This is the second of my comparison features between the A500 and
one of the leading other platform computers of the time. Today it
is the turn of the Acorn A3010. The one with the green buttons.
Growing out of their success of the BBC Micro and then surviving
the crash during the Electron era Acorn managed to pull off an
absolute' belter' with the ARM series of machines starting with the
Archimedes range and the A3000. The A3010 does not mention the
BBC, ARM or Archimedes on the body of the machine and even replaces
the red keys with the green ones.
Sadly the Acorn range got the reputation of being an educational
tool and less of a games machine, and no matter how wonderful a
machine this was , just never enticed the gaming community away
from those platforms with a large body of games at their disposal.
Anyhoo, not here to compare the OS or commercial success but to
look at the style of the two computers.
First up I have not got one Acorn that has yellowed. I have no
idea how they did it but they are all whiter than white and look
as new as the day they were made. I love the Acorn logo and top
styling as it is incredibly robust and very easy to keep dust free.
The floppy drive with the green button is kinda cute and also is
able to read HD disks which is a great bonus. To the rear there
are the options of TV and RGB and so monitor selection was a
little easier. The boot process also auto detects your monitor
that is connected.
The Amiga side interface still rules, though the Acorn has good
reason for the Thunderbird 2 podule at the back, as you can fit
an expansion with hard drive etc in the space at the rear.
The Acorn system uses quite a unique mouse and the jack at the
back only permits use of an Acorn mouse so without one your kinda
stuffed as they say. It has two joysticks though and so gaming
was always envisaged for the computer.
So how do I rate the design. As a collector who likes to look at
attractive kit I can never fault the Acorn range. The shape and
compact nature make it a winner. It also has the power built in
and a reset switch which I would have appreciated on the A500.
The Acorn is solid and robust whereas the A500 feels a little light
and ' plastic ' feel. The keys are way better on the Acorn and it
is again just wonderful having an OS style interface on boot.
The A500 always wins cus of the trapdoor and side expansion for
me. There is just so much kit I can connect to the A500. Also
the A500 benefits from such a vast catalogue of games and software
and no matter how I might like the look of the Acorn I kinda see
it as having a shallow pool of support items. I prefer the Acorn
over the Atari, hands down. I also prefer the Acorn in terms of
its aesthetic over the A500. However it fails at ever level when
compared with an A1200.
I would certainly recommend any collector getting an Acorn A3010
cus they are a dream and look wonderful without any face scraping.
Make sure you get a mouse and remember to hit the delete or R on
boot to get into the RISC OS. One word of caution and that is the
problem of the battery. These things have a large battery inside
and it will destroy the computer. Its not the barrel style and is
a bit more resilient, but it will attack the motherboard.
You have to give credit to Acorn for giving us the 'ARM' chip. So
having a collectors piece like this is really a great bit of
history. Just magic.