but I want to be able to enjoy the lovely 128k-only music on games like (I think) Robocop. 

The plus probably isn't the best option for the same reason. 

The Spectrum 128 I like the look of - combines the compactness of the 48k with the extra memory of the +2 - perhaps why these seem to be the most expensive models to buy in decent condition, bar the +3. 

+2a - I remember hearing in dim and distant days long gone that there were compatibility issues? Doesn't really seem to have any advantage over the +2. 

+3 - One of these would be cool, but again worried about compatibility issues - will still be loading most of my games from tape, I'd imagine, because bloody hell, have you seen what the disk games go for on eBay these days?

 

Basically my question is - if there's anyone who still plays on Speccy hardware or has a collection of different Speccies, what ones do you find you get most enjoyment from today?

 

 

 

welcome back!

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