Psion Plc, once famous for producing excellent pocket computers and still selling handheld computing into vertical markets, has been bought by Motorola Solutions and will be subsumed into its new US owner. The deal values Psion at £129m ($200m) with shareholders getting 88 pence on a share. The closing price yesterday was 60.5 …
Used an Organiser II at school and had a 5MX and a Series 7 (later converted to a 7-Book).
It's only in the last couple of years that I;ve been convinced the devices I carry round with me are actually any better than those.
Like the BBC B they were superior to other offerings but just too expensive to gain mass market traction - if the NetBook had carried on evolving (and I don't count the switch to CE as a great leap forward) we'd have some awesome devices now.
Personally I'd like to know who owns the patents to do with the keyboard on the series 5/5mx. That's still the best I've encountered on any handheld and would certainly like to see that style being used again.
@AC, Psion keyboard
Completely with you there, the Psion 5 keyboard was fantastically good for the size.
Depends on the shape of its corners and the gullibility of the patent authorities :-(
It reminds me of one of the shittiest films I have ever seen "For Queen and Country" I think its called - starring Denzil Washington as a South Londoner (blimey such an awful attempt at a British accent) - anyway the only memorable part is when one of the characters mispronounces Psion as "piss on".
Urm anyway, whatever, mines the one with the piss on!
I'd love to see a case made for the Raspberry Pi, which has a similar folding action to a Psion 5MX.
Go on someone, please
... get out while you can
Re: I'm a Psion shareholder
So, you didn't actually read the whole article then? :/
Re: I'm a Psion shareholder
You'll either get Motorola Solutions shares or a cheque to the value of the price Moto pays for the Psion shares.
Re: I'm a Psion shareholder
You could probably have answered the question in the time it took you to write that pointless post.
I used to work for Psion, programming the Organiser 2 (in assembler not OPL!) and I also wrote the code for blowing eproms.
I once wrote re-locatable (ie could and would be relocated in memory between opcodes) to drive a racal pager (plugged into the top of Organiser) to provide yuppies with share prices! Brilliant code, although I do say so myself, pre-dated SMS by years but Psion could never get the contract with Racal agreed.
When I needed a break from programming I used to wander into tech support and answer a 'phone. Most common question? 'How do I turn it off?'.
As I type this my Psion 3c is sitting on the other end of the desk, though I must admit I haven't used it for at least 2 days now.
Happy days? - Still are.
The datalink is in one of these pockets.....
I have a Psion II on my desk now, although I have just retired it after 21 years of daily use. It has been brilliant, and seemed indestructable, especially compared with much of today's tat. Some of the button legends are wearing thin.
Its only weakness was the lack of a back-up battery while you changed the main one (corrected in Series 3). It kept its data for a minute(?), I guess by means of an internal capacitor.
I was pretty nifty at changing the main battery (needed about every 3 months) within about 10 seconds. But in the last two changes I lost all my data. I think this must have been because the capacitor is losing its capacity after 20 years.
Thank goodness it used a standard PP3 9v battery form. Most devices nowadays seem to use a special battery form for which it is almost impossible to find a replacement when it fails after about 2 years, or if you do the replacement is such rubbish that it then fails after about 2 months.
One time the word processor in my Revo crashed
I lost a week of work too - because it was so damn reliable that I'd quite literally forgotten that you even *could* save the current document; I used to get saves simply by virtue of opening a different document.
Funny thing too was it reported a CBase 46 panic - the dreaded "stray event" of EPOC32 coding. This would of course be the now much maligned "Symbian" codebase. The other funny thing is that until Nokia borged Symbian nobody called S60 "Symbian", so the righteous wrath over the increasingly ungainly UI and flaky apps largely fell upon the correct shoulders.
And yes, that folding keyboard design was a joy - it even automatically exposed the docking station connector without any additional kludgy sprung doors (or just leaving all those fine contacts exposed the whole damn time). And the battery life was spectacular. In some parallel universe Psion seized the SatNav opportunity or started making cellphones and we all lived happily ever after...
Psion Linux netBook Repost from 2009
I remember going to a trade show, ooh must be 5 years ago (maybe more) [8 years now] , and a saw a new Psion netBook running linux. It was the same underlying machine as a netBook pro I think.
And it was linux from the ground up. It had a white case because it was a demo unit; wonder where it went. Suspect it never got to market due to M$ licensing of Windoze CE restricting the use of any competing OS.
Taking on the point of Open Office and a suitable browser and the ability to send a PDF direct to your printer, if one of these linux machines had mobile telephony functionality, video resolution & the requisite connectivity and MP3 player driving bluetooth earphones it would probably clean up.
There was a guy somewhere who had considered gutting a Psion netBook and installing a single board ARM processor a new higher res screen and running linux. Dunno what happened with that. Anyone know?
Could the netBook now be resurrected with RasPi Innards - a great student project methinks
Lament for Psion, great products, clever keyboards but lost through the netBook pro WinCE
Microsoft kills again!
5mx was a great machine but a massive failure because the screen cable was guaranteed to fail if you simply opened and closed the shell a few tens of times.
Psion knew about the problem, but refused to acknowlege it.
Their only decent recourse would have been a product recall and free replacement of the badly designed component.
They chose not to do that, putting them on the nose with people who the thing.
Biggest reason for their fall, IMHO.
It was only a limited number of machines as i recall... my 5MX still has the original screen cable and works perfectly after years of use.
When these Psion threads pop up, I really wonder if people claiming to have had a trouble-free experience with the series 5 or 5mx actually use them as pocket computers or leave them on their desks with the shell always open，one way to avert their hideous quality problem （I had to get my screen cable replaced twice, just because I opened and closed the shell a few times a day).
Mark E. Smith's line
made with the highest of British attention to the wrong detail
comes to mind.
"5mx was a great machine but a massive failure because the screen cable was guaranteed to fail if you simply opened and closed the shell a few tens of times."
My big mistake was buying one at the Duty Free in Manchester Airport. When it failed, taking it back to where I bought it was going to involve several hundred quid, so I never bothered.
After many years of faithful service from my original Serties 3, the replacement Series 3a didn't half as long. When the 5mx failed so quickly I gave up on the company.
A great shame.
Re: MX deathtrap
I used my Series 5 extensively while at Uni and working part time on nights, for word processing, spreadsheets, programming in OPL and playing classic Speccie games (Elite and Chuckie Egg being favourite). Perhaps I was fortunate, but I never had any issues with the screen flexi.
Yes they were excellent machines and way ahead of their time in a sense.....basically the problem was not being American. Remember Palm ? I'd guess they came along some 10 years after Psion's pocket companion but somehow they managed to convey that Palm had invented the pocket computer. Even more amusing is the Wikipedia entry for "pocket computers"....a quick scan suggests that Bill Gates invented the pocket computer.
What people forget
Was that both the hardware and software were wonderfully polished.
The apps integration alone - particularly the PIM ones has rarely been matched even today. Even Nokia's communicator was a tad shy of the psi on ideal.
A PsIon running android or Linux whilst being a cool project would massively fall short on the software side.
Just a thought
An Arduino must have about the same 'power' as a psion II or even a 3 ,
they can run for a few days on a PP3.
I had the Siena and then the 5MX
The 5MX was stunning and made me a relatively early user to get real benefit from mobile data (Motorola L7089 as a 9600bps modem via infra red). The benefit? Being able to send/reply to emails at the hotel bar in the evening, back when booze on the expense bill wasn't verboten!
And not forgetting Psion's previous work in making some very nice software for the Spectrum and QL ... Psion made that great Spectrum Scrabble game if I recall
Not to mention the Horace series (sorry).
Sad day. I'll be getting a cheque for £264 for my shares that I paid £1,500 for many years ago. If only I'd sold them six months later for the £15,000 they became worth at the top of the dot-com boom!
The best bits of the Psions were (a) The built-in apps, which were simple to use but with enough functionality to cover everything and (b) the keyboard/folding hardware. The worst bit was the screen, very hard to read in some lighting conditions.
If someone brought out a Psion 5mx format machine with the same keyboard but with a modern high-resolution easy-to-read screen, running the same old Psion apps, I'd snap one up! In the meantime my Galaxy Note comes pretty close.
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