Recently I’ve been getting back to playing around with some ZX Spectrum hardware. I originally picked up a ZX Spectrum +2 back in September of 2010. Played a few games on it then put in to storage so I could focus on other projects. Then a few weeks back I managed to get hold of two more spectrum systems. A ZX Spectrum + and a ZX Spectrum + 128k. They were both sold as faulty and untested, but I managed to get them both working.
I'm interested in these systems mainly for gaming, as there are loads of retro/unique titles for this platform. With a lot of them being freely available to download as TAP, SNA or Z80 “ROM” files.
But one thing that puts people off is that most of the games originally loaded from a cassette tape, that lead to slow loading times. To over come this issue there are a few programs available on the internet that allow loading of game much faster. This is known as “turbo loading”. More info here: http://code.google.com/p/otla/ I have successfully used this program to load games to my spectrums. I've also used an mp3 player to load games.
There is all so a piece of hardware realised for the ZX Spectrums know as the DIVIDE. That allows the user to connect standard IDE drives to the spectrum. So that programs and games can be loaded instantly from hard disks or compact flash cards. (I want one! I've yet to acquire one.) More info here: http://baze.au.com/divide/
One thing to put in consideration with all of the older spectrum models is that various keys on the keyboard will stop working over time. This is due to the keyboard membrane becoming worn out. So it is a good idea to get the membrane replaced. Various sellers on ebay and the web are offering newly manufactured membranes. Available for most of the older spectrum models. To get your spectrum’s keyboard properly working again. I replaced the membrane in my Spectrum + 128k as a whole row of keys did not work. Though be aware that it can be a bit of a faf to get the new membrane to work, because it has to be perfectly aligned for all the keys to work as they should.
Some useful ZX Specturm websites: