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Psion launches Series 5mx – the 5 ‘Second Edition’

Faster, cleaned-up, includes the stuff they promised (oops) to put in the last one...

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Today in London Psion unveiled the product that the Series 5 pocket organiser should have been. The Series 5mx fixes defects and delivers on promises made two years ago. But alongside what is essentially a holding action, Psion previewed a larger, notebook-style machine, the netBook. The netBook won't be available until later this year, and as a product of Psion's Psion Enterprise operation is aimed at the corporate market. Psion hasn't been involved in the notebook arena since the comparative flop of the MC400/600 a few years back, but this time around the market may be more receptive. The machine is billed as "the world's first truly mobile network computer," and will be Java-enabled from the start. That of course is one of the sore points of the Series 5. Psion promised Java support for the machine at the launch, but has only been able to deliver on this with the 5mx and its faster 36MHz processor. The Series 5 also launched without full communications, Web and mobile phone support, and although these eventually did show up after a fashion, they were relatively piggy to use (said one highly-placed journalist user). The 5mx allegedly sorts this out (we'll let you know once we've played with a review unit), and alongside it Psion has announced a specially tailored Web portal plus a worldwide network of access points. The 5mx also has a new case. Veteran users will be aware that the 5's coating tends to peel off, so we can call this a bug-fix. It's due out on 1 July, price £430. The netBook breaks the mould by being Psion's first colour machine (VGA), and by adding a PC Card slot. This was previously anathema to the company, but the compact flash slot of the Series 5 (the netBook has this as well) hasn't yet won the widespread industry support that was previously anticipated. Both machines run EPOC Release 5, announced today by Symbian. Release 5, oddly enough, contains most of the software gear that didn't ship with the 5 first time around. Email, fax and SMS, multiple users, a new contacts database and seamless PC synchronisation, plus Java JDK 1.1.4 implementation, data synchronisation, file format conversion, infrared exchange, and of course colour. This fairly hefty list of features of course adds up more or less to a shippable package of operating and applications software for licensees, the idea that Symbian sells them a sufficiently large pile of stuff for them to get moving straight away. We hear Ericsson is likely to be in hot pursuit shortly with a communicator device that has quite a lot in common with the 5mx. Register launch PR award goes to Psion press office, for inviting the wrong person from The Register, failing to tell us where the launch was, and then all going out for the day of the big announcement without leaving anybody manning the Press office. An outstanding performance which alone would have secured the award. The immediate appearance of a commercial for the product on the site, but no press release and no obvious information on price, specification and availability can therefore be seen simply as added heroism. Symbian's efforts were in a different league altogether. It shipped us the press release on time, marred only by a slight infestation of (tsk) Microsoft smartquotes. Well done, Psion Press Office, and be more trying next time if you want the award, Symbian. ®

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