THE PRICE of the QL has been slashed in half, making it the only 16-bit microcomputer for less than £200.00.
The move comes at the start of what Sinclair Research claims to be an aggressive Christmas marketing campaign and should make potential customers think twice before buying machines such as the ST and Amiga.
Jane Boothroyd, UK sales and marketing manager for Sinclair Research says: "We have reduced the price of the QL to consumers in line with reduced manufacturing costs. We will achieve major savings from a substantial increase in manufacturing volume. If the QL price drop is successful in attracting new customers it will bring down the price of software and should entice more software houses into the QL market."
Veronica Colin, of Talent Software, sums up the mood of software houses. "We anticipated that the QL would come down in price and the market should expand. Software prices have not gone down, even with the drop in price of microdrive cartridges, because duplication costs increased by 20 per cent.
"The drop in price of the QL should do us good but hardware companies may have problems as some peripherals now cost more than the QL."
Hardware companies, however, are not too pessimistic. A spokesman for CST, manufacturers of disc drives and interfaces, says: "Anything which boosts the sales of the QL should be seen as a good thing. I would defend the prices of our products as they are selling at the market price.
"The only thing which we are worried about is the effect of the price drop on the QL. It could push the QL down market into the range of the Spectrum Plus. Games manufacturers would have a good time but it would take a while before the children have their fill of it and parents think about serious uses which would require our products."
DELEGATES from the International Banking Summer School look on as Chris Clifton tries to demonstrate a Home Banking Facility on the QL. The facility, tied into the Nottingham Building Society, will allow you to move money from one account to another, check standing orders, order cheque books and pay bills.
A FULL implementation of Lattice C - the Kerninghan and Richie C standard - is available from Metacomco.
It is the first full version of the medium level system development language for the QL and, at £99.95, it is one of the most inexpensive for any computer.
The package includes a detailed user manual, three microdrive cartridges and a ROM which contains part of the operating system and also ensures that the package is virtually pirate proof.
The language will compile to true 68000 code and is compatible with Lattice compilers on the IBM PC. It has a library of Unix, QDOS and utility functions.
The only product to which it could be compared is Prospero C, from Computaware. That company promises a full Kerninghan and Richie implementation but it will not be available until later this year and a price has not been fixed.
THE HOME Accounts Manager is the most competitively priced package in a new accounting program range from Dialog Software.
The first part of the package includes a budget routine into which all day-to-day expenses and standing orders set for banks, buildings societies or other organisations can be placed. The bank account part of the program deals with all cheque transactions and cash dispensers and produces a bank balance.
Transact is the first full book-keeping system for the QL. It can deal with nominal ledger transactions, VAT payments, and profit and loss figures.
The Dialog Sales Ledger and Invoice Processor provides an open item accounting system. It can be used to create invoices from your product tables, take a stock of your products and implement trade discounts on certain lines.
The Transact bookkeeping system and Sales Ledger are priced at £34.95 each while Home Accounts Manager costs £19.95.
A NEW VERSION of the QL may be on the way, according to sources close to Sinclair Research.
The machine, based on QL technology, is likely to have ½ megabyte of RAM, and may offer one inbuilt disc drive instead of the two microdrives. Full versions of the four Psion exchange packages may also be available in ROM on board the computer.
As yet there is no hint of a possible price, but if the machine is launched, the recent QL price cut leaves an obviously attractive niche at the £400 level.