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The Icon Bar: News and features: The RiscStation Portable system

The RiscStation Portable system

Posted by RiscStation Ltd on 00:00, 8/2/2002 | , , ,
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The Physics

The dimensions are 250mm(width) x 200mm(length) x 30mm(height)
The weight of the portable base unit is about 1.3Kg
The case is cast in a magnesium alloy which gives the unit an extremely modern look and feel. To touch it feels like a space-age material, and to hold it feels light but substantial. From the moment we saw the prototype unit we knew we were looking at a first serious and modern RISC OS machine that was presentable to non-RISC users without the word 'old' passing their lips. You really must see, touch and use the new system to appreciate its quality - it's remarkable.

The Onboard Screen

The screen is an 8.4" TFT display with touch screen capability.
The operating resolution is 800x600 pixels showing 32 thousand colours on screen, though our ongoing developments may see the new portable sporting 64 thousand colours!
The touchscreen is another innovation that launches our new portable into the modern computing market. RISC OS will be fully navigable using the high-resolution touchscreen, as well as giving you the ability to draw diagrams etc. directly onto the screen!
The pen is used mainly as a point and click device, enabling you to drag and drop, double click to open and run programs, and to generally navigate through RISC OS. Menu button operations are handled via the buttons on the portable, though we are currently looking into ways of handling 'virtual' buttons with the pen.
Sitting in front of the modern, stylish magnesium console and navigating through the operating system with the weighty metal pen on the screen is fantastic! Definitely something to be proud of whilst using on the train, and robust enough to trust children with in the classroom.

External Monitoring

It is also possible to drive external monitors, televisions or projectors for presentations or tutorials. External screen resolutions up to and including 1600x1200 pixels are achievable with the new RiscStation portable, and it is also possible to view on the LCD and external displays simultaneously in certain resolutions.
A modern SVHS output is included for connection to televisions, projectors or video recorders etc. that are equipped with SVHS, SCART or video input connections.

Input devices

A glidepoint touchpad with two buttons is set into the magnesium alloy casing, below the keyboard.
The keyboard itself has adequately sized keys, which sound out quality with every tap. The contrast between the metallic magnesium casing and black keys is cool, which lends to the modern, if not futuristic, look.
The touchpad is compact yet perfectly comfortable to use. It also acts as a button if tapped, so combined with the two buttons below it, gives compatibility with the three-button logic employed by the RISC OS operating system as well as feeling perfectly natural to use.
Support for an external mouse is catered for via the onboard USB or Mini Serial Socket should neither the glidepoint nor touchscreen be sufficient, though external mouse support may not be available immediately at the time of launch.

The Processor

The processor used inside the portable is the 64Mhz Arm7500 FPE. An extremely capable RISC processor that generates very little heat and consumes much less power than Intel and AMD processors, ideal for a portable unit giving extended battery life whilst delivering more than ample processing power for the casual user, businessman, and student alike.
Remember that this processor is a RISC processor, not a CISC processor like most PC's. Leaving aside the technical explanation, this means that the 64Mhz rating means very little as a comparative figure - can you imagine a modern PC running at 64Mhz?
RiscStation computers contain high quality, modern motherboards designed not to restrain the Arm7500 processor and to let it perform up to the manufacturer's specification. No other RISC OS computer manufacturer has ever used the Arm7500 to it's full potential like RiscStation have, and this is why other RISC OS machines cannot be used as an indication of the processors abilities. Our Arm7500 powered computers benchmark quicker than the

  • A7000 (using the Arm7500)
  • A7000+ (using the Arm7500)
  • Microdigital Mico (using the Arm7500)
  • RiscPC600 (using the Arm610)
  • RiscPC700 (using the Arm710)
...and quicker in some tests than the StrongArm RiscPC (using the StrongArm 200 or 233)!

Operating system

The operating system used on the RiscStation portable is RISC OS 4.
There are currently no plans to support RISC OS Select, though it is technically possible if we wished to incorporate it in the future.
Programming user details into the operating system is technically possible, as with the RiscStation R7500 machines the portable has been designed in such a way as to allow this function, though we currently do not support it fully. With the obvious security concerns that go with owning a portable computer, we will be addressing this feature in the near future.


The portable contains 64Mb of 50ns memory as standard, providing more than enough memory for RISC OS and the memory-economic programs that run on it. Our ongoing developments may provide us with a memory upgrade socket, though this is purely space dependent. 32Mb machines may be manufactured for clients with such a requirement.

Hard Drive Storage

The standard portable arrives with a 10Gb 2.5" high-speed IDE drive. Machines fitted with an optional 20Gb (or larger) drive will be available as an option - prices yet to be confirmed.

The Docking Station

Unfortunately we are unable to give you the exact dimensions and weight of the docking station at this time. The docking station is expected to be approximately the same width and depth as the portable itself, with a slightly greater length.
The docking station contains both a CDROM Drive (a minimum of 40x read) and a floppy disc drive (1.6Mb).
The docking station will also host Serial, Parallel, VGA, PS2 and Power connections.
The function of the docking station is to provide extra input/output whilst in a stationary location or a location with adequate power supply such as mains supply, or cigarette lighter socket etc. The docking station will not draw power from the battery of the portable.
This modular design enables the portable to shed the extra weight and power drainage of unused peripherals out in the field, making it an attractive solution to those who want maximum portability, minimum luggage. Less weight, less bulk, longer running times - a truly portable system.
For those who do require CD or Floppy access whilst on the move we will soon be releasing lightweight, slimline solutions that will simply plug into the USB ports and go! See below for more information.


The Lithium Iron battery unit features an excellent quick release system that allows the battery to be changed in seconds. The silver battery 'stick' forms part of the portable's rear structure and is easy to grip, swap and store. You can immediately tell that even this relatively insignificant area of design has been carefully thought through, just another detail that adds to the overall quality feel of the portable.
The standard battery provided should supply in excess of 2 hours constant operating time, and this is expected to increase with further refinements of our power saving software.
The optional high capacity battery should supply over 4 hours of continuous operating time, and again this is expected to increase with further development of our power saving software.
The portable can be powered by the small 20v DC mains adapter included. This adapter is also used to recharge the battery and may also be used to recharge whilst the portable is in use or connected to the docking station.

Additional Information

Due to popular demand we have introduced a Midi port to the design of the laptop which will cater for musical equipment control and other midi in/out controlled devices.
Another popular request has been for an integrated serial port without the need for the docking station. We will now be implementing this feature in the way of a compact mini serial port as found on Apple Macintosh computers. This port will function in exactly the same way as a 9 Pin serial connector. Optional cables may be required depending on the application. Prices are yet to be announced and will be relatively inexpensive.
10/100 Networking, yet another popular request, has now been included in the standard design.
It is our priority to develop support for the following external devices:

  • External USB Floppy Drive and CDROM Drive
  • PCMCIA Card 56k Modem
  • External USB CDRW

General Specifications as of January 2002

64 Mhz ARM7500FPE Processor
(with integrated floating point co-processor)
RISC OS 4 Operating System
64Mb 50ns System Memory
10Gb 2.5" EIDE Hard Drive
Luxury Magnesium Alloy Casing
8.4" TFT Touchscreen Display
Concealed Heavyweight Metal Pen
77 Key Quality Black Keyboard
2 Button Glidepoint Touchpad
Built-In Stereo Speakers
Internal Hands Free Microphone
Full 16Bit OPL3 Stereo Sound Sampler & Mixer
1 x 3.5mm Mic In Jack Socket
1 x 3.5mm Headphone & Speaker Out Jack Socket
2 x USB Connections
1 x Mini Serial Connector
1 x Mini Midi Port
1 x 10/100base Network Port
1 x 15Pin VGA Connector
1 x SVHS TV Output
1 x PCMCIA Slot
1 x IRDA Infrared Transceiver
1 x 20v DC Power Connection
1 x Docking Station Connection Port
Mains Power Supply Included
Software Bundle (to be announced)
The pricing options so far are as follows :

Portable Base Unit Only

999.00 + VAT

1173.83 Inc. VAT

Portable Base Unit & Docking Station

1248.00 + VAT

1466.40 Inc. VAT

Additional Docking Station

249.00 + VAT

292.58 Inc. VAT

High Capacity Battery Stick

To Be Announced

Car Power Adapter

To Be Announced

There will also be a selection of parts available such as mains power adapters, replacement touch-pens, midi and serial cables etc. Prices for which will be available soon.
We estimate shipping to commence at the end of April 2002.
RiscStation Ltd.
168 Elliot Street
M29 8DS
United Kingdom
Tel : +44 (0) 1942 797777
Fax : +44 (0) 1942 797711

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The Icon Bar: News and features: The RiscStation Portable system