Dear community members!
It has been a while since my last timeline post! I hope you all doing excellently since then! As for me, I’ve been working super hard behind the scenes non-stop and losing hair every single day. It can be stressful working on a project like Spectrum that you know will be something wonderful at the destination but the road leading to it can be a bit bumpy. We have been pushing really hard from many different sides, and we’re moving forward. If time is what it takes to deliver you a complete product, we should take it and do things right.
Though Spectrum’s hardware is just about final, we do still make small tweaks and changes in cases where we feel it improves the product. This mostly involves adjusting tooling tolerances to make sure everything fits together perfectly. But there are some noteworthy changes:
Paint it black
We mentioned in one of our previous updates that we now paint the quick-release hook and mounting plate on the stand so that they don’t stand out amidst the other parts
Firmware updates are important to us, just as they are to you. But many monitors offer no way of upgrading the firmware once they leave the assembly line. A combination of firmware changes and some small changes to Spectrum’s mainboard now should allow firmware updates over USB. To ensure your device isn’t bricked if something goes wrong during the update (such as a power outage), Spectrum will automatically roll back to the previous firmware if there is an issue during the flashing process.
Fix the stick
Finally, we have also identified a trio of issues with the joystick. One had to do with the design and its usability, and the stick itself is being redesigned to catch the fingertip better. This provides snappier, more responsive control over the OSD.
This redesign also changes how the stick connects to the rest of the monitor, making it more sturdy. We expect the joystick redesign to be finished in about a month with testing and re-testing for each iteration of the design.
Finally, there was an issue with the packaging that could cause damage to the joystick’s switch. This is being resolved with a change to the Spectrum box so that outside pressure during transit no longer affects the joystick.
The to-do list for our firmware team is still long, and as we mentioned before, most of the work ahead is related to firmware.
The latest challenges our firmware team overcame have to do with the monitor’s basic functions and factory command (FC).
Essential functions like the proper functioning of ports are important for customers in the long run; in the short term, they also lay the foundation on which further firmware changes can be built and tested efficiently. As a bonus, Spectrum can now automatically detect and switch to an active input.
FC encompasses built-in software to set up and test Spectrum on the production line. Ensuring all the ports work (both input and output), reading and writing extended display identification data (EDID), monitoring power consumption, generating calibration images, and burning in the monitor before post-assembly line testing are all part of this. The FC portion of the firmware allows many of these processes to be streamlined or even automated.
More to come
A lot of the team’s focus has been on making sure the basics work as they should. From here on, the firmware engineers have completely set their sights on features that are probably dearer to our audience, such as making sure adjustments and features work as intended. Only when the firmware’s functional aspects are in order will they move on to cosmetic details like the OSD menu design.
Where we are
With tooling ready and the production line planned out, we are mostly awaiting parts, certification, testing, and firmware updates. We’ve mentioned in a previous post how parts with a long lead time had already been ordered, and we’ve had more parts orders confirmed since then. The first batch of 8000 display panels is slated to arrive at the factory in February, with more to come soon.
Some certifications are based on testing we can do in-house, others rely on shipping samples to third-party labs or are waiting for more mature firmware to allow for proper evaluation. We will keep you informed as certification results come in.
Our DVT samples are being continuously tested to evaluate the hardware’s state and new iterations of the firmware. We should have an update detailing some of these tests coming up soon!
Firmware is, at this time, a sticking point. Like any software development, it is often unpredictable, with new challenges popping up just as another is overcome. Our firmware team has been challenged more than usual with our unique blend of cutting-edge tech and uncommon feature combinations. Even though we do not need the firmware to be finalized until just before mass production, at this point, we no longer expect to hit our target of February 26th and will have to adjust our timeline.
What we are doing
We want to bring our monitor to market as soon as possible, and we understand that many customers are waiting (patiently or not) to put Spectrum on their desk. Even so, we believe that the priority should always be on delivering a good product. If you are looking at Spectrum for years to come, we do not want to ruin that experience by rushing steps, especially now that we are so close to the finish line.
At every milestone, we re-evaluate our timeline and our shipping dates. With more time taken than anticipated to implement factory command, we have, as mentioned, decided that our previous shipping target is no longer realistic.
The new shipping date for model 3 with the 144Hz 4K UHD panel is April 20th.
The new shipping date for model 2 with the 240Hz QHD panel is April 30th.
The new shipping date for model 1 with the 144Hz QHD panel is end of Q2.
We are not just moving the shipping date and calling it a day. Our two-person firmware team has also just been reinforced by a third firmware engineer. This means more minds are at work, and more experience is being shared to make sure everything works as it should.
The adjusted timeline will give the firmware team the time they need to do the job right, give our team and third-parties time to test and certify the monitor, and ensure that when you receive Spectrum, it will be a joy to use.
We appreciate all of you who follow our project and are along for the ride, and I’ll keep you updated on the progress. Talk soon!
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