back to article The Psion returns! Meet Gemini, the 21st century pocket computer

The original Psion designers have returned to put the classic British pocket computer in a modern body. Martin Riddiford, the designer of the Psion Series 3 and Series 5 keyboards, and co-founder of Therefore, has come up with an entirely new design for the 21st Century. Patents were filed today, and the venture codenamed “ …

Re: Oooh shiny

Looking at the video it does lift very _slighty_ due to a sort of hinge-stand thing at the back.

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Does this niche still exist?

On the face of it, you could just get a keyboard case for your phone if you were hell-bent on typing a lot on a small screen device. Maybe if the keyboard is really good and the battery life is as advertised it will find a new niche.

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Re: Does this niche still exist?

Thing about the original Series 5 was the physical form factor working well with a great set of bundled software. It was better than the sum of its parts. I could get some kind of keyboard for my generic Android blower, but by the time I pair it, find out which apps don't work properly etc I'm not sure how good it would be (keeping an open mind, maybe it'd be excellent).

Likewise with this. The form factor looks nice, but if they stick some janky never-updated version of Android on top that'd pretty much ruin it. If on the other hand I could see the appeal if they get, I dunno, a slick LineageOS or Debian install where everything Just Works.

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Re: Does this niche still exist?

You generally can't walk+type with a keyboard case, and typing on the screen obscures what you're doing, especially when you're controlling something remotely.

Now, if I can use it with a serial port to build servers, I'll finally be back to were I was years ago.

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Re: Does this niche still exist?

The Psion keyboard was remarkably good, a long way better than the flat short travel chiclet keyboard you normally get on bt keyboards or small devices.

I suspect this will be hideously expensive for what it is.

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Re: Does this niche still exist?

You've never used a Psion5 or similar. You can hold it in your palm and do things, or hold it in two hands and type with two thumbs, and then pop it in your pocket. Or leave it on your desk and touch type away. Its so much better than having a keyboard for your phone.

I used my P5 to take notes of serial numbers under the floorboards while holding a torch in my mouth - in the days when cameras wouldnt fit under the floorboards!

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Re: Does this niche still exist?

I think the economics may actually favour something like this more than 10 or 15 years ago. The smartphone business has commodified the miniaturisation of high quality and high power components. While this has pretty much put an end to medium-range notebooks, where volume is key, it has opened up new opportunities for the niche. Think of the Pebble before the VCs came along: that risk still exists for this.

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Re: Does this niche still exist?

Something like this, you mean?

http://www.cablestogo.com/product/29470/usb-2.0-usb-c-to-db9-serial-rs232-adapter-cable

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gimme gimme gimme!

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Paris Hilton

+1 gimme

I would like to know why they think it needs 10 cores though.

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Happy

"Shut up and take my money!"

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Where do I sign?

I would LOVE one of these. Please, soon. It is exactly what I want: small, but a real keyboard. And NOT a phone.

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Lovely.........can't wait.

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That display...

...is about the only thing here that's annoying me.

2880x1440? For a 5.7" display? WHY?!

I'm sorry guys but that's just pointless. There's no way I can possibly see the difference between that and one at 1920x960 on a device that size and you'd be far better served conserving the battery power than pushing pixels that are too small for my eyes to see. Frankly 1920x960 is still probably too high. I'd be perfectly happy with something in the 1440x720 sort of area for all practical purposes.

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Re: That display...

You may not be able to discern the pixels at that resolution, but many of us can, and I'm one of those who still has good eyes and a distaste for aliasing.

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Re: That display...

No subpixel addressing colour fringed fonts needed.

It's like 1200dpi laser vs 360dpi ink jet. You can't really see the dots on 300dpi if its not dithering, yet 600dpi or 1200dpi text is much easier to read.

No anti-aliasing needed, Your eyes will do it.

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Re: That display...

You're seriously telling me that at 5.7" diagonal you can see a problem with a 1920x960 image? I'm sat about 2 feet from a 24" display that's only 1920x1200 and it's perfectly acceptable for actually doing work on. Sure, its noticeably imperfect, but let me put it this way - some minor jaggies vs another hour or more of battery life?

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Re: That display...

Shhhhh, You'll put apple out of business.

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Re: That display...

2880x1440? For a 5.7" display? WHY?!

Quite possibly because hi-res screens are almost as cheap as lower res ones: phones switched to higher res screens some years back and have dominated screen production for years. Also, you will almost certainly have this device closer to your eyes than a notebook, so may well appreciate the extra detail.

However, the key thing for me for the screen will be how it handles in bright sunshine. If they get this right then there are tens of thousands of field engineers simply gagging for something like this. Well, "ruggerised" versions of it at least.

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JLV
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Re: That display...

>almost as cheap as lower res ones

+1

Hear, hear, all you useless HP/Acer, even ASUS, floggers of 768x1366 laptops. FFS get out of your dubious 2007 time warp.

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Re: That display...

Hear, hear, all you useless HP/Acer, even ASUS, floggers of 768x1366 laptops. FFS get out of your dubious 2007 time warp.

Sorry, I should have qualified: there will be a sweet spot based around the current size of popular smartphones simply because of the number of screens that can be cut from a wafer: notebook screens will be competing with about 10 phones from the same wafer, which would drive up relative prices.

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JLV
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Re: That display...

No, I totally get that 15" screens are not the same as 4.7" from the POV of manufacturing processes. But still, a sub-1080p screen on a mainstream laptop is pretty lame. Esp when compared to phones.

I would get that if it was for totally budget laptops for basic email, but when most offerings in consumer stores are still using substandard screens (conveniently labelled as "HD", minus the actual pixel specs), including fairly beefy machines with up to 8GB RAM, then it is pretty damn lame.

In fact, I would say the HD labeling is borderline deceptive, esp when SKU variants deliberately obscure what ships with what and salespeople "don't know" the resolution when asked, leaving you to use Windows's Display Settings to fish out the max res.

OTOH, I would much prefer a 17" 1080p than the 15" retinas Macbook Pros are coming with...

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Re: That display...

"and I'm one of those"

Sure you are, but, normal people, you know the ones with 20 20 vision will have to hold that screen less than 8 inches from their eyes to be able to detect pixels never mind be bothered by them.

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Re: That display...

MAybe it has that display resolution because it has a video out connector to drive external displays.

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Ogi
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Oh Yes!

Finally! I have been using an old Jornada 720 with Linux on it for a small terminal server that I can carry in my pocket, but it is quite old now (still, has rs232 connection, for a quick datacenter serial terminal). I have also missed the power of a full OS in my pocket (like my old Nokia N900).

This sounds really nice. Bigger than a phone, smaller than a tablet, with decently sized keyboard for actual typing. I would not mind one of these, If it can run Linux, it will eventually run one of the BSDs, and that will be nice for me!

These specs seal the deal for me:

* Dual USB-C connectors to connect to keyboards, external screens, mice, charging cables as needed and many more.

* SD card slot (covered)

* Two weeks of stand-by time / 12 hours of talk time

* Fully tactile keyboard - recognised as the smallest keyboard for finger touch typing

* Removable Li-Ion 8000mAh battery

That is pretty much what I want out of such a device. the 10 core processor sounds like overkill, but if it can handle two weeks of standby time, then I won't mind the power.

The idea that I can use it like a computer by plugging in USB devices is also really nice. It was a feature I really liked in the old Nokia N810's.

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Ogi

Re: Oh Yes!

It is also fitting that this article comes up shortly after that poll of "Which device would you like to see come back from the past", where the Psion won :-)

Almost... as if, it was a total set up :-P

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Unhappy

Tempted but

I hope the flexi stands up to being folded better than the old design. I've got two old Series 5 that have a crack in the connector and thus no display.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tempted but

I have used this company in the past

http://www.psionflexi.co.uk/

They make their own cables, IIRC the reason the originals crack is due to tooling holes - this lot redesigned it so that they don't have this problem.

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As BlackBerry dies ...

... an alternative appears on the market. I mean, for those of us who just have to have physical keyboard when typing on the move (e.g. emails).

I probably won't be able to resist buying one. I do not even want to. Even though I already have something called Pandora.

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Re: As BlackBerry dies ...

Don't even think about the pyra/pandora GP2X replacement. It's for a particular kind of gamer and has been in gestation for YEARS. It's also tiny keypad.

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Sailfish OS

Licence Sailfish OS for it, please. Pretty please.

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Re: Sailfish OS

good point - one thing I really like in BB10 (R.I.P.) is that the applications are built in C (or C++) and there is not JVM involved in running them, except when emulating Android of course. This has really good impact on "user experience", thanks to lack of weird GC pauses , predictable memory footprint etc.

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Re: Sailfish OS

Comment from the "backer" Davide Guidi to someone asking for Sailfish OS support:

Thanks for the comment, very interesting! We are at 4YFN, stand P4, at Mobile World Congress and we will go and visit the Jolla stand tomorrow. We have not considered it so far, but you never know!

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Full moon shines on Martin "Dracula" Riddiford

So very, very wanted! Best keyboard designer on the planet returns from the grave, hurrah!

(The reason why phablet+clamshell+keyboard never cuts it? Bloody awful keyboards, that's what.)

The two old bugbears, screen quality and lack of air interface, gone.

OS/UI will be the interesting bit, I wonder if MATE will prove usable.

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There are 2 keys to the success of this device

The old Psion was a 2 parter: good psychical design and good software design.

The physical form factor has never really been matched since. The brilliant, logical and intuitive design of the software also has never been matched since.

It's looks like they've got the form factor down, as long as the keyboard is of good quality, so that just leaves the OS and programs. If they get those right, they've got a winner.

And dear god, no, not Android. And yes, I agree they are offering it only as a selling point to the current crop of punters who only know Android on small devices.

As someone else has posted, Linux for the PII may be just about right. Or something like it.

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Sinclair ZX Vega+

Potential backers of this should be aware that Dr Mrsic-Flogel is also a director of Retro Computers Ltd.

Indiegogo closed their campaign less than a week ago because of their failure to deliver the ZX Vega+ which is now five months late having taken over £500,000. They are now refusing to respond to backers questions and refund requests.

Whether Indiegogo know or even care about this connection is unknown.

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Happy

Re: Sinclair ZX Vega+

Even so, there's 26 eager punters (of the initial 600). In the last 4 hours! I suspect TFA has caused some wallet-opening....

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Re: Sinclair ZX Vega+

(Looks up the details on Companies House)

Yes, but only since April when the two who really have questions to answer were resigned.

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Re: Sinclair ZX Vega+

Hmm that's interesting, since New Improved VEGA+ Scheduled to Ship in February, 2017. If they keep that promise, this would enable me to order Gemini ;)

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Re: Sinclair ZX Vega+

Indiegogo negative as far as I see.

If it is any good then it will be available retail after launch. Probably considerably more expensive, but I will grab one in John Lewis with a decent warranty.

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Two major issues

1) Wouldn't fund anything on indiegogo way way too many campaigns on there can only be described as scams. I would not much trust anyone who launches a campaign on indiegogo.

2) The idea is dumb. I have a Psion 5 and a 3a in a draw next to me I know what they are like. The clamshell design means you can't see the display without it being open and open makes a horrible shape to hold and use as a phone. You need to hold it with two hands or place it on a surface which is a pretty huge limitation.

If you insist on a mechanical keyboard then much much better it slide out from underneath or maybe fold out from the bottom so you retain all the usual smartphone functionality.

If you want it as a computer then there is already this linux/win 10 pocket PC you can risk your money on. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gpd-pocket-7-0-umpc-laptop-ubuntu-or-win-10-os-laptop--2#/

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Does it really cost $100 to add a phone to this?

How much are the patent costs and how much for the hardware?

Given the availability of phones for less than this, it's looking a bit like Apple charging you £100 for extra flash memory that cost them £5.

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Happy

Backed!

As an ex-Psion owner finding this made my day. Now backed (with leather case).

Couldn't quite stretch to the gold plated edition, alas.

Thanks El Reg! Here's hoping they can deliver...

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Nostalgia....

This makes me nostalgic for my old Zaurus C760 (still sitting in a drawer somewhere: I'll dig it out and fire it up for old times' sake when I get back home).

Hardware-wise it was ahead of its time, and it ran Linux too. Let down by poor quality software though: I remember finding a five-line Bourne shell script on it that had three errors, and the e-mail client used IMAP to do download all the messages from the server just as if it was using POP.

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Re: my old Zaurus

Shocking - abandoned in a drawer!?

I still use my SL5500 as an alarm clock (I like the little chirp noise, and I can use the calendar to set as many weird waking up time as I like, eg a whole weeks worth of different times at one sitting).

Also I installed Opie on my Yoga for an awsome[1] Giant Zaurus Experience.

[1] May not be as awesome as all that, and probably not worth the time spent on source-tweakage necessary to get it to build given all the bitrot, but anyway...

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Psion, eh. Never had one - but seems quite a bit like the old Atari Portfolio to me.

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Happy

a bit like the old Atari Portfolio

But with a keyboard a gazillion times better, never mind the improvements due to processor and OS.

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I wish someone would finally make a Linux-based phone with this format.

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Facepalm

Missed it by some years

Look around the usual places for Nokia N810, N900 and N950.

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Yes, but...

I've read the text and watched the promo videos.

Why are there claims that something already DOES something when it's not even been built yet ?

Is there an actual prototype available ?

As for Android, nah stuff that. All that Google sideloaded crap forced on the user taking up more and

more resources. Keep it Linux or EPOC.

And make it a reasonable price. Remember that despite our desires to have one, it's still quite

reasonable to be using our smartphones to get by, and they don't cost the earth these days so

£300 for the one with 4G etc would sound good. At £500 I'm starting to question whether I can get

by with a typical smartphone or cheap crappy notepad with all it's foibles.

I do hope they gt there though.

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