QUICK DISC MAKES A CHANGE
CONSIDERING the price of disc drives, the new Triton Quick Disc from Radofin - anyone remember the Aquarius? - Electronics Ltd looks like a good deal. For only £119.95 you get a disc drive and an interface for the Spectrum. First impressions can be deceptive but, and it is a big but, it does offer disc drive speed at a very reasonable price.
As with other fast storage devices in its price range, the microdrive and wafer drive, it is dedicated to the Spectrum. Therefore, if you decide to change computer you will have to throw it away.
The Spectrum interface is hard wired to the drive using just over 1/2 metre of cable. That is 5cm too short if you want to put the drive on the left of the Spectrum. On the side of the interface is a two position switch to denote first and second drive - the interface for the second drive plugs into the back of the first. The instructions say that only the second drive or a ZX Printer should be plugged into the interface, which is a problem if you want to add a printer or joystick interface.
Unlike all other disc drives the 2.8in does not use concentric tracks but a spiral, as on a record. Despite that it is still quick, although not as fast as a normal drive, with most timings taking just a few seconds. Formatting takes eight seconds, CAT three seconds, saving roughly 10 to 15 seconds and loading well under 10 seconds.
The instructions, which admittedly are provisional, say "...after 3 accessments (?), a few seconds rest is recommended.". Presumably they refer to the drive, not the user, but the instructions suggest that the drive is not up to heavy use.
Each disc can hold 100K, 50K on one side, arranged in 2.5K sectors. The drive is single sided so the discs must be taken out and turned over to reach the other side.
The commands used to access the disc are a re-hash of the microdrive commands. You can SAVE and LOAD Basic, code and data, FORMAT the disc, obtain a CAT, ERASE files or COPY them from one drive to another. They also contain some interesting anomalies.
The command to save is SAVE *d;t; "filename" where'd' is the drive and Y is the type of file - Basic, code, data. To load any file you use LOAD *d; "filename."
Despite scouring the manual - and not exactly being a stranger to disc drives - I could not find a way to save a Basic program so that it auto ran.
The one good feature of the drive is that it only uses the printer buffer. That means you can clear down to as low as 24000 and still use the drive. Transferring your programs to disc is, therefore, made easier.
For the price, and the ease of use, it is well worth considering but the commands are basic and not well thought out.
Radofin Electronics (UK) Ltd, Hyde House, The Hyde, London, NW9 6LG.