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 “ …

Keyboard

If the keyboard has all the symbols needed for coding, they can have a blank cheque from me.. This looks like it'll be perfect on the move.

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Re: Keyboard

You can clearly see the (sadly deficient for coding) keyboard layout by making the video on the Indiegogo page full screen size and pausing at 1:18. Some symbol characters frequently used in coding are missing: "{", "}", "[", "]", "|", "<" and ">". Some Many others are in non-standard positions: "+", "-", ",", "_", ":", ";", "\", "~", "?", "." and single quote.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Keyboard

Somehow, I think that kind of request is asking for unicorns. Expecting full travel keys with enough space to prevent double-striking while touch-typing all in a form factor about 6-8 inches long (to compare, the 84-key part of your average keyboard is around 10 inches long) tends to limit the available keys by sheer physics.

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Unhappy

So close, so very very close...

This thing ticks all the boxes except for one - there's no camera on the back of the display, only a user-facing one!

I don't think I've ever used my user-facing camera before - I am not a "selfie" type of person - but I use the one on the back of the thing all the time. This seems like an oddly conspicuous omission...

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Re: So close, so very very close...

I noticed that too. I'm one of those guys who uses his phone only to actually call people 98% of the time, but 90% of the rest is taking a picture whenever I feel like it, instead of having to lug around my digicam (which is never with me anyway) to do it. So that's definitely an issue. Or rather not really, as a) I can't use it / see the display without opening it and b) can't afford it on a whim anyway.

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Re: So close, so very very close...

FYI, I emailed them and asked why there is no rear camera; here is their response:

This is in fact a very interesting point for us, that we discussed in length before launching the campaign.

The problem is that a good camera lens adds a certain depth to the device.

That’s why on today’s mobile phones, the camera is usually the thickest part of the phone.

We did not want to compromise the Gemini’s clean design and as a result we kept the back camera out of the specs.

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Linux!

I assumed Android would be the only option and I'm not a fan of that OS. But Linux could make this thing great!

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Re: Linux!

Read the article.

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Re: Linux!

I did. That's why I was excited!

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Holmes

Form-factor is wrong to be a mobile phone

To be a usable mobile phone, the clam-shell would have to open the other way around and show the screen on the TOP face when closed. Think N900 or N950.

This is a PDA. It needs a RemixOS port on the Android side and a well-supported Linux distribution on the other side.

(As much as I do pine for Harmattan or Sailfish on the Gemini, it would be a square peg on a round hole)

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Removeable battery ?

It may be removeable, but it could still be a custom unit instead of something you can pick up from

corner shop.

Also, it might sound strange but hows about a simple FM receiver as many smartphones have.

I sure appreciate such simple things when travelling.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Removeable battery ?

It's hard to make a custom removable battery these days. As long as it's nothing more than the simple three-contact block, practically any battery manufacturer can make them to spec as soon as the dimensions are made public.

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bep

Pricing is the key

The final price would be decider for me. We looked very hard at the Psions back in the day but couldn't justify the price in the end. If the actual, final price is right I might be interested, although it would have to have a good scheduling program included.

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Re: Pricing is the key

$499 WiFi only

$599 with 4G

A little higher than I would've liked although they have discounted ones if you support them on Indiegogo.

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Psionwithdrawal Symptoms

For the past 15 or so years I have suffered a gnawing vacuity in my tech consciousness realizing that I may never again experience the euphoria that Psion 5 gave me. In its absence, a few gadgets tried but could never measure up to that splendid keyboard, hardware connectivity and so many other little delights. Now the promise, like Hamlet's paternal ghost, appears again. I can only say, come back my psion and I shall purchase thee again! Especially if Android and Linux are plausible and very enticing options.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Psionwithdrawal Symptoms

I miss mine too! I still use it rarely for things like taking notes, then connect it to a PC and then copy & paste stuff onto the "big computer" for editing and printing. In my previous job as a field engineer, I used to record site visits, do reports, addresses and contacts, connect to it a GPS unit for SatNav, read ebooks and more.

A few years ago 2010-ish, a colleague was showing off his Mac laptop and iPhone, and how he could link the two and could connect to the internet and email. He saw that I wasn't impressed - as I told him "Mate, I was doing that years ago with my Nokia 6310i and Psion"

PS - also has more USB connectors than the latest Apple laptop!

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There's a video if you want to see it in action

I haven't seen this referenced anywhere else, so dropping this here:

https://vimeo.com/205778039

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OQO Fan

It lost me with its lack of stylus, touch screen, and Win10. I had an OQO 2 with a Wacom stylus and slide out keyboard running XP, then Vista, and, finally, 7 before the company and then the motherboard died.

The Psion I don't need; I have a 5" Android computer - the Nexus 5x. Now offer me an OQO 3 (which was going to add touch) and I'll pay more for it than I would for a laptop.

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Pleeeeasse...

I doubt I;d be able to afford one of these at a price of several hundred quid, but then again, what I;d be even more interested in is something like the original Psion Organiser. That's literally all I need to make me a very happy and much better organised girl. Even with a 4 line LCD display. :-) Still, y'never know, if thei PSion 5-alike does OK... :-}

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Seeing is believing...

From what I can tell (also based on the website) this will be a device build for Android which will also provide Linux dual-boot capabilities. But the thing is: all of that is unimportant (IMO) because in the end the main question will be what functionality will be provided. Will this be your average Android phone with a keyboard attached or are they going to add features which makes it stand out?

The thing is, when going over the specifications I see a lot of parallels with Toshiba's Portege, including the fingerprint support. In case you're not familiar with it: the Portege is also a clamshell PDA/phone which runs on Windows Mobile. It worked, but it's also not too easy when it comes to it's actual PDA functionality. And the reason for that is all because of the OS.

EPOC / Symbian, even on the 5mx, was fully tailored to provide you PDA functionality, and that is what made it work. All modern PDA's aren't really PDA's; they're smart phones which provide PDA functionality. Yet that means the device can't fully focus on one key feature, it has to provide a bit of everything. And that doesn't always work too well. If it was then why do most modern smart phones need the ability to install 3rd party software? Many users don't rely on the OS or phone itself, but on 3rd party applications which provide the functions they want or need.

Now, there's nothing wrong with that. Even the Psion 3mc and 5mx provided support for 3rd party software. The main difference though is that hardly anyone bothered to try and provide a "better" agenda or "better notes" application because.. why bother? That was why you'd use the Psion in the first place!

In this time and age? Even Windows Phone has 3rd party competition for the "Mobile Office" applications.

SO yeah... It looks slick no arguments there. But I still can't help worry that this will turn out into your average Android device which main standout feature is its keyboard.

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Re: Seeing is believing...

Odd. I once recalled the Toshiba Portege line (and I note the spelling; intentional to create a portmanteau with "portable") being a line of laptops.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seeing is believing...

"That was why you'd use the Psion in the first place!"

Until time passed and the program you used on your computer changed and so on. That's why smartphone PDA functionality tries not to be fixed; because the software on the other end isn't fixed, either, and probably won't be compatible down the line.

What's one of the chief complaints about new software, especially an OS? Loss of compatibility. Trust me, I've wrestled with I don't know how many devices once I learned they don't work with newer software.

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Psion Chess

Psion Chess predates the Psion computers mentioned, but, well, Wikipedia puts it this way: "Die Schachengine war in Assembler programmiert. Es gab Versionen für Sinclair QL, Atari ST, Mac, PC und Psion Organiser. Eine Version für den ZX Spectrum aus dem Jahr 1983 ebnete den Weg für die PC-Umsetzung." This may, or may not, explain long-term confusion in my head. Just call me Colonel Dump.

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What a negative bunch of comments

I read the article, went and ordered the 4G version. Then came and read the comments.

No wonder ingerland lost its motorbike, car, computer industries. What a load of nit-picking critical comments. And quite a lot fuelled by ignorance. All you had to do was read for a few minutes. But no, whip out your prejudices and save them around.

Back it. Help them succeed. The first versions may be delightfully deficient but they could become collectors items.

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Re: What a negative bunch of comments

Or, I could wait. See if it flops. Save my money. Buy one later when they're actually available and tested.

I've done LOTS of kickstarters etc. But from established companies that have a proven track record of delivering.

All the kickstarters I WANTED but which suffered from the same criteria? They never made it to market or were a very niche flop.

Sorry, but I was a big fan of the GP2X and looked at many of its successors - a niche handheld Linux gaming machine. I would have gladly have invested if there was even a HINT of actual work before the money was begged for. As it turns out, most of the projects that succeeded it were flops, scams or just outright wastes of money even if they delivered. One guy literally took money for preorders for years, then wanted nothing to do with the project, and kept milking more and more money out of preorders and still never delivered. It was only because someone else stepped in and bailed them all out (incurring financial loss) that anything was ever delivered. What do you think is the size of the market for such a device, its software or peripherals reliant on it? Zero.

Skepticism isn't negativity. Literally, yesterday this device was "ready". Today, there's a single prototype in existence, which doesn't have the most critical element. There's a reason that the big investors are ignoring it and crowdfunding is the only option.

Come back in a year with your shiny device and lord it all over us, by all means.

If not, I'll certainly be coming back when it all turns out to be an outright scam, never deliver, or only deliver something that's completely inferior.

Just the playing on Psion's name is enough to put me off. Sure, we have the guy who designed the keyboard on board. The only bit that NOBODY has actually seen yet.

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Re: What a negative bunch of comments

Agreed.

So I ordered "the full English"... ;-)

...from Scotland.

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Go

Payment

Where do I send my firstborn? Oh wait, I don't have one. Damn.

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Anonymous Coward

Kickstarter for all intense and purposes... so not good enough to get a real investor or a bank loan, I think I'll pass.

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even worse

It's worse than that

Hardware projects on Indegogo tend to be the projects that even kickstarter wouldn't touch (really early stage)

200K is far too low for a hardware at concept stage to be brought to market in a few months....

Also I'm suspicious that the early bird deal would raise enough on it's own to fully fund the project

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I don't believe that can be brought to production with only $200,000.

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Sony Vaio P

I had one of these briefly:

http://sony.tabletsnlaptops.com/sony-vaio-p-pocket-pc-436.html

It almost ticked all the boxes, but was frightfully slow.

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SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

That is all.

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I still have my 5MX stylus... This could be worth looking into...:-)

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Sinclair'ey stuff

Looks great, lets hope it's more successful than the Vega Plus has been so far, anyone seen an actual release date for that recently?

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Thumb Up

I'm in...

... now just hope the delivery date doesn't do a "Sinclair Research", so I can get mine before I retire.

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Stop

Caveat emptor

Mr Janko Mrsic-Flogel is also a director for the abysmal Vega+ Indigogo project by RCL who are currently involved in a legal dispute.

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/officers/n1L4DMmJw_dnhjuyLM1JEW2hl_I/appointments

I strongly suggest everyone read the comments on that project as investors seem to be ignored by both RCL and Indigogo:

Makes for very depressing reading.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-sinclair-zx-spectrum-vega-plus-console-games#/comments

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Crowdfunding...

the ultimate triumph of hope over experience.

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Yes. I've missed the Psion 5 for ages. A REAL keyboard. Yes. The SideKick was good, but it wasn't a P5. YES. Something to replace it.

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Anonymous Coward

here's hoping that the update posted by Planet Computers on Mar 20, 2017 • 6:35PM isn't a priescent one for future annoyed backers...........

I do sincerely hope that the director is an honest chap that's been tarnished by other crowdfunding campaigns

The update contains the following text............

We just wanted to remind our backers that under Indiegogo's Terms, all contributions are donations to help us create the Gemini PDA keyboard mobile device, and not purchases where you're guaranteed to receive an item.

and of course then the following reassurances

We have every intention of sending your perks out to you, but like many crowdfunding campaigns there might be some bumps along the way. We really want to bring back the PDA clamshell mobile device and are fixated about starting Gemini production on time. This is why we are going to visit our Far Eastern manufacturing partners next week. We are working towards delivering a working product on time, but we cannot absolutely promise this as we are still in the "concept" phase. Now that all that's been said, we want to show our backers we're committed to giving you concrete details about our development each week, so that you are always well informed of progress, and we're confident we'll surpass your expectations!

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Megaphone

Ups and downs

Some of the design criticisms made here are not valid, IMHO. The Gemini is not a normal mobile phone and should not be expected to behave like one. There should be no need to use the screen when making a standard phone call. The voice assistant and external mic button ought to mean that you can make voice calls - well, with your voice, like this: >Press< "Gemini, call the office": a totally natural thing to do. The front camera is not for selfies! It is, or ought to be, part of the office setup, along with the keyboard, for those occasions when Gemini is open on a table or desk and a video call is useful. Especially valuable for global conference calls, so you can see who is talking. The keyboard in the promotional shots is an old Series 5 one grafted onto mock-up hardware, the production one will be different.

The one sour note is the smell of BS. Crowdfunding is well above the minimum ask, yet already the main man is giving us the "Honest Joe" softening-up treatment. It is tragic to think that the best mobility tool since the Series 5 may have been hijacked by a de Lorean of the IT world, but no way am I risking my cash until I know EXACTLY where all the rest has gone so quickly and why.

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