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Psion-Tek netBook in Swiss 4,000 unit GPRS deal

A customer? Good heavens...

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Psion-Teklogix's netBook labours under many disadvantages, among these being: it's a Psion; nobody much buys it; and The Register loves it. Any two out of these three would surely be enough to defeat Hercules, but somehow it doesn't die - and oddly enough it just twitched today, we have a customer.

Actually it really twitched in December, which is when the devices started going into service with Swiss Federal Railways, and although Psion announced the deal in English today, the company's rigorous testing procedures mean that it only did so following a German language beta last month. But joking aside, the company's ability to sign a major customer for 4,000 units, as part of a networked software project, does indicate that the netBook isn't yet in Norwegian Blue territory.

Psion-Teklogix's ability to fulfill Swiss Railways needs stems directly from the release of GPRS and 802.11 support in the OS last year, and the revision of the motherboard so that the PC Card slot would be capable of driving GPRS cards. This project is using GPRS (with an Option card, according to Psion-Tek) to deliver current route data to drivers, and equips drivers "with a modern working tool that lends itself perfectly to future development."

This claim is the clearest sign that the netBook has a future, and given that even its best friends concede that these days it is starting to look a tad geriatric, it suggests future versions.

Last time The Register checked this with Psion-Tek its future was up in the air, and the company today says that although nothing major is planned immediate, development continues. Although there's a CE version of the netPad now, a CE netBook still isn't on the cards. Nor is there any great substance to the 'Psion to return to consumer market' rumour that surfaced last month.

That said, any further netBook revisions would inevitably be sought out by the quantities of die-hards still using 5s, 7s and netBooks. The Teklogix bit of the deal generally does very dull things you can hit with lathes and hose down if you like, but if it does anything with the one that isn't dull, then that will cause the Psion bit to twitch, whether it likes it or not. So we think maybe the rumours stem from something Psion-Tek is at least thinking about. Cross fingers. ®

Obituary

The Register is saddened to announce the apparent demise of its netBook, which drowned in the contents of a bottle of Bordeaux Blanc in the bottom of a Symbian Developer Conference shoulderbag last Friday. "It's how he would have wanted to go," sobbed a distraught owner. Just one week previously the netBook had seemed in perfect health, reporting the Microsoft Office 2003 reviewer's workshop without recharging while Tablet PCs fell over all around him. Sadly, although the IBM Microdrive with the pre-conference backup emerged unscathed from detox, he took the notes from the conference with him. "That's how he'd have wanted to go as well," added the owner. Funeral arrangements will be announced should a visit to Psion-Tek ER in Milton-Keynes prove unsuccessful. No flowers please, but if anybody's got a spare...

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