Psion's Series 9, Odin found in Norwegian wood

Symbian's Crystal breaks cover

Pictures of Psion's successor to the Series 5 have been published by Norwegian site Wapland. Snaps of a prototype of the joint Psion/Motorola Quartz phone, 'Project Odin', are also online on the same page.

It's the first time we've seen instances of the Crystal reference design, a half-VGA (320x240) keyboard-based specification on which Nokia and Psion will base the successors to their 9000 and Series 5 ranges. This may or may not eventually appear as a Psion 'Series 9' - and since it's every bit as much a phone as a PDA, Psion could well go for a new brand altogether.

Of course the pictures could simply be a creative use of Photoshop, inspired by the Nordic custom of drinking hallucinogenic reindeer urine - if the dubious but enduring myth can be believed. According to this myth, reindeers are fond of munching fly agaric, which is noted for its psychoactive properties, although why the Laps would take this circuitous route to delirium when the mushrooms themselves are lying around is beyond us. Maybe they're just taking the piss. But we digress, and we'll update you as soon as we get word from Psion.

On the other hand, it's very believable. The unnamed Psion Crystal device has all the hallmarks of long-time Psion industrial designer Martin Riddiford. And in particular, his singular gift for hiding odd functionality such as voice recorder controls so discreetly that you don't mind they're there.

From the photos, the Crystal model is a curved case, reminiscent of Psion's Series 3 range, and the "back" of the device has an additional small LCD, green and red send/disconnect buttons common to all mobile phones, and scroll bars for navigating the internal address book without opening the case.

With no side view, and no pictures of the device in relation to anything recognisable, it's impossible to tell how large it is, or whether the patented Psion hinge has been used.

There are fewer surprises with Project Odin - the name given to the joint Motorola-Psion Quartz collaboration - if only because the Quartz reference design has been more fully documented than its Crystal and Pearl siblings. The model pictured opts for a slide down front panel - not unlike the Nokia 7110 phone. However the panel has a cut-out which allows status information to be seen without needing to move the fascia, so presumably voice activation would be the simplest way of dialing a number. But failing that, Quartz has an address book (it's a PDA of course) and we guess, a big old-fashioned keypad. Again, without reference material, it's not possible to say how big this is, although mock-ups we've seen point to something only slightly larger than today's Palm handhelds.

Devices derived from Symbian's Crystal and Quartz specs are expected in volume by the middle of next year, and are available to all comers. Last week's demonstration by Sanyo of a Quartz phone should help dispel the notion that it's a members-only club. Sanyo only signed up as a Symbian licensee in June, and demonstrated a working prototype in localised Japanese Epoc. ®

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