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back to article The return of the Psion-sized PC

The Psion-sized PC is back, in the form of an Atom-based pocket computer. The return is thanks to two names familiar to the Epoc community - former Psion employee Paul Pinnock of Croydon repair shop POS Ltd, and broadcaster Ewan Spence, an editor at AllAboutSymbian. Or as we still fondly think of it, AllAboutER6. The first …

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That's not a Psion rip off

It's a Toshiba Libretto. Takes me back to the 90's though. Happy days

http://www.squit.co.uk/computers/photos/libretto.jpg

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Problems...

How will it be instant on/off if it runs XP? Also, the keyboard doesn't seem to be up to the same standard as the Psion Series 5 one. Much prefer the Psion's form-factor as well because the screen is protected. Finally, at £500 it's overpriced. Who will buy this when there are more competent netbooks to be had for ~£200?

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still hanging onto those british claims to fail

Why is it we brits feel the need to try and sabotage our every attempt at success?

Surely they could have come up with a better name for both the device (hardly rolls off the tongue, it's like we're back in the 80's/90's for naming conventions!) and their company name hardly inspires confidence.. POS Ltd... Piece Of Shit Limited?

Pay a bit of good money on a marketing dept... please, I'd so love to see a resurgence in the UK hardware space for British genius to shake up electronics markets once again!

*puts on his jacket with "Psion could have been a UK Sony" emblazoned on the back*

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Nearly there

I hope they go back to their roots and launch an ARM/Linux version soon - lots more battery life and a £300 price tag?

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Try this for size

You want ARM/Linux check out openpadora its just what you need.

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Wifi?

Is there any wifi?

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eh ?

"nothing on the market today" ? What about the N900 from Nokia ?

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Anonymous Coward

In a box of this size

In a box of this size I do not want or need an Intel CPU and I do not want or need a Windows OS (even if they have had the good sense to use XP rather than CE or Win7).

I need an ARM CPU for battery life and a non-WIndows OS for battery life and stability.

It might have been interesting for the article author to ask the chaps whether any such plans could be disclosed.

Also: does it/could it do Bluetooth, and does it/could it have a SIM socket (if you get my drift)? Or does that require all kinds of messy approvals from the cellphone network operators?

I wish the chaps the best of luck anyway, but I for one am not a potential customer until they get rid of the Wintel Inside.

(Former owner of HP95, Psion 3, Jornada 720 handheld PCs. Note: no Intel, and not much Windows)

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Coat

Psion 3

The Psion 3 had x86 type processors

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"it's open for hacking"

It also sez here that there are "3G options" on connectivity so, how long before someone writes a phone app for it and reminds us all of what killed these things off in the first place?

The laws of irony demand it.

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Go

Wishing this was as good as my 5mx

but will it run Snow Leopard...?

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FAIL

500 quid!?!

The Nokia N900 costs that, already runs Linux *and* has a phone built in!

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Alert

Please read the specs first!

Please read the specs. For £500 you also get 3G!

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Oh how I yearn for an updated Series 5mx

Nothing has come close since. Superb hardware. Superb software. I mourn the passing of the Series 5mx. All it needs now is bluetooth, wi-fi and a decent screen.

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FAIL

Why bother?

So you get all the inconvenience of a keyboard that's too small to type, but with none of the power of a decent netbook.

If you want pocket-sized computers, get an Android or even an iPhone. If you want an ultraportable computer that can do more stuff than a smartphone, get a netbook.

This is a compromise - not small enough to slip in a pocket, but too small to be properly usable. It's an answer without a question.

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FAIL

But...the keyboard....

It's all wrong! The whole point of the psion was you got a nice angled bigish keyboard. They didn't even bother taking the keys right to the edge of that monstrosity. And the hinge they've used actually makes the keyboard smaller and the screen ludicrously vertical. You really have to wonder about these people!

I think the old psion 5 chassis was just about perfect. You could probably just about fit in an arm based linux/android/something machine in there. Just scale the whole thing up a bit if you want to squeeze an atom in there.

Instead these idiots have bought the designs and left out the best aspects.

and sorry...what? £500!

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WTF?

Not only that

...but it's a Yank layout, too.

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Alien

DNA

Where was the Douglas Adams reference? He famously? once wrote a chapter on a psion while in the bath, just to prove that it could be done.

Surely the best use anyone has ever given to a psion.

Why have they gone for a slidy lid rather than a hinge? Obvious really... I've never seen a series 5/5a that has been used but with an intact hinge... they always broke.

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@Adams

Given Adams' legendary productivity (along with Hunter Davis a man who had to be 'locked up' by his publishers) it must have been a very long bath. But worth the wait.....

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Happy

Long bath as in the captain

of a B-ark?

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Want!

I want one, for nostalgia value if nothing else, but I think I'd better spend the money on a Mac Mini :-(

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Coat

10 years after

sigh

google ibm + pc + 110

's in the pocket n I am gonna plug it in n make a call.

Yes (answer to your next question).

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Nev

I mourn the '5...

...but unless this thing can last >2 days without recharging and costs <£200 it will never take off.

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FAIL

"a touch of class that lives only in the imagination"

What an unfortunate turn of phrase.

Much as I'd love this to be the Series 5 or Revo all over again, it's simply not. In any way. The hardware is completely average and generic, there's nothing remotely special about the keyboard or physical design, the screen is permanently exposed for no good reason, and on the software side we have... Windows XP?! What's the point? Moreover, what does any of this overpriced tat have to do with Psion?

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Flawed visual interface...

Looks like you'd need either a super hero like zoom function built into your eyes, or a large screen magnifying lense to get any use ot of it.

Reminds me of running my PDA in VGA mode - great that I can do it but a feature I practicaly never use...

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FAIL

Fail too

It's a eKing mini tablet:

http://www.pocketables.net/2009/10/eking-s515-mid-priced-and-shipping-from-amazon-china.html

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Sad

It seemed pretty unlikely that this seemingly one-man-band had produced his own hardware design, and even more unlikely that the poor design in question had been dreamt up by anyone hankering after a Psion. Sure enough, the whole thing is just some OEM tat.

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If these guys know so much about Psion...

... why the hell does this machine lack the same sort of wonderful keyboard and sliding screen mechanism that the Series 5 had?

The keyboard on their machine looks like one of the least finger-friendly designs I've seen in years... Fat-finger jokes aside, it looks like you'd need a dialing wand to operate it!

Take a Series 5mx, stick Bluetooth, WiFi, Flash Memory, a decent mobile CPU, a colour capacitive touch screen and a LiPo battery in it along with maybe an Android based OS and I think you'd be onto a winner. I'd buy one anyway!

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RTFM - that slide is patented

If Psion had not patented that slider design design I guess it could have been an option..

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Anonymous Coward

Given them some credit

OK, Paul's an old friend of mine (old = haven't seen him in over a decade), but I do think you should cut them some slack here.

This is a small outfit who have just proven that you don't need a gazillion budget facility to turn out something interesting. I like the idea, but I do agree it's a crowded market they're entering and they have only just started up, I suspect there will be more coming.

I for one will be watching this - this is at least someone with the balls to follow their own ideas to completion, this is also how the original company came to be. Slagging off is easier than making things happen, believe me..

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FAIL

Slagging off is easier than making things happen

...and ripping off is easier than either. This is a rebadged eKing S515, which in turn is a rebadged Huawei DigCube Z8. No original thought, of the plucky British kind or otherwise, to be found here.

And I agree it's doomed to failure with these specs - what made the Psion revolutionary was a small footprint, tuned, responsive OS on well-designed hardware and battery life that ran into days. WinXP + Atom in this context is nothing more than a "Because we can" exercise.

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe it's the first or a series.

If I recall correctly, the 5MX didn't suddenly appear, in between the incredible Organiser II and the 5MX were things like the MC400 and HC and others - all steps towards the Series 3 and eventually the 5MX, so maybe there is more to come. No idea..

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Unhappy

Must fix mine

I still have my 5mx... just need to replace the ribbon cable (I have a spare). I've been meaning to do that for 5 years now.

Much as I would dearly love Paul Pinnock to succeed (I took my 5mx down to Streatham once for him to fix), I can't see any way that he would. I'd consider myself a Psion fan, but I wouldn't buy this. The 5mx's success was due to it's fast OS, embedded objects, and this has none of those.

Surely Psion could license use of the keyboard to a willing manufacturer - whether it be POS, SonyEricsson (who have had the MC218 before now), Nokia, whoever? I assume the fact the only place I've ever seen this keyboard turn up, without the hinge mechanism, is in the Amstad @mailer, suggests it's more than a question of just licensing it....

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If you diddnt know

If you diddnt know anything about Psion, and looked at the two designs you think the "Popper Psion" in the pic was the new one!!! (colour/windows aside)

Anything netbook or smaller is all about usability as afar as I can see, specs and os are only a small part of that. Mobiles are getting BIGGER, miniaturization is dead, long live usability.

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Instant on/Instant off

My Lenovo s10e has instant on instant off while running debian linux. There is absolutely no problem for most other netbooks to have it either. The only thing that takes more than 3 seconds at present is for it to get its bearings onto the right network. The laptop itself is actually nicely up and usable straight away. If I replace the SATA with a SSD it will need even less - around a second or so.

This Psion-like thing is dead on arrival - same as the numerous XP embedded "pseudonetbooks".

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Instant on/Instant off

Your instant-on setup applies equally to this device - it has almost the same specs as your 10e and if you install the same OS will have the same characteristics.

Which doesn't detract from the fact it isn't optimised for small, efficient computing (and won't be even with <insert favourite brand of Penguin here> installed) - it'll still be a netbook in a straitjacket.

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agenda

the great thing about the revo that my wife still uses daily (besides the instant on, great battery life, weight, touch screen, design) is the software - well written and still yet to be improved upon. the week view on the agenda/diary is just excellent - what else compares with it?

such a shame that psion died before they were able to release a colour, wifi, bluetooth version of the revo. the nokia n900 is the only device that has caught my eye since the revo. mind you, i haven't got my hands on one to try yet - i may be disappointed!

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Interface problems

That interface with those controls? That's going to be a disaster and you know it.

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Screen images simulated

That's a very bad photoshop job.

On my desktop PC, the Start menu goes half-way up the 1000-pixel tall screen. So on their 480-pixel tall screen, it will reach the top. But it doesn't, it only goes half way up. They've obviously taken a screenshot of a desktop PC at high-res and stretched it to fit.

One wonders if they've actually made anything that works, or if they just have a non-working model and Photoshop...???

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WTF?

Bring back the series 5 with connectivity

If this were a properly connected Series 5 chassis (i.e. wifi, 3g etc) then I'd buy one tomorrow. As it is, your picture of the Series 5 still looks uber cool and ergonomic, whilst the 'new' model already looks a decade out of date and useless.

Where's the progress? If they bought the S5 production line, then get producing the thing...

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£500!!

I mean, well done and all, but £500!!!!

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Old Psions

Well,

I used psions from the psion '11' , through to the 3mx,

never go t into the 5 series, the 3 did all I wanted it to do.

Number 1, was reliability. Don't think I ever had to re boot the thing,

Number 2, battery life. A month or two normal use,

Number 3, connectivity, connected to the PC fantasticaly easily

Number 4, instant on. Open , press button and use.

It just worked, always there for me when I wanted it, had all sorts of information on it , stored and sorted as needed. Spread sheets and note pads as needed.

Perfect.

Then they went and tried to get into the mobile market and blew it.

And this new thing only seems to tick the connected button, the rest it seems to fall over on big time.

If they could make a Psion 3 or 5 that connected to the PC, I'd get one.

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Wasn't the shape-changey lady in Space 1999 a Psion?

As a Samsung Q1 PC owner, to me this is the same thing but smaller and with an actual keyboard attached, and more RAM, and an SSD to hibernate to. Which is all quite nice. And I am looking for a new touchscreen PC / video player - I have a keyboard disability so I only use that for necessary maintenance. Missing here possibly is XP speech recognition, which the Q1 Tablet Edition includes, as well as Vista and I think Windows 7. Otherwise I don't know if it can be added on, there is an SDK and redistributable pack but that's only licensed for development... and speech rec. is liable to be slow anyway, unless there's an amount of RAM that makes it fly that I haven't been blessed with yet. Currently I use the pretty nifty Fitaly stylus keyboard software.

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Spookily...

...is it just me, or does the Psion 5 look more futuristic than that unpronounceable thing?

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"One wonders if they've actually made anything that works"

"One wonders if they've actually made anything that works"

These folks don't make things. They have a far eastern manufacturer make things for them, as noted above by Andrew Moore. These particular folks probably don't design things either, other than their logo and their website. Rebadging, OEMing, ODMing, call it what you will, has worked for bigger names, not necessarily anything wrong with that. Maybe these folks regionalise things for the UK market (ie install UK Windows XP rather than eastern Windows XP), does that count as "making"?

One wonders if there's an entry on the El Reg tariff for the cost of misleading an article's author?

http://www.pocketables.net/2009/10/eking-s515-mid-priced-and-shipping-from-amazon-china.html

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How to fake resolution

Oh, the Samsung Q1 also has a mode where an 800x600 virtual screen is scrunched onto its own 800x480 display - landscape only - so that's one way that the display could look kind of how it is in the picture. And you can fiddle font size. You have to do something, because many applications have dialog boxes larger in either or both dimensions than your whole display. Having said that, the device's reflection in the desk top is suspiciously neat.

What I have my eye on currently is Fizzbook Spin (UK Classmate). I may give myself that for Christmas instead of this. It's a bit under-resourced compared to Gigabyte M912 but that seems to be discontinued (I had one briefly, it got run over) whereas Argos has the Fizzbook at £349 and with a UK keyboard (I used AutoHotkey utility to get | and \ on the M912). But are grownups allowed to have it?

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Hey, wait

BACKLIT keyboard?

Even though keyboards are not for me, that is cool.

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Piy it's £500.

Gut feeling that price will kill this before it's soiled it's first nappy. That, for this kinda machine is regrettable.

Oh, and WindowsXP? Daft. Like putting a V6 engine in a Fiat 500. Plus 800x480 resolution - fair enuf, but 32Mb display memory...WTF???? Must be a typo. if not, bye bye battery life.

I'd snap one up at €200, with Linux. Bought my missus' Asus 701 - still going strong - at €150, albeit with a €10/month, all-you-can-eat 3G modem. (2 year contract, but - so what? I use it when I travel, and with port-forwarding to the wireless modem, it's good enough at home)

I look forward to an El Reg test, when this machine actually ships.

As to the 'badge-engineered' comment above - obvious - why else would it come with TD-SCDMA (Chinese-only standard IIRC), but 3G is noted as an option? Finnish keyboard? Chinese? Nah. Yank only, it seems.

In short, this machine doesn't make sense to me. Sorry, guys.

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Paris Hilton

Original

The original S5 remains a lesson in great design, well ahead of its time. But as with other areas if industry, being better doesn't guarantee success. Beta v. VHS anyone? (The irony being that Sony sold the VHS licence to JVC in order to pursue Betamax as the better format! Bugger.)

Paris because, oh, I don't care anymore...

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Anonymous Coward

@ThinkingOutLoud

"Beta v. VHS anyone? (The irony being that Sony sold the VHS licence to JVC in order to pursue Betamax as the better format! "

Sony had nothing to do with VHS until they licenced it FROM JVC in 1988

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