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 “ …

  1. GregC
    Thumb Up

    Well hello...

    Very interesting. I loved my Series 5, and this looks great (both aesthetically and feature set). Looking forward to the hands on, and also an idea on price.

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: Well hello...

      Well well. Rather interesting. Ticks all the boxes. Except EPOC and stylus.

      Even with 8Ah battery I have doubts about the standby time with Android. I guess if you slimmed down all the extras (as most vendors bundle in tons of bloatware (often a full suite of apps competing with Google) it might be possible. Standby clearly mean display-off, as 5.7" QHD screen is likely to be thirsty.

      As for pricing. Backer prices on indiegogo look very tempting.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Well hello...

        Thank goodness it offers Linux and android, I love it but Android only would be a deal killer. If I get one then the Android would be the first bit of cruft to be wiped off.

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      WTF?

      21st century pocket computer

      I call it a smart phone.

      Makes phone calls too.

      1. GregC

        Re: 21st century pocket computer

        I call it a smart phone.

        Got one of those. It's missing a major feature: a proper keyboard.

        Guess what this has?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 21st century pocket computer

          I call it a smart phone.

          Got one of those. It's missing a major feature: a proper keyboard.

          Guess what this has?

          - Hmm. My phone can link to the Bluetooth keyboard I keep in my bag. The other 95% of the time it fits comfortably in my pocket for ease of use.

        2. elip

          Re: 21st century pocket computer

          I would argue that my full-qwerty Droid 4 contains such a keyboard... as did the Droid 3, 2, 1.

        3. Dave559 Bronze badge

          Re: 21st century pocket computer

          A smart phone with a proper keyboard?

          Like a Nokia E7, you mean? (Which was sort of the final evolution of the Psion organiser design, in a way)

          But this new toy definitely looks nice!

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: 21st century pocket computer

        One version doesnt do phoning!

      3. BillG Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: 21st century pocket computer

        I had an HP 200LX. A full pocket computer, pseudo-GUI on top of DOS 5.0 which let you run your own .bat files or even write your own program. I kicked ass as an FAE over my competition with this little monster.

        1. Trygve Henriksen

          Re: HP 200lx

          You should have sprung for the 700 as that one had a cradle for the Nokia 2110 on the lid.

  2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    "The pocket computer had a multitasking rich operating system and application suite, but was best known for making touch typing possible on a relatively low cost and convenient device"

    They seem to have done away with the idea of touch-typing on this one, as those pictures seem to be missing the little raised bits on the home keys.

    1. Dave 15 Silver badge

      multitasking rich operating system

      That will be a reference to Epoc32, later called Symbian.

      The one ditched by everyone on the back of a piece of linux based crud from an American company, oh well.

      So no it won't manage the battery life nor the security, and it doesn't have the very amazing slide out keyboard that balanced the weight of the screen tilting backwards and making the whole thing a stunning piece of engineering.

      Of course, I will still buy one IF it is made in the UK, is it?

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: multitasking rich operating system

        Of course, I will still buy one IF it is made in the UK, is it?

        Not if is going to be affordable for most of us.

        Is "Designed and Engineered" not enough?

  3. mr_souter_Working

    hope this isn't more vapourware......

    or an early april fool - or some weird joke from El Reg.

    if this is real, and not too expensive, i could see me getting one

    one of the things i really like about my Psion 5mx (still in use), is the Serial adapter, to let me interface with switches and the like. maybe this will at least work with a USB-Serial dongle.

    1. Lusty Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: hope this isn't more vapourware......

      +1, don't mess with us here Reg or we'll burn your office down! We've been waiting for a new Psion for decades :)

      That said, the month of actual usage time on two AA batteries and proper fold out keyboard were really what I liked, along with the ability to use almost no memory to do what Windows does but faster. Put Linux on it, even Android and most of that is lost.

    2. the hatter

      Re: hope this isn't more vapourware......

      I also still have my 5mx as a bulletproof serial console, but is there something you dislike about the many bluetooth->serial adaptors that exist ? Would be the obvious companion if no USB port was available on the gemini.

  4. Oh Homer Silver badge
    Pint

    I still have my Psion netBook

    As in the original netBook, before the advent of generic "netbooks".

    Still works too, although it's hideously dated.

    Rarer than hen's teeth, apparently.

    1. MrT

      Re: I still have my Psion netBook

      Nice - IIRC there was a choice of leather cover, though lots got shipped with black or dark blue. I was looking at either a Series 7 or netBook Pro after happily using an original Series 5 for a few years. In the end, falling laptop prices and a donated US-spec 5mx kept me happy. Laptops come and go, but I've still got both S5s in the attic.

      I used to travel on the train a lot, and remember writing some of my editorials for CastleCops on the original S5, then hooking up my Motorola T250 handset over IR to email them off to be published. The OPL language was easy to use too.

    2. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: I still have my Psion netBook

      Indeed, wonder how much my mx is worth - still with its books and manuals, and of course still working

      1. Oh Homer Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: wonder how much it's worth

        Dunno about other models, but the second hand market for netBooks is basically zero AFAICT, or at least nobody's selling. The most recent listing I found was from last September, and the guy only wanted £100, so it hardly seems worth selling.

        Maybe in another 20 years...

  5. Terry 6 Silver badge
    Pint

    OS

    If this is running a 'Nux OS, so that we're not tied to the Evil Axis of iOS/Android/MS I'll be very excited if it appears.

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: OS

      I'd fully expect an Android on it - doing an OS is *hard*.

      That said, If they're smart they'll open all the hardware API specs so you can scoop out Android and plop $CyanogenRenamed in *and* be able to keep it up to date.

      1. Peter X

        Re: OS

        If it could run something Debian based, e.g. like Raspbian is, then that would... absolutely perfect actually. This _could_ be a seriously brilliant device!

        I guess the problem is that an OS like Android is easier to sell to most consumers.

        Would it be viable for them to ship with Android, but provide a community supported Debian based distro? As long as it looks like they're (Planet/Gemini/whatever-they're-called) committed to the linux distro and can provide drivers/documentation, then I'd be happy with that.

        1. Infernoz Bronze badge

          Re: OS

          Interesting, but cost, build and usability will be critical.

          The quantity and quality of software for a OS is critical, Android and Linux with decent repos. provide loads; more people can't or don't want to write any or most of their software, even developers want enough provided environment for their project scope.

          Not enough quality software for an OS makes that it of limited use and niche or dead.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Read the Article

            Gemini will be dual platform with Linux and Android supported. But future variants may take it in other directions.

            First thing I would do is wipe off the Android cruft.

      2. Lusty Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: OS

        "doing an OS is *hard*."

        For normal people, maybe. Psion created more than one great OS with spectacular popularity as well as some of the most usable productivity apps I've ever seen and their own object oriented language (when that sort of thing was a big deal). If these are the same guys they are perfectly capable of not only making a better OS than Android but also of making that the global standard smartphone OS within a decade. I'd buy one as I'm desperate to get away from control freak money machine Apple and not go to data slurping privacy killer Google. Blackberry and Windows Mobile aren't real options so an OS move from these chaps would be a great move. Especially since their old mobile OS went on to be the leading mobile OS through Nokia for a looong time.

        1. Daggerchild Silver badge

          Re: OS

          "Psion created more than one great OS with spectacular popularity ..."

          and was it pentested? The requirements for 'good' have changed - It needs multitasking, media, USB, usb-hardware drivers, all of which pile on the pressure. The Psion OS was more akin to DOS. I loved it, but it won't fly these days, no matter how many people think it will.

          1. Lusty Silver badge

            Re: OS

            Epoch 32 had support for those things. At the time, no it probably wasn't pentested due to lack of an Internet but I suspect the billion or so Nokia phones which later ran it allowed security to be tested pretty thoroughly. Did you even try to look up which OS Psion created? It was more advanced than DOS by a long way, and probably better designed and more modern than Windows at the time too. Epoch32 (Symbian) only died because Apple came along and later Android. Being tied to Nokia probably killed it more than anything.

          2. SealTeam6

            Re: OS

            "The Psion OS was more akin to DOS." Not all all! EPOC was much more advanced than DOS.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I want one

    Now I have to justify why I /need/ one.

    At $349 for early backers, this looks like a good deal. If retail price ends up being around $549 - $599 definitely less so ... but still looks like a solid offering. I'd have more use for this over a tablet.

    1. theOtherJT

      Re: I want one

      Where are you getting that from? Is there a crowd-funding link somewhere I've missed?

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: I want one

        Go to Indigogo and search for Gemini. Not a site that has the best reputation though.

      2. getHandle

        Re: I want one

        Don't think it was actually in the article: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gemini-pda-android-linux-keyboard-mobile-device-phone#/

      3. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
        1. Adam 52 Silver badge

          Re: I want one

          Confidentially expecting much wailing and gnashing in November when the ship date has slipped. And then again in January when they don't work as advertised.

          1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

            Re: I want one

            Hah, that is quite likely. Personally I think that the delay is almost guaranteed, but I'm OK with that, as long as it does not go into too many months.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    predantry

    "Gemini will be dual platform with Linux and Android supported."

    I'm under the impression that Android itself is built on a Linux kernel. Is it not more correct to say "[...] Android and another flavour of Linux"

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: predantry

      Not really.

      Both use the Linux kernel, but they are vastly different userspaces exposed to users, even if underneath that they have a common layer.

      1. Ogi

        Re: predantry

        For full pendant points, Linux is "GNU/Linux", and Android is "Android/Linux", "GNU" and "Android" are the userlands, and "Linux" is the kernel.

        Linux was originally called "GNU/Linux", but as there never was a real big alternative to "GNU" for the userland, people just called the whole stack "Linux" (much to RMS'es annoyance at the time).

        However now with Android out there, it is getting a bit confusing, as both are "Linux", but with different, incompatible userlands. Hence to distinguish between the two, the prefixes can be used (I've started doing that when you have to clarify "which Linux" you are referring to).

        1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

          Re: predantry

          It is also worth noting that Android has its own set of patches on top of mainline Linux kernel (like many distributions do). Which hopefully explains why a dual-boot.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Steve Graham

          Re: predantry

          I don't call it "GNU/Linux" because only 10% of the software on a typical Linux box originated with GNU. You might as well call it "LibreOffice/Linux" or "Mozilla/Linux".

          (10% is an "estimate", i.e. I guessed. It might be a bit more.)

          1. Ogi

            Re: predantry

            > I don't call it "GNU/Linux" because only 10% of the software on a typical Linux box originated with GNU

            Well, generally in the context of operating systems, the "userland" is all the software that you need to build a bare usable OS. That does not include "end user applications" which can be anything, even proprietary. Doesn't change the userland, which is primarily the work of the FSF's "GNU project".

            I am sure <20% of the apps on my phone originate with Android as well, but we still call the userland "Android" because of all the libraries, systems, services and utilities on top of Linux which make the OS what it is.

            Even if we accept your premise that all software and applications running on Linux is the "userland", most of that software still uses the GNU GPL, making it "GNU" software in that sense (or at least GNU related). GNU is not a company with a trademark, it is more of a philosophy around software development and licensing.

        4. Oh Homer Silver badge
          Meh

          Love Linux, hate Android

          Linux (the kernel) is an amazing piece of engineering. Android, on the other hand, is a hideously convoluted mess.

          An OS that can only be "flashed", not merely updated incrementally? Obfuscated EFS data that's strewn all over multiple filesystems, and impossible to fully locate and backup (resulting in bricked devices when you don't)? Filesystems that can't be mounted as mass storage, but are only accessible via weird protocols like MTP? Nasty hacks needed to move apps from one storage device to another, and even then only partially, where not all apps are even "compatible" with being moved at all (and "paid apps" that apparently can't be installed as system apps)? Modem drivers with a hard dependency on specific builds of the bootloader (WTF?!?!)? A phone that takes three times longer to boot than a fully-loaded PC? The list goes on.

          Not that other mobile OSes are any better, they're all junk yards of non-standard contraptions stuck together with duct tape, designed solely for the purpose of inhibiting the user's freedom and herding them into the vendor's walled garden.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Love Linux, hate Android

            Android is like the speak and spell version of Linux.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Love Linux, hate Android

              "Android is like the speak and spell version of Linux"

              Wouldn't bother me. Having Google looking over my shoulder does.

  8. DJV Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Magic words!

    I see the spec includes the magic words: REMOVABLE BATTERY

    Excellent!

    Just got my 5MX out to compare the keyboards - they look almost identical.

    WANT!

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Magic words!

      they look almost identical.

      Eh, the prototype is using an actual 5mx keyboard, so that's not very surprising.

  9. 0laf Silver badge
    Go

    Oooh shiny

    Looks like the keyboard will sit flat. Wonder if a real one might tip up a little just like the 5. The other picture of the case implies it might.

    It's not a chiclet keyboard either, happy happy joy joy

    1. theOtherJT

      Re: Oooh shiny

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

  10. The elephant in the room

    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.

    1. Allonymous Coward

      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.

    2. Daggerchild Silver badge

      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.

      1. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

        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

    3. 0laf Silver badge

      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.

    4. Tom 7 Silver badge

      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!

    5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      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.

  11. spegru

    gimme gimme gimme!

    1. Tom 64
      Paris Hilton

      +1 gimme

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

  12. Shonko Kid
    Happy

    "Shut up and take my money!"

  13. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    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.

  14. JimboSmith Silver badge

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

  15. theOtherJT

    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.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      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.

      1. theOtherJT

        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?

      2. inmypjs Silver badge

        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.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: That display...

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

    2. Mage Silver badge

      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.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: That display...

      Shhhhh, You'll put apple out of business.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      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.

      1. JLV Silver badge

        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.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          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.

          1. JLV Silver badge

            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...

  16. Ogi
    Thumb Up

    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.

    1. 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

  17. TheProf
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  18. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    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.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      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.

  19. Norman Nescio Silver badge

    Sailfish OS

    Licence Sailfish OS for it, please. Pretty please.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      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.

      1. Zola

        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!

  20. steelpillow Silver badge

    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.

  21. ecofeco Silver badge

    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.

  22. bobmajors

    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.

    1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
      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....

    2. Ian 55

      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.

    3. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      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 ;)

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        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.

  23. inmypjs Silver badge

    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#/

  24. Ian 55

    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.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    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...

  26. pakman

    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.

    1. Paul Kinsler

      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...

  27. Grunchy

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

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      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.

  28. JustNiz

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

    1. ScissorHands
      Facepalm

      Missed it by some years

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

  29. grump old sod

    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.

  30. St3n

    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.

    1. Ciaran McHale

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

  31. User McUser
    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...

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      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.

      1. User McUser

        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.

        1. CRConrad

          Camera thickness

          They should have not a "rear" but a side-facing camera. Hey presto, several inches-long objective built-in possible.

  32. Mad Hacker

    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!

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Linux!

      Read the article.

      1. Mad Hacker

        Re: Linux!

        I did. That's why I was excited!

  33. ScissorHands
    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)

  34. grump old sod

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  35. 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.

    1. Mad Hacker

      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.

  36. mergitur

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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!

  37. Davidmb

    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

  38. HildyJ

    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.

  39. Esme

    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... :-}

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  41. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

    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.

  42. Mellipop

    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.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      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.

    2. dickiedyce

      Re: What a negative bunch of comments

      Agreed.

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

      ...from Scotland.

  43. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Go

    Payment

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

  44. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. chris 143

      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

  45. werdsmith Silver badge

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

  46. andy gibson

    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.

  47. Clive Galway

    SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

    That is all.

  48. Netgeezer

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

  49. Chris Jasper

    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?

  50. dickiedyce
    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.

  51. TimNevins
    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

    1. stephanh Silver badge

      Crowdfunding...

      the ultimate triumph of hope over experience.

  52. steppnav

    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.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    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!

  54. steelpillow Silver badge
    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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