Vintage Psion prototype: Yours for £85,000
Worst paperweight ever
An unreleased Psion prototype can be yours for a mere £85,000 - if you hurry. Just don't expect it to do anything.
The item listed on eBay dates from 2001, and is a prototype of "Conan", the monochrome Revo model with Bluetooth that was due to ship that summer, based on Symbian (nee Epoc) Release 6.
Don't expect it to do much, even if you can get it to power up - ER6, which supported Unicode, broke binary compatibility with earlier Epoc-based Psions. The device never reached the market - Psion withdrew from the consumer market in June 2001.
A few dozen Bluetooth Revos were made, and one pops up every couple of years, typically fetching around £30 to £50. As you might expect, this is a publicity stunt/punt by PsiXPda's Paul Pinnock, who founded a Psion repair and service centre in Croydon in 1995 and still services and sells the ancient devices.
The Bluetooth Revo: yes, that really is WAP
A couple of years ago, Pinnock rebadged a UMPC running XP and sold it under the PsiXPDA brand (review). He tells us it sold out its 2,000 unit production but it was no Psion, and Pinnock now admits it was "not fast enough and not good enough".
Pinnock now plans to launch a new device in the pocket-sized Psion Series 5 MX form factor, running Android. A better choice for this kind of device, we would agree.
The conventional wisdom is that mechanical keyboards are going the way of the VCR, and that the virtual keyboard provided on a full touchscreen is good enough. RIM recently lowered sales forecasts for devices with its hallmark integrated physical keyboard, leading to its shares being downgraded. But nothing on the market allows you to touch-type (rather than hunt and peck) and also fits in a jacket pocket - and hasn't since the palmtop market disappeared with Psion's consumer PDAs a decade ago.
You'd think in an era of Twittering and high volume messaging, a device that meets such a demand might carve out some sort of niche. ®
".....is that mechanical keyboards are going the way of the VCR, and that the virtual keyboard provided on a full touchscreen is good enough."
Ah, so no change there in the meaning of "conventional wisdom" then? I.E: A complete and utter pile of inaccurate steaming bollocks, displaying breathtaking levels of mind-numbing stupidity and a total lack of anything resembling the vaguest fucking clue.
Some of the best selling Android phones are QWERTY sliders. I wouldn't buy a smartphone that doesn't have some sort of physical keyboard. Touch screen keyboards are horrible.
Mmm... Psion Series 5mx with Android...
Speaking as a former 5mx owner (back in the early-2000s), I still think the form-factor has a lot to recommend it. Resurrect the 5mx-type design (perhaps fixing the screen cable flaw?), add in a capactitative (AM)OLED touch-screen, WiFi, Bluetooth and other typical 2011 device features, and perhaps a "phone-friendly" Android version (Gingerbread?), and I'd consider one if I were in the market for a tablet.
Or maybe the Eee Pad Transformer is calling...
I absolutely agree...
There's been a gap in the market for years for a "psion" sized device which can be carried in a pocket but have a keyboard big enough for comfortable thumb-typing while travelling. I've tried a few of the swivel-clamshell phones (e.g. the O2 XDA) but the keyboards have simply been too small.
That said, there are a couple of devices with the right form-factor, which I saw when stumbling around China's electronic market the other week while on holiday. Casio do an electronic dictionary which is physically the right size, but is somewhat crippled on the OS/software side. There's a few MID devices with keyboards (Aigo do one with a slide-down keyboard similar to the Nokia N810/N900) , but the "flat" form factor isn't great and it's running some sort of custom OS. And there was also a smattering of "educational" ultra portables, similar to the Casio but with slightly more functionality - but they're designed for young chinese students (i.e. primary school age), so the functionality is a bit limited. Though one did have a lot of potential: the display sat inside a frame, so it could be flipped 180 degrees to turn the device into a tablet.
All told, if someone could get one of these devices and slap Android onto it, I'd buy one in a heartbeat...
The thing that killed it for me was the rechargeable and non-replaceable batteries. They should have kept it working on disposables like Series 3 and 5.