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|AMSTRAD Cartridge Console Date Set (New Computer Express)|
September launch for three new CPC machines
Exclusive details of a new line-up of Amstrad CPC machines have been leaked to Express.
The three new machines will be launched this September. Speculation throughout the industry has been running high since initial details of a CPC console were revealed by Express last autumn
It is now clear, that Amstrad will be launching a full line-up of new CPC machines based on improved technology and cartridge-based loading systems.
The entry-level machine will be an Amstrad CPC console. It will cost £100, but will be pitched as technically superior to 8-bit rivals such as the Sega and Nintendo. The plug-in cartridges will hold between 256K and 512K each and will cost about £15.
Top software houses in the UK and on the continent are already converting their top games for the machine. However, all have signed non-disclosure agreements described by one source as “absolutely vile”.
Companies likely to be working with Amstrad will include US Gold, Ocean, Domark, and Activision. There is speculation that Virgin - already involved in the distribution of the UK market-leading Sega console - will also supply software for the Amstrad machine.
The second machine is provisionally called the 464 Plus. It is a tape-based machine with a full keyboard and a cartridge port added.
Amstrad is also hiking the technical specifications of the CPC series with either 32 or 64 colours on screen instead of the current 16. Total colours will be up to 256 - a considerable leap from only 27.
Hardware developers in Amstrad's Brentwood headquarters have also been concentrating on the CPC's sound capabilities. Current models are only capable of emitting three sounds simultaneously. The pgraded models will be able to handle up to nine simultaneous sounds.
All improvements are due to custom video and sound chips which have been under development for almost a year.
The third machine is the 6128 Plus. Again, this is an improved version of its predecessor with a cartridge port added.
The 464 Plus and 6128 Plus will be 100 per cent downwardly compatible and will be able to run all of the hundreds of CPC programs currently available.
And the CPC console will not be short of software. Games publishers will experience little difficulty in converting tape- and disk-based games to the cartridge format.
Amstrad has yet to set price levels for the 464 Plus and 6128 Plus. Marketing plans are far from complete for any of the new range, and the company is expected to stick to its usual policy of holding back any official announcement until the actual launch.
A spokesman for Amstrad told Express: "I haven't heard of any of these machines. I'm sure Amstrad have a number of product launches planned but we'll just have to wait until September to see if you're right."
The new machines will give the five-year-old CPC machine a real boost. The CPC console will be backed by a multimillion pound advertising campaign which will aim to make it one of next winter's biggest-selling home entertainment products.
New Computer Express #68 (24 February 1990)