PsiXpda pocket computer
Psion of the times?
Review About 10 years ago, Psion's handheld computers were the ones to beat and the Psion Series 5 was at the top of the heap. The keyboard was tiny but so well designed that it was really possible to touchtype on it. Indeed, the Series 5 set the standard for others to emulate, and, quite simply, as far as usability is concerned no other small format device since has come close.
New series? PsiXpda's Pocket Computer
The PsiXpda doesn’t claim to be a Series 5 for the modern world but – being brought to us by the pairing of an ex-Psion employee and a handheld computing enthusiast – hopes are high that it might recapture some past glory. It falls into the UMPC category, being a fully-fledged Windows XP Professional machine.
Relying on an Intel Atom processor, the PsiXpda has a 5in screen and relatively sizeable keyboard, 16GB of SSD storage and microSD card support. It also features Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and a SIM card slot for mobile data – all quite alluring, really.
You’d need a pretty large pocket to accommodate the PsiXpda. It measures 174mm x 84mm x 25mm and weighs 430g, which is enough to drag down any pocket you can find for it. The provided protective neoprene sleeve means it’ll languish safely in a bag, though.
You’ll need the sleeve for protection, as the screen on the outside so you can use the PsiXpa without resorting to its keyboard. To help with this there are some controls to the left and right of the display, and the screen itself is touch sensitive. Nestled inside one corner of the chassis is a stylus, no larger than those found on a typical smartphone. We found a fingertip or the end of pen was more convenient to use for prodding at the screen.
If the screen isn't finger friendly enough you can revert to the stylus
There’s a VGA webcam to the left of the screen, which you can use for video conferencing and two banks of three status lights sitting at the top left and right edges of the screen section. To the right are two buttons to raise and lower the screen backlighting.
What a disappointment
I never had a Series 5, but I did have both a Series 3 and 3a and both were positively svelte compared to this.
Dare I say it? Psion at their best were like a UK Apple when it came to industrial design.
This is pig-ugly and running an OS that really isn't tailored for the form-factor.
Contrast to the Series 3/3a OS (only because I know less about the Series 5): proper multitasking, extremely capable PIM/word processor/spreadsheet/database/programming environment, and all running in 256k of RAM. And about 3 months on 2xAAs. OK so it lacked a touch screen and any kind of multimedia which would be essential now, but in a decade of use I think I only had to reset the thing about 3 times. Now that's stable!
Something this clunky, with a desktop OS that only lasts a couple of hours on a full charge, really doesn't cut it in a world where you can get a netbook for less if you want to type a lot, or you can get an iPhone or Android phone for less: both much more pocketable and entirely capable of doing most of what you want to do on the move apart from write a thesis.
The previous poster who suggested that someone should licence the Series 5 case design and put modern hardware and software into it was spot on.
Psion of the times?
If this is 'state of the art' for 'the times', then I think there's been an interruption in the blah, blah, blah.
Psions had style, a bullet proof OS and were works of art in their own right. Just give me a Series 5 chassis with network connectivity...
I want it
But with a better battery. What I've wanted from my phone for some time now (and this does voice calls from the sound of it) is a Windows (real, not CE) device that I can, when required, do real work on.
I don't mind charging it each night. But it has to last a day.
Good step now lets see what they can do next
I like this direction. We do need a pocket computer that's not deficient in todays tech. It's my hope the next one has even more RAM and storage. Also good to see the very good Windows XP in use here. It would do MS well to keep it available just for this kind of device.
Yes, yes, yes....
...it's all well and good, but what does JF Mezei think?
There's no point making this device if it's only going to end up as yet another £500 paper weight.