The ZX Spectrum is getting a new start.
Be a part of it!
Fall in love again
Relive the experience of opening a box and getting a brand new Spectrum that feels as revolutionary as the original back in its heyday. Plug it in and start enjoying your beautifully designed new computer.
The Spectrum Next is a reimplementation of the original at hardware level, ensuring it runs all the software out there -- old and new. And it's also compatible with most expansions made for the ZX Spectrum.
Built for tomorrow
Faster, more memory, new video modes, SD storage, HDMI output... It takes the Speccy to a whole new level. And it's totally open source, so the community can expand, improve and take it into the future.
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One of the most gifted retro hackers on the planet, Victor is responsible for an endless string of open source hardware aimed at keeping our beloved oldies alive. Perhaps his mostly recognised project is the multisystem cartridge emulator, enabling many consoles to use a single device to load games from SD cards.
An industrial designer of unparalleled talent, Rick’s seminal works include the ZX80, ZX81, ZX Spectrum, Plus and QL. Over the decades his creations have stood out of the crowd and survived the test of time, remaining icons of design to this day. If you think the Spectrum Next looks gorgeous, it’s all his doing.
Recognised as a key figure in the MSX hardware scene in Brazil, Fabio is a computer scientist with a not-so-hidden passion for the Speccy (the MSX vs Speccy in Brazil was analogous to the C64 vs Speccy in the UK). He’s the co-creator of the TBBlue Spectrum board, the starting point of the Next hardware.
A game designer and the co-founder of Bossa Studios, makers of Surgeon Simulator, I Am Bread and Worlds Adrift, Henrique is a retro gamer whose very first title was created in a ZX Spectrum clone (TK-90X). His passion for games and demoscene powers the developer relations of the Next project.
Evolving As You Read It.
The Spectrum Next is fully implemented with FPGA technology, ensuring it can be upgraded and enhanced while remaining truly compatible with the original hardware by using special memory chips and clever design. Here’s what under the hood of the machine:
AKA: The Ever-Expanding FAQ.
Q. Is the Spectrum Next an emulator?
No, the Spectrum Next is implemented with FPGA technology, no emulation was involved in this beautiful machine.
Q. Is the Spectrum Next compatible with all Spectrum games?
The Spectrum Next should work with all games created for the original computers. We tested the most transcendental games out there (we’re looking at you, Arkanoid and Aquaplane) and demos to ensure they work fine, including with the mini HDMI output.
Q. Is the Spectrum Next compatible with all original hardware?
Almost. A few interfaces uses a rare Z80 mode (bus request) that it’s not supported by the Spectrum Next. So far we’ve found one interface like this, the AMX Mouse. Everything else we’ve managed to test worked just fine.
Q. Do I need a special SD card or something complicated?
No, it’s a regular SD card with a typical FAT filesystem. You can use a computer to transfer or backup your files to the card with no trouble.
Q. Can I load homebrew games on the Spectrum Next?
Yes, you can load all your games with the SD Card or the tape interface, including new gems like Castlevania and Knightmare 2.
Q. Does it support software for 48k and 128k modes?
Yes, all Spectrum modes are supported (and also ZX81 software -- we forgot to mention that!)
Q. Can I connect the Spectrum Next to my network?
Yes, it features a port for a ESP8266 Wi-Fi module you can add.
Q. Can I save my work while using the Spectrum Next?
Yes, you can save using the SD Card or the tape interface, old-style!
Q. Can I use my normal VGA monitor (31khz)?
Yes, the Spectrum Next does support a standard VGA monitor (CRT or LCD). It uses a ‘scandoubler’ feature to output a signal these monitors understand.
Q. Does it have a SCART output connector?
No, but you can use a HD15 to SCART cable (not included) easily found on eBay.
Q. What is the ULAplus and what new graphical modes does it support?
The ULAplus feature increases the total colours to 260 and you can use 64 on screen at the same time. You can find out more about it here.
Q. Does switching on the ULAplus support give existing games more colours?
You need to load the game palette file first. There are individual palette files for some titles and generic palettes that should work with other games. Also there are completely recolored games you can directly load from SD Card, like Cybernoid II, Commando, Terra Cresta and many others.
Q. Is the keyboard of the Spectrum Next the same as the ZX Spectrum Plus and QL?
No, they just look the same. Underneath its looks one finds a modern butterfly system that aims to provide comfort and high bandwidth input for the keyboard, similar of what one would expect from a modern laptop.
Q. Is it possible to change the Spectrum Next settings such as speed, video settings etc at runtime?
Yes, all the settings available at the setup menu are also accessible through OUT/IN commands, making it possible for instance to change the Z80 CPU speed from 3.5Mhz to 7Mhz or enable/disable any particular interface such as the DivMMC via code, thus enabling programs to make use of all the features (or not) with no hassle for the end user.
Q. Is there a straightforward way of pushing code and data from a PC to the Spectrum Next?
The simplest way that’s best suited to most is to just copy files via the SD card. For developers who want to push data in real time for testing, we’re leaning towards a RS232 connection. We’re also currently planning to include an ESP8266 Wi-Fi network module port for those wishing to add it.
Q. The Spectrum Next joystick support was announced to be compatible with Cursor and Interface 2. What about Kempston?
The original design has already maxed out the available pins on the Cyclone II FPGA chip. Following feedback from the community, we’re considering updating the chip to a larger one to support all joystick modes selected by the boot menu, Wi-Fi and other extras all in one go.
Q. Is there a development environment (IDE) for the Spectrum Next available yet?
Not at this time, but we’re already working on putting together a suite of tools, documentations and code examples to fast track development for the platform. These will be shipped with every Spectrum Next (as in the good old days of schematics packed in the manual!) and will be available for download shortly, way before the machine is in production, so developers who have access to dev kits can start coding in preparation for the launch.
Q. What OS will ship with the Spectrum Next?
We’re aiming to ship the Next with the ESXDOS from Miguel Guerreiro, as it’s one of the most powerful OS available at this time, including support for the .TRD format widely used in Russia and required for some of the most advanced programs currently available for the Spectrum. We are in touch with Guerreiro for the proper licence to include ESXDOS in the package.
Q. Will it support FAT32 longnames?
We hope so, and are already discussing this feature. There are specific versions of ESXDOS already featuring longnames, we’ll do our best to include a similar version for the Spectrum Next.
Q. Ever since the announcement, what have been the additions to the Spectrum Next specs requested by the community and considered to be implemented in the final version?
The current list is: Kempston joystick support; Wi-Fi; longnames filesystem support; Real Time Clock (RTC); method to set / check status of all setting and peripherals (already implemented); support for Kempston mouse (already implemented).
Q. Will there be new video modes? Can we get rid of the colour clash?
The implementation of the ULAplus brings a new colour palette that’s compatible with existing games, and it makes it possible to enhance their visuals (Dan Dare, Cybernoid, Terra Cresta are a few examples already supporting the extra colours). The ULAplus also can display more colours on the screen at the same time. But the ULAplus doesn’t change colour clash: this is a job for some neat code tricks found on graphical engines such as Nirvana. Beyond these tricks, we don’t think about adding new video modes as this will make the Spectrum Next lose its ‘Spectrum’ feel about it. If you feel strongly about this topic, drop us a line -- the discussion is always open and it’s never too late to enhance the firmware.
Q. Can the Spectrum Next support Scorpion, Pentagon, Timex, others? SPECTRA interface video modes will be supported?
From a very early evaluation, yes, the Next could support these, but they are not tested yet. We’ll look at supporting more models shortly.
Q. How much will the ZX Spectrum Next cost?
We’ve preliminary closed the budget of the project, and we started with the goal of launching the computer at the same price the original ZX Spectrum was made available in the 80s: £175. We achieved this goal, and are now working to make it cheaper -- ideally we would be able to sell under £100. The final price will depend on the total volume of orders, the more units the cheaper the individual cost; and also on sourced partners. We’re doing our best to make the Spectrum Next as affordable as possible without compromising features, quality or adding risks to the crowdfunding.
Q. Will the firmware and other pieces of code be Open Source?
Yes, the Spectrum Next team is committed to opening the entirety of the project to the community in order to secure the project's constant evolution and its future with the collaboration of every fan willing to help.