Left and right mouse buttons appear on the left of the screen and on the right, a completely unmarked touchpad area. These work together well, though their range is necessarily limited. You can point and click at things, but, obviously enough, you can’t enter any text. To perform that feat you need the keyboard.
To access the keyboard you slide the screen section away from you, then pull it up at an angle. The hinges are solid enough to anchor the screen anywhere between flat and about 80 degrees. The mechanism itself feels as though it might not last forever and probably needs to be treated quite gently and with a fair amount of respect.
The keyboard is full Qwerty with the numeric row of keys the same size as the alpha ones. The numeric row doubles up to offer Fn keys. You need a decisive, hard press to register keystrokes, and we found the pressure required was not uniform. This took some getting used to and accurate typing necessitated a quite severely reduced speed. A Fn key combination can toggle backlight on and off which helps when using the PsiXpda in darker conditions.
The 5in screen is sharp and bright, but its 800 x 480 pixels aren’t really enough to let you use Windows XP Pro and associated applications efficiently across the board. It was OK for Web browsing, but less so for composing documents.
Writing this article using the copy of OpenOffice that was pre-installed on our review sample was a bit tedious. The text itself renders quite small to the screen and you can’t see a lot of document height at any one time. Add in the need for relatively slow typing and, in sheer productivity terms, we’d choose a netbook every time.
The keyboard responsiveness is somewhat inconsistent
You can set the display to all four screen orientations, thanks to Intel GMA driver for ultra mobile resident in the system tray. We found ourselves using the portrait orientation quite a lot for reading text. One other screen annoyance is worth flagging. When working in standard laptop computer mode, Windows dialogue boxes were sometimes too tall for the screen.
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.