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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  1. Mark Lockwood Silver badge
    Go

    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

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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?

  3. alphaxion

    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*

  4. Tom 7 Silver badge

    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Try this for size

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

  5. AdamW

    Wifi?

    Is there any wifi?

  6. Tom Chiverton 1

    eh ?

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

  7. Anonymous Coward
    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)

  8. TeeCee Gold badge

    "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.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Wishing this was as good as my 5mx

    but will it run Snow Leopard...?

  10. Gordon Henderson
    FAIL

    500 quid!?!

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

  11. Nigel Wright

    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.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  13. idiot
    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!

    1. Chronos Silver badge
      WTF?

      Not only that

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Psion 3

      The Psion 3 had x86 type processors

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Alert

      Please read the specs first!

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

  14. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      @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.....

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Happy

        Long bath as in the captain

        of a B-ark?

  15. Tom Cooke

    Want!

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

  16. Philip Nicholls Silver badge
    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).

  17. Nev Silver badge

    I mourn the '5...

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

  18. Tim Cook
    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?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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...

  20. Andrew Moore
    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

  21. Joshua Murray
    Thumb Down

    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!

    1. Tim Cook

      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.

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      RTFM - that slide is patented

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

  22. Anonymous Coward
    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..

  23. Damian Skeeles
    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....

  24. David Edwards

    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.

  25. Anton Ivanov

    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".

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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..

    2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      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.

  26. vegister

    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!

  27. Greg J Preece

    Interface problems

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

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Badgers

    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...???

  29. GreyCells
    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...

  30. Valerion

    £500!!

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

  31. andrew mulcock

    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.

  32. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    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.

  33. Mike Richards

    Spookily...

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

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "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

  35. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    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?

  36. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Hey, wait

    BACKLIT keyboard?

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

  37. Andus McCoatover

    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.

  38. ThinkingOutLoud
    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...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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

  39. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Just another UMPC

    PSION was about the hardware and software.

    The hardware isn't unique, the software isn't unique.

    Just another UMPC trading on nostalgia. I'm amazed they didn't call it an Amiga or Commodore something or other.

  40. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    So whose it for?

    You may feel that marketing people are the scum of the earth but that is a fairly key question if you want to do dull things like close business cases (which is fairly important if you want to get money out of banks).

    PC users who want a relatively low spec sub-notebook?

    Not exactly unique in that area. Various smartpphones playing in this space as well.

    People who want a Psion like device.-

    AFAIK people who bought Psions liked the *whole* package.

    The smooth integration of hardware design (including instant on/off), battery life (5 series used 2AAs IIRC. Using standard batteries available anywhere was part of the design spec, again IIRC) and the hinge layout (3 part?) which protected the sc reen effectively. Well integrated software.

    Only this is a box running XP and does not seem to have the software ported.

    Well this does not look much like a Psion. So much for them having the tooling.

    New users who want something different.

    Well they won't get that with this hardware/software combo.

    Oh and the eKing is listing c$600.

    So what is their Special Sauce (C Lewis Page) ? Is this a stop gap before they get their proper machine out, or are they just trading on the Psion goodwill.

    I'll wish them well but I doubt this ones got legs.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    ...and

    i would give up my iPhone for this because???

  42. Terry 6 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    £500? What's it for?

    I have a cheap mobile phone, for PAYG calls.

    I have an ageing pocketPC for notes, diary and simple apps.

    I'll need to replace the PPC eventually.

    So a small device for around £100 would be useful to me.But that's all.

    I don't want a "smart"phone or to pay big money for a device like this. I don't see the point to it.

  43. YoYO
    FAIL

    Wintel = Expensive Fail. Armandroid = Win

    Arm CPU % Linux/Android OS. Price = low price, high functionality & excellent battery life.

    Wintel = low performance, over priced, redundant hardware.

    I guarantee that in 12-18 months we will have a viable non-Wintel system with high functionality for pocket money. Either this will be Arm Android or even Apple iTablet. Give this system a miss guys, far too little, far too late.

  44. Thomas 4

    Hmmmm.....

    Having met Ewan once or twice at a couple of AllAboutSymbian meets, its safe to say the enthusiasm and determination for a project such as this is there but launching with a Windows device was not the smart thing to do.

    As stated above, the £500 price tag is also offputting, especially given the decreasing prices of netbooks.

    If they managed to remake something like the Revo Plus, with its fine portability, efficient OS and god-like battery life for £200 or under, I'd snap one up in a second. Until then, keep me posted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Decreasing price of Netbooks?

      Oh silly me. I thought they were getting more expensive just to increase their margins.

      I'd like proof that netbook prices are decreasing. For me £300+ for a netbook is just silly when compared to 'normal' laptop prices.

  45. tardigrade
    Flame

    A absolute joke...

    ... comparing it to a Psion Series 5. A complete failure of vision for all the reasons that other posters here have stated and more.

    It's hardly bloody difficult, I posted all the required specs of a modern day Series 5 here a while back. If I can do that, why can't the bods that make these damn things do it as well, using their own imagination and intellect. Instead we get another Windows brick. FFS!

    WIndows FFS!

    Head, desk, head, desk, head, desk. Really. Head, desk, for a long bloody time and I do mean a long painful time!

    Fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, fail. OK?

    P.S. The Series 5 photo in the article looks so much better and more modern as well. Sheesh.

    God people are stupid.

    1. Shonko Kid
      FAIL

      Give 'em some slack

      I'm not saying this thing'll make me put my trusty 5mx away, it won't, but give them a little slack. It's all very easy to spout 'dream specs', it's a very much harder thing to actually get it built. Trust me. Paul and Ewan at least deserve some kudos for getting this far.

      I think that El Reg is being a little unfair in even suggesting a comparison between this and a Series 5, this is even less of a Series 5 replacement than the N900 is, and even that is no where close.

      1. Andus McCoatover

        @Shonko Kid

        "Paul and Ewan at least deserve some kudos for getting this far."

        Bit like saying a little old lady with her Zimmer frame, shuffling painfully and pitifully up the wrong road to her house deserves some Kudos for getting so far.

        Close, but absolutely NO cigar.

        We're British, and therefore support the underdog. Up to a point.

        (Should've got Alan Sugar on board. He'd have got it right. Credit to the bloke, you might dislike him and his arrogant attitude , but when you can pull a few hundred quid out of your pocket, then you can argue the point.)

  46. ForthIsNotDead
    Thumb Up

    Just bring back the series 5.

    Seriously.

    Don't care about a browser - someone will write one for it. Just a decent email client. Leave the rest EXACTLY as it is.

    We miss you Psion!

  47. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
    Thumb Down

    Oi!!!!

    <-- Get rid of the windoze!!!!

    I'll buy one, right? But, not with the bloat of XP and I'd prefer an arm, (or even a powerpc lol).

    I can understand why you've decided to play safe and build it on an intel/windoze base, seriously, but think of the people who bought psions in the first place, we didn't give a toss that it wasn't running windoze.

    What sort of a pointer device does it use anyways?

  48. Sordid Details
    FAIL

    Watch eBay prices jump...

    ...now that you've made everyone go all nostalgic and misty-eyed for our old Psions. But AC @ 1.08am is right...the world has moved on and this looks like 90's technology dressed up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Windoze!

      Windoze. I see what you did there. Clever. Doing it 3 times made it even funnier....

  49. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    It IS a PC

    I think it will run Moblin if you want. Pointy device? Your finger, it's a touchscreen, but make sure there is a compatible Linux driver for it if you want. Distros differ. One Linux distro mistook my Q1 touchscreen for a mousey touchpad, confusing... And my Gigabyte M912 wouldn't use SD card as dual boot device, so this may not either, but you can get amazingly cute little USB flash devices now, you almost forget you're using the port at all. Also ask whether the micro USB port is fully capable, i.e. to plug in a hub.

  50. Janko Hrasko
    Thumb Down

    XP? You must be kidding...

    As a former 5mx owner, THERE IS NO REPLACEMENT YET!

    Read it again, and again.

    Sharp SL-C760 came close, but was let down by poor quality office software AND usability.

    Nokia N810 fares a much better in usability with Abiword and Gnumeric, and of course the hardware.

    (s)iPhone (that I don't and won't have) usability is awesome, but the software flexibility is still a let down compared to 5mx where all was included AND FREE OF CHARGE.

    Nokia N900 is getting very close, as all high quality software is freely available - let's see about its not yet announced successor (give us smaller and more energy efficient device please!).

    The biggest let down of all the contenders above is that my old 5MX lasted two weeks on a pair of AA batteries. TWO WEEKS and used daily and pretty heavily.

    IMHO, the key to success is a sustained effort to develop a free high quality and heavily integrated software that works just as smoothly and effortlessly as 5mx.

    Until that happens, we just going to have to bare witnessing fanbois squabbles with their 21st century equivalents of mirrors and trinkets.

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