back to article How's this for a stocking filler next year? El Reg catches up with Gemini

Production begins in January on the first new computer form-factor since the iPad – Planet Computing's "modern Psion", Gemini. It has already picked up an Innovation Award from the organisers of the International Consumer Electronics Show next month, where a formal launch will take place. And the project reached $1m in …

  1. steelpillow Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Want one!

    End of.

    1. CN Hill

      Re: Want one!

      Not at that price!

      1. 6491wm

        Re: Want one!

        re "not at that price"

        Interestingly when the Psion 5 was launched back in 97 it retailed for £439 which in todays money is around $755

        Ok so this is no Psion (doesn't run OPL for a start) but boy has it got my juices flowing, in fact guess what I only went & did last night :)

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Want one!

          As long as you bought one afterwards.

          1. Mark Jan

            Re: Want one!

            I still use a Psion 3a daily and have almost 20 years of data on it.

            It's just a beautifully engineered machine with the only weal link being the hinges, which do need looking after. I actually emailed Planet a while ago whether they'd consider developing an app to port everything from a Psion to the Gemini. I would imagine that people like me still using Psions on an almost daily basis are now, a pretty limited market and perhaps not worth the effort...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Thumb Up

              ...whether they'd consider developing an app ...

              Sounds like an excellent project for you in 2018!

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Want one!End of.

      Still time to make a contribution for 299 or 399 for actual phone connectivity.

      Keep in mind the Psion was not actually a phone to begin with.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Want one!End of.

        Which is why it eventually failed.

        The series 3 was cheap enough to be kept in pocket but the Series 5 was very expensive and couldn't connect to anything without an expensive serial lead (which quickly became obsolete due to the rise of USB).

        If the Series 5 had at least Bluetooth then it would have had much better change of surviving but alas it only had infrared and serial.

        It does look interesting though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Want one!End of.

          Unfortunately, at the time that the Series 5 was being developed, USB was brand new technology (and not at all commonplace, and certainly not for compact portable devices), and Bluetooth was similarly new and shiny.

          It would have made sense to have had both on the Series 5mx, but maybe redesigning the circuit board substantially to include these would have been tricky and expensive (although it should still have been done to help with future proofing, but possibly by then Psion was starting to be more interested in how the Symbian world could grow and expand further in mobile phones, with most major manufacturers being very interested at that time).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Want one!

      Me too... Which is why I backed them the minute they went on Indiegogo! :)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Ordered one!

      Couldn't resist; did it as soon as it came out. It'll look great alongside my Vega+ which will definitely utterly and absolutely arrive some time before the universe cools.

    5. Oh Homer
      Headmaster

      "the first new computer form-factor since the iPad"

      Are you saying that the iPad was something other than a tablet, the likes of which have been around since at least Microsoft's Tablet PC in 2002, a full 8 years before Apple finally jumped on the bandwagon, and in one form or another since the late 1960s?

      As for the Gemini, as much as I like what I've seen of it so far, it also doesn't even remotely qualify as a new computer form factor either. The form factor is "palmtop", and has been around since at least the 1980s.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: "the first new computer form-factor since the iPad"

        What you said,... we had a few 'slate' PCs hanging around the office back in the day, so when the iPad arrived it was a bit 'Oh, Apple make them too', and yeah, given the Gemini is a revision of a design,.... it itself is not a new form factor.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "the first new computer form-factor since the iPad"

          I had a Fujitsu Stylistic Windows tablet PC. It was just the "screen", no keyboard built in* had to use a stylus. I had it for about a year and no one took a blind bit of notice. Soon as the iPads came out - "Oooh! you got an iPad!"

          I did get an Apple logo sticker, stuck it on the case and wrote "NOT AN IPAD!" on it.

          If I could upgrade it to Win7 from XP (no driver support) I'll still be using it as it was more use to me than an iPad as it had a network, modem and VGA ports so I could use it to test stuff as I was out and about

          * did have USB ports and a docking station so you could plug in a keyboard

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: "the first new computer form-factor since the iPad"

        It's a bit much to claim "the first new computer form-factor since the iPad" when a lot of the appeal of this device is that it's an homage to the Psion organiser.

        The fact that it is very much not a new design, but instead a tried and tested one is the selling point.

      3. Gio Ciampa

        Re: "the first new computer form-factor since the iPad"

        re: "Microsoft's Tablet PC in 2002"

        I think I can go back further even than that - my first "proper" job was at a research lab at the QE/University of Birmingham, where (by the time I left in 1996) we were looking into using kit like this to hook into the Renal Unit pathology system we had developed - the medics would then have access to blood test results and proposed tests to be performed (automatically generated, via a rulebase).

        As you'd imagine back then - battery life and connectivity were as issue as I recall, but as a proof-of-concept it worked rather well...

    6. Oh Homer
      Meh

      Rear-facing camera or go home

      OK, so now I've had a chance to really think about it, this device isn't anywhere near as exciting as I though it would be.

      I mean, basically it's just an Android smartphone with a keyboard stuck to it.

      No seriously, that's it. Isn't it? If there's significantly more to it then I'm afraid I don't see it.

      So OK, there's nothing wrong with having a proper keyboard for smartphones, as long as the actual "phone" part checks all the boxes.

      Except this one doesn't.

      For a start, where's the camera? I mean the real camera, not the selfie camera.

      Also, a dual-display would be good, so you can actually see who's calling without opening the device, and also make calls with an external touch dial pad. The second display wouldn't have to be full size, just big enough for a dial pad and maybe two status lines. Relocate the speaker and mic to the back somewhere, while you're at it, so this thing can actually be used as a phone, without having to play the iPhone 4 Twister game.

      Other than that, yeah, pretty good, but honestly I think their money would've been better spent by just developing the keyboard itself, then selling it as an accessory for any phone. That way they wouldn't have had to pointlessly reinvent the smartphone, and I wouldn't be expected to shell out £/$ 600 for yet another Android device I don't need just to get a proper keyboard.

      Executive summary: this is a £/$ 600 Psion keyboard screwed onto an Android phone.

      I'd buy the keyboard for £30. Max.

      Let the downvotes begin...

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: Rear-facing camera or go home

        OK, so now I've had a chance......

        More than Android, runs Linux too

        Rear camera is an optional extra ($49)

        Lights in fold can be programmed to show caller or whatever, not perfect but better then nothing.

        Mic and earpiece are already on the back, button on side for answering so you don't need to open it to use it as a phone.

        The USP is that it's a fully functioning Linux computer with a decent keyboard and a phone too.

        By the way a separate keyboard for a phone in this style wouldn't work because the centre of gravity would cause it to topple backwards and a keyboard pointing upwards is not a lot of use, this device has the battery in the base so it doesn't fall over. An external keyboard with an extra battery might work but I'm not sure if people would want another heavy item in their pockets.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Want one!

      I still have my old Series 5.

      Hmm... why haven't I kept using it....

      Oh wait, the screen that's unreadable in sunlight or inside or everywhere. And the pen that would stuck and the microswitch that I removed to repair my dad's Series 5S which kept telling him that the compactflash-slot door was open and...

      Hmmm... I'll guess I'll just wait and see.

      Perhaps as someone mentioned it would have been better to sell the keyboard as an add-on for existing phones.

      Also why Mediatek? Aren't they the absolute WORST with regards to open-source (e.g. for Linux drivers)? Somehow it just feels a bit fishy...

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Want one!

        "I still have my old Series 5.

        Hmm... why haven't I kept using it....

        Oh wait, the screen that's unreadable in sunlight"

        Are you sure it was a Series 5?

        The Psion display was transflective LCD, superb in sunlight, even directly on the screen.

  2. drand
    Thumb Up

    Resistance has finally gone

    Been umming and aahing about whether to commit to the Indiegogo but having seen this I know I'm going to do it. Fuck it, it's Christmas and the money is pouring away like a rancid bottle of mulled wine down the sink anyhow.

    1. Semtex451 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Resistance has finally gone

      "money is pouring away" nice festive imagery and I'm pleased it isn't just me with that issue

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Resistance has finally gone

        I held back because of previous indiegogo disasters. I'm happy to pay the extra 100 or wait for an improved V2 as I would like linux and was disappointed with their focus on Android.

        Also author, I'll take the feel of the Toyota over an Audi or Merc any day. I want it to keep working for years.

  3. Laughing Gravy

    I'm in

    Just because...

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Salestard

    I was hovering, but...

    Shut up and take my money!

    Lumia 950 finally end of life... ThinkPad Tablet II died in mysterious circumstances a few months ago... still miss my old BB PlayBook's almost-pocket portability...

    I am most certainly in... As the bishop said to the actress.

  6. steelpillow Silver badge

    Linux

    Seriously, I am a bit concerned that the Linux "dual-boot" might turn out to be a simulator or VM on top of Android. I don't want Google getting in the way and tampering with it.

    1. RockBurner

      Re: Linux

      I too would rather it was a full-on Dual-boot, rather than Linux-on-Android.

      That said - I can see WHY they'd go for LoA. It means the device will still function (easily) as a phone - I can imagine anyone buying the 4G version will expect it to replace their phone as well as their netbook.

      Personally I'd prefer a phone that does it's job as a phone, alongside a mini-laptop that functions fully as a mini-laptop.

      that Agenda software does look nice I have to say - I like the way it mimics an old-style paper diary in it's layout, some older fogeys like myself will appreciate it.

      1. Lomax
        Alert

        Re: Linux

        > Personally I'd prefer a phone that does it's job as a phone, alongside a mini-laptop that functions fully as a mini-laptop.

        Check out the Pyra, successor to the Pandora; not only fully open source (including the hardware), but made in Germany and equipped with a full complement of ports. https://pyra-handheld.com

        1. depscribe

          Re: Linux

          I looked at the Pyra and decided that it's got little in common with the Geminision -- keyboard even worse for typing, lower resolution (which sometimes matters) and, well, the community kind of at its worst. Also, far more expensive.

      2. Pedigree-Pete
        Thumb Up

        Organiser anyone?

        @ RockBurner. Totally sympathise. Anyone else have Thredz Organiser? PP

        https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwib5rnjhq_YAhXJoqQKHWmaCSIQFgheMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FIBM_Lotus_Organizer&usg=AOvVaw0xO16wTRdKVCAZArUnwLNK

    2. RNixon

      Re: Linux

      From what's been shown in some of the updates, they intend to have both dual-boot and the VM solution, although it hasn't been mentioned in a while. There's a demo video showing it booting straight into Debian then rebooting into Android.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Linux

      I backed them based on it being dual boot Linux, as I'm only bothered about having the Linux on there... Want it for on the go Linux hacking and development. Already have my phone for android.

      I'll be slightly annoyed if they switched dual boot for Linux on android, but thankfully I don't think that's the case... That's an additional option.

    4. Paul

      Re: Linux

      I imagine that Linux on Android will be lxc or other chroot container.

      I do this already on my phone, with a full debian shell environment. If I want a gui I have to use a virtual frame buffer in vncserver, then use android vncviewer. It's slow, but it does work.

    5. nautica
      Thumb Down

      Re: Linux

      Then you don't want THIS.

      Read EVERYthing on the Gemini...including the fact that one MIGHT be able to

      ROOT THE MACHINE to make it run Linux natively.

  7. DJO Silver badge

    Oh well

    I have absolutely no pressing need for one of these and certainly cannot afford to spaz $400.

    I ordered one in September.

  8. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Holmes

    Finally, a new Desire Z

    Just with better keys.. and...well I wonder if when It's fully launched I can convince work to let me get one as a business option?

    I'm also tempted to poke the product development team to have a look too (since I work for a mobile provider and all that jazz)

  9. MrRimmerSIR!

    Ordered

    Two things I wish it had, which have stopped me from ordering up to now:

    1. Backlight on the keyboard (would be so nice if the letters would light up like my HP Envy laptop, rather than glowing aroud the keys).

    2. Mediatek SoC... AFAIAA, they have not released all kernel source code under GPL, which stuffs up custom ROMs and future versions of Android.

    Nevertheless, we'll see what happens. Thanks El Reg!

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Ordered

      Hopefully Google's Project Treble should make Android updates less dependent on chipset vendors delivering binary blobs... but as you say, wait and see.

      Another option is a Moto Mod physical Qwerty keyboard.

    2. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Ordered

      Backlight is a bit tricky:

      Stick a LED under each key and the battery life is dramatically cut. - Unacceptable

      Using a diffuser plate under the keys depends on the keyboard design and would add at least an extra mm to the thickness - Unacceptable

      Run a fibre to each key from a single light source , too fiddly and fragile and would be prohibitively expensive to make - Unacceptable.

      Add an alpha emitter and some phosphor to the ink on the keys, cover with a clear lacquer - This would probably work and not be too expensive but would never get regulatory approval.

      What would probably work is to stick an UV LED in the top 2 corners of the display pointing to the keyboard and add some phosphor to the ink.

      In reality the keyboard is so close to the screen unless you have a really dark screen it will bleed enough light onto the keyboard to render a backlight largely unnecessary.

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Ordered

        > What would probably work is to stick an UV LED in the top 2 corners of the display pointing to the keyboard and add some phosphor to the ink.

        I think this is one idea that needs to be quietly shelved, for the sake of mankind (or at least office coworkers).

        https://sciencing.com/kind-stains-black-lights-detect-5045775.html

      2. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: Ordered

        "Stick a LED under each key and the battery life is dramatically cut. - Unacceptable"

        Actually no, if you that you can radically reduce the brightness of every LED and therefore radically reduce the power you need to drive it. In essence it doesn't matter how many LEDs you need, what matters is the total amount of light you need.

        The Pyra, for example, uses a middle ground. It uses some LEDs for the keyboard, with a diffuser in between.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Ordered

      Given the distance from the sceeen I suspect a backlight isn't strictly necessary. I don't think the Psions had one and I don't think it was an issue at the time.

      Personally, I don't care too much about the SoC. Unlike so many box shifters Planet has a vested interest in providing a good after-sales experience for this product. The discussions so far relating to the Linux port indicate that those who really need a unix in the pocket will get everything they need. However, loads of Linux-numpties seem to focussing on whether their particular whatever will be available. Not difficult to understand why the Linux market has never functioned in that respect: people seem to want everything but are not willing to pay for it: teenage hobbyists.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Ordered

        "The discussions so far relating to the Linux port indicate that those who really need a unix in the pocket will get everything they need."

        BSD?

      2. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Ordered

        I don't think the Psions had one and I don't think it was an issue at the time.

        Given that the keyboard on my 5mx was good enough to touch-type, I never felt the lack of a backlight. Also, of course, the screen itself was never the brightest (even with the backlight) so the tendency was not to use it in pitch black!

        M.

  10. Zippy's Sausage Factory

    Years ago I said I'll get a smartphone when it's basically a Psion with a phone attached.

    Seems reality has finally aught up with my aspirations from 1996...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Seems reality has finally aught up with my aspirations from 1996..."

      Now all I want to see is an organizer app that's as smart as Agenda seems to have been in 1983

      But the days of people writing things that assisted you, rather than simply allowed you, to do things seem long gone.

      1. Oldfogey
        Thumb Up

        Agenda..... or Organizer?

        I still haven't found diary software better than Lotus Organiser (2.11), which I am still using, mainly on Win7, but it works on Win10 as well.

  11. onefang Silver badge

    Dvorak keyboard as an option? Might happen if I read the article correctly. Though it does look a bit smaller than the full size keyboard I would want, and I'd want a black on white keyboard, white on black is for screens.

    1. Flicker

      The Indiegogo page (linked from Page 1 of the article) lists Dvorak as one of the keyboard options.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

        That is all..

        Portable device with hardwired Dvorak, now that's a rarity!

    2. harmjschoonhoven
      Happy

      Re: Dvorak keyboard

      A Dvorak keyboard layout is fine. But stick to one keyboard layout. Years ago I had a Z-80 with a hand-wired Dvorak keyboard. That worked fine over the weekend, but on monday I had to retrain to the company QWERTY layout. AFAIR the Dvorak layout was tested on an American warhip where all keyboards had that layout with great succes.

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: Dvorak keyboard @harmjschoonhoven

        I think you've fallen for a common piece of propaganda; the Navy has no record of the trial, and Reason magazine (though, warning: libertarians, so with their own bias towards proving that markets work) sought a copy they managed to obtain it only from an organisation called Dvorak International and noted that:

        (i) it has no listed authors;

        (ii) it discards out of hand two prior studies that seemed to have the opposite outcome;

        (iii) does not fairly compare the QWERTY and Dvorak results it contains, picking alternative summarisations for each that produce better numbers for the latter;

        (iv) the Australian Post Office test of Dvorak, which is much better documented, found no improvement;

        (v) the Navy experiment was conducted by: Dvorak himself (!); and

        (vi) when the study was repeated after the war by the General Services Administration, they got exactly the opposite result: QWERTY was the better layout.

        So they concluded that the idea that a worse standard defeated a better one here seems to be a myth. I can see why Dvorak should be better, with most of ETAOIN SHRDLU on the home row (though I don't know what 'L' did to suffer its banishment to the far corner of the keyboard), but it sounds like the empirical evidence might be a myth.

        1. handleoclast Silver badge

          Re: Dvorak keyboard @harmjschoonhoven

          Upvoted for "ETAOIN SHRDLU." Some of us remember the old days of typography. Others (like me) just remember reading about the old days of typography. Well, I did actually see a typecase in use in a working environment, but I was too young at the time to bother noticing the arrangement of the letters, and wouldn't have figured out why they were arranged that way if I had noticed.

          Bonus points if you can name one of the SF authors who used ETAOIN SHRDLU in a story.

          Actually, my increasingly faulty memory tells me that one of those SF authors used it in two very different stories. Google confirms one of them, but not the other (which wasn't SF, although it read most of the way through like fantasy). Extra bonus points (and mystery biscuits) if you confirm that memory.

          Ob trivia: ETAOIN SHRDLU approximates the order of frequency of the twelve most commonly-used letters in English, so were arranged in that order on a Linotype machine, which meant authors with a background of journalism and/or printing used them in a story. Those relative frequencies makes it a good strategy to use them in that order if you're playing hangman.

          1. Mephistro Silver badge

            Re: Dvorak keyboard (@ Handleoclast)

            Back in the seventies or eighties, there was an "AI"* program that was able to carry out orders and make descriptions and predictions, in the limited context of a universe populated with basic geometric shapes, and it's name was SHRDLU.

            *I was able to code a passable clone in my Commodore 128, hence the comedic quotes around AI. 8^)

            Edit: There is a reference in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SHRDLU .

            1. handleoclast Silver badge

              Re: Dvorak keyboard (@ Handleoclast)

              @Mephistro

              You'll find there is also a Wikipedia entry for EATOIN SHRDLU, giving its origins.

              It seems that the Linotype keyboard has inspired a few things. Whether directly or indirectly is hard to determine. Your "AI" program may have been named directly (as Wikipedia claims) after an obscure typographic fact of Linotype keyboards but may actually have been named (based indirectly on Linotype keyboards) after an SF story by Fredric Brown with the title "ETAION SHRDLU" about a Linotype machine that exhibited AI.

              30 {even more obscure journalistic convention]

              1. Brad Ackerman
                Trollface

                Re: Dvorak keyboard (@ Handleoclast)

                The Linotype in that story was displaying GIGO, which I'm not sure counts as intelligence. Artificial 4chan?

              2. DanceMan

                Re: Dvorak keyboard (@ Handleoclast)

                Upvoted for "30"

                Thanks

      2. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Dvorak keyboard

        "A Dvorak keyboard layout is fine. But stick to one keyboard layout. Years ago I had a Z-80 with a hand-wired Dvorak keyboard. That worked fine over the weekend, but on monday I had to retrain to the company QWERTY layout."

        That's why I'd like a hardwired Dvorak that's pocket portable, just plug it into what ever random computer I have to sit in front of when out and about. Having it's own screen and CPU running Linux makes it useful on it's own. If it doesn't already have one, I'm sure I could whip up a "make this a USB keyboard" app. I've written USB keyboard firmware in the past.

  12. MrKrotos

    Very nice.....!

    Been keeping an eye on this for a while now, just ordered one for myself :D

  13. andyp-random-number

    ...like an old Nokia N 810 then?

    That was the best gadget I've ever owned. A Nokia N810 with 2018 specs, with phone, better camera and a version of linux would just tick all the boxes. This Gemini thing looks to be close.

    I ran a webserver, PHP and MySQL from one of those - so I could work from my car when I had hours to kill waiting for the wife to finish shopping :)

    1. Graham Dawson

      More like an N900, one of which I still own for nostalgia's sake. Pretty sure I still have the N810 lurking around here as well...

      1. Ogi

        Oh wow, memories. I had three N810s (two in use, one spare), then a N900 (and I would still be using it if it didn't stop booting for some reason). Proper Linux on them, with the build chain, so you could (and I did) compile programs on it, and because you had a standard X server, you could run any Linux software on them, even open office.

        I had one as a combo LAMP server for testing/debugging, with svn repo, DHCP and DNS. I could connect to it via ad-hoc wifi and work away where ever I was (usually via the other N810).

        I had another as a portable desktop, and set up the X server to accept remote connections. I could also forward specific applications via SSH X forwarding. So in addition to using it as a portable machine, I could hook up to a network and use it as a desktop PC via a thin client.

        This was really powerful, long before the masses were talking of being able to plug a phone into a screen/keyboard and have a full desktop, I already had it running and usable. Even the slow 802.11b wifi was adequate for basic terminal server use (don't go watching video over it). And because they didn't mess around with the Linux OS much, I could have all the desktop Linux software on it with no modification.

        Not to mention I could code in any Linux supported language. I hacked Perl/Python/PHP and C on it merrily.

        The N900 had a smaller keyboard, which I didn't like much (I prefer the N810 form factor, fits better in my hand) but they added a phone, and the SMS and phone apps could be called via the terminal, so I made little scripts, things like automatically sending "Happy New year", "Merry Christmas" bulk SMSes to my contact list, Also scripted a few "Happy Birthday" auto texts, and would pipe the fortune program to SMS for certain people so they got a "fortune of the day".

        Once my N900 died, I had to go with Android. Android has ever since been a poor replacement, a reminder of how far backwards we went with flexibility, power, hackability and freedom. I tried the chroot Linux on it, but it always seemed unreliable, bug prone, and not worth the hassle of hacking it together.

        I never had to worry about My Nokias spying on me, or shoving ads down my throat, but it is a constant (and increasingly difficult) task ripping all that crap out of Android to make it usable (but still not an OS I would trust with sensitive data). It is getting harder and harder to be able to reflash ROMs, unfortunately.

        That is why This Gemini has held my interest for so long. It is like the next incarnation of the Nokias I had (and going further back, to the original Psion, Jornada 720 and the Libretto 20). I have already decided to get one, but will probably wait until it hits production before I purchase it. The first piece of tech I am quite excited about in a while!

        Oh, and Merry Christmas to all of you :-)

  14. Dr_N Silver badge

    Needs a camera as standard.

    For scanning receipts for expenses.

    Otherwise it's looking good.

    Just so long as they remember that the Psion's major advantage was, "Software. Software. Software."

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Needs a camera as standard.

      I guess some people will still carry a normal smartphone too, and use the smartphone's camera. Hence the WiFi-only version of the Gemini.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: Needs a camera as standard.

        Nah you don't need that, the missus has a digital camera with it's own wifi hotspot to transfer images around. Just use one of those (also good for remote triggering of the camera with any handily available phone)

    2. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Needs a camera as standard.

      It has a face facing camera as standard, the optional one is higher resolution a rear mounted job.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Needs a camera as standard. For scanning receipts for expenses.

      Actually I've long dreamed of something with a line scanner built into the spine for general document digitization.

      Still waiting....

  15. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Two things stand out as speed bumps along the way to getting this accepted, by me at least:

    1. If I'm on the phone, I like to be able to quickly glance at a message coming in, or a call waiting. With this device, you have to open it up to check the screen. A really minor point I know, but it did occur to me that it might make it slightly awkward.

    2. It's a device for communication. So why no front facing camera? The rear-facing camera I can see as maybe optional, but I like to make video calls to people sometimes. Seems like a serious omission to me.

    But apart from that, the convenience of the form factor and keyboard built in probably does over-ride those two points I made. The USP of this device is the form factor. It doesn't actually do anything my phone can't. It's like a Nokia Communicator, but modern.

    I used to own a Psion series 5 mx and it was an excellent tool at the time. The form factor was amazing even in 96. The ability to carry just one device for simple note-taking needs to be emphasised or it won't sell though.

    I know someone who used a 5mx until last year for taking patient notes - he's a psychiatrist - and he loved it. Only problem was getting the notes off the thing. He has hundreds of files, and each one needs to be tediously exported to word, one at a time.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      To answer your second point: a camera for calls has always been part of the package. See https://c1.iggcdn.com/indiegogo-media-prod-cld/image/upload/c_limit,w_695/v1505160608/koqlvsl2jqrm7ypq7kiu.png

      1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        Thanks - I obviously missed that. That's looking really useful now.

    2. RNixon

      When I first saw this I thought it would be a good companion to a smartwatch. The watch makes up for the lack of an external screen by showing notifications and having convenient music controls and such.

      There is a selfie-cam in it, specifically for video calls - they've demo'd that at a few events.

      I have one on order, and plan on replacing my Blackberry Priv with it. The only thing that concerns me is using it for navigation - some sort of fairly funky dash mount will be needed, I think.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      " like to be able to quickly glance at a message coming in, or a call waiting. "

      Umm.

      The lights on the front can be customized for whatever.

      I'd expect you can set them up for caller on hold, text, IM

      Wheather you can flag individual numbers as "High Priority" PHB/Dealer/BF/GF/Legal married partner, is another matter.

      1. depscribe

        Re: " like to be able to quickly glance at a message coming in, or a call waiting. "

        Alternately, you could adapt some of the available freeware apps to blink out the message in Morse code . . .

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      " It's like a Nokia Communicator, but modern."

      The key difference between this and a Communicator is that the latter had phone keys and display on the outside. It's not clear how this will make calls in anything like the same convenient fashion.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "It's not clear how this will make calls in anything like the same convenient fashion."

        The answer is probably the voice control button. Press that and tell it who to call. I wonder if it will speak the ID of incoming calls.

  16. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Thanks

    Dear Andrew,

    a quick note of thanks for pointing this product out early in the year and providing updates. Such a refreshing idea in this age of identikit smartphones. Kudos to Planet for their openness about design and development. I'm looking forward to receiving my Gemini fairly soon but would point out to any potential customers that all Indiegogo is somewhat risky: you might end up empty-handed. This is not to suggest that Planet is anything other than serious, just that you have virtually no recourse if things don't work out.

    1. handleoclast Silver badge

      Re: Thanks

      Sheesh, am I that drunk? Already?

      I could have sworn I just saw somebody thanking Andrew Orlowski for one of his phone(ish) reviews. I must have stumbled into a different universe when I staggered to the toilet. Back in my old universe, Andrew usually gets slagged for his phone reviews. :)

      1. Graham Dawson

        Re: Thanks

        T'is the season of miracles.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Thanks

        Andrew usually gets slagged for his phone reviews

        Only the Windows Phone ones. In general the phone reviews are excellent.

  17. ISP

    Terminal

    So long as there's some way to use it as a serial terminal I'm in.

    Still need to do that often enough...

    1. yourtechjohn

      Re: Terminal

      It'll have a pair of usb c ports. I've already seen usb-c to db9/rs232 serial port cables (Tripp-Lite makes one).

      You can boot directly into linux, or run linux on android. There's also serial terminals apps for android itself, though I've never been too impressed with those. However, that might be because I usually don't have a good keyboard on android. My main use of android serial has been by connecting to a bluetooth serial port attached to a raspberry pi. It's kind of fun to have a headless pi, pull out your phone and watch the pi boot up, then log in and get it working with wifi in a new location.

  18. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Interesting display. But not a word on the elephant in the room.....

    Batteries.

    One of the nicest things about Psions were they could run off regular batteries.

    I know. Consumer expectations...Can act as a phone as well..

    So any word on battery life (with or without phone option)?

    Any word on battery replaceibility?

    1. CT

      Re: Interesting display. But not a word on the elephant in the room.....

      From their website tech specs:

      "Removable Li-Ion 4220mAh battery"

      but with one caveat

      "We are working hard to achieve the above technical specifications for Gemini"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Interesting display. But not a word on the elephant in the room.....

        > Removable Li-Ion 4220mAh battery

        This is "removable" in the sense that "you don't need to take it to a shop to get it replaced", but not in the sense of "you can carry a spare one and swap it on the go". It involves pulling off a ribbon cable I believe.

        However, they do plan to make a clip-on battery expansion pack.

        One of the reasons for the size chosen is that there are limitations sending anything much larger through the post.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Interesting display. But not a word on the elephant in the room.....

      Comparison with a Psion isn't really realistic because full-colour screen as opposed to passive LCD and radios. But the spec suggests that the device should be good for at least a day's real work: ie. at least several hours with the keyboard. Should outclass a lot of other devices with similar size but the productivity boost is the real winner.

  19. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Now I see that it has a built-in front-facing camera, I really want one. I'll wait for the reviews though. It could be a useful adjunct to a smartphone - a different form factor that might wow the business world.

  20. IGnatius T Foobar
    Linux

    Want one ... but will it sell?

    I can't think of any Penguinista who wouldn't want one of these. But will it sell in the mass market? For now, I'm looking forward to buying one on the cheap after it fails. But I hope I'm wrong!

    1. Piro

      Re: Want one ... but will it sell?

      I would imagine the exact opposite will happen with regards to price if it fails: I reckon it will rise sharply as it becomes a collector's piece, a unique device with a following.

      Just look at the Motorola Photon Q, a phone from 2012 that is STILL today in 2017 the best landscape slider that exists. People still mod these to include a SIM slot (it was only available on one network, with an embedded SIM).

      It's just getting slow with the newer OSes and bloated websites of today with its dual core 1.5GHz Krait and 1GB of RAM.

      If there continued to be more phones like it, it would have basically no value today. The Gemini fills a slightly different need, since it is much larger, but I feel like for most people who wanted a phone with a decent keyboard, it's going to be close enough/be the only modern alternative anyway.

    2. nautica
      Thumb Down

      Re: Want one ... but will it sell?

      "...I can't think of any Penguinista who wouldn't want one of these..."

      Are you prepared to 'root' the device?

      Would you know how to 'root' the device?

      Neither can I think of any "penguinista" who wouldn't want one of these, as long as it were a TRUE LINUX DEVICE, and not something that runs Linux under Android.

  21. Lorribot

    COG does not move

    The foot extending does change the COG of the device.

    Opening the lid will move the centre of gravity outside the base of the device. Extending the foot moves the support so it is outside the centre of gravity and thus stablizes the device.

  22. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: Janko Mrsic-Flogel?

      Was my first thought when he joined Planet. Seems his new friends are not letting him wreck things this time round.

  23. Bibbit

    Blimey

    That looks amazing. If only I can convince my better half.

  24. Tom Paine Silver badge

    Stupid ****ing IndieGoGo code

    I rushed straight over tonchipbin $25 but the sodding IndieGoGo backend rejects my perfectly accurate postcode, probably because it's \w\w\d \d\w\w and they are fuckwits who think all UK "zip codes" start with two letters and two digits. Sorry chaps, I'd like to help, but you evidently picked a shit crowdfunding site.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Stupid ****ing IndieGoGo code

      I have a postcode where both numbers are single digits and had no problems on their site. Perhaps the problem is at the other end?

      Even still it is often possible to add leading zeros if necessary.

  25. Trilkhai

    No double-quote or period keys?

    Am I just overlooking them, or are the double-quote and period keys actually missing from the keyboard layout? Using the terminal or writing prose/code would be a pain without them, especially for people who can rapidly touch-type…

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: No double-quote or period keys?

      "Am I just overlooking them, or are the double-quote and period keys actually missing from the keyboard layout?"

      Presumably double-quote is where it normally is, shift-2. Is that the period on the / key? Confusing if it is. But for something intended to run Linux where have \ and | gone?

      1. tfewster Silver badge

        Re: No double-quote or period keys?

        Zoomed in, it looks like the period is unshifted "?" (not the . on the ?)

        " is shift+2, normal for UK keyboards

        \ is Fn+3 - not quite as convenient for Linux users, but not a hardship. And / is shifted too, in the interest of balance :-)

        | is Fn+1

    2. miker2017

      Re: No double-quote or period keys?

      Looks to me like the " is above the 2 and the . is below the question mark, just like on the Psion 5.

    3. miker2017

      Re: No double-quote or period keys?

      It looks to me like the double-quote is below the two and and the period is below the question marl, just like on the Psion 5.

  26. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Will this be the first indigogo project to come to fruition?

    Just wondering.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    delivery and customs to the UK?

    This is a worthy upgrade to my trusty 9210i which is looking very battered these days. How much would delivery to the UK cost and what would customs charge? Do recall being stung £150 by customs for an mp3 player I ordered in 1992. Isn't there some kind of trade deal with the US now or am I in the wrong part of the wrong timeline.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: delivery and customs to the UK?

      "How much would delivery to the UK cost and what would customs charge?"

      From Companies House:

      Name & Registered Office:

      PLANET COMPUTERS LIMITED

      228A HIGH STREET

      BROMLEY

      ENGLAND

      BR1 1PQ

      Company No. 10468629

      I don't know of any customs barriers between Bromley and the rest of the UK but with things going the way they are anything could happen.

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: delivery and customs to the UK?

        I've been to Bromley and would support barriers between it and the rest of the UK (but with no export tariff for telecommunication devices).

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: delivery and customs to the UK?

        I don't know of any customs barriers between Bromley and the rest of the UK but with things going the way they are anything could happen

        I don't think 228a High St Bromley is anything other than a registered office address provided by a firm of accountants above a Domino's Pizza shop.

        But the prestigious address at Blandel Bridge House, Sloane Sq. SW1 might be getting warmer.

    2. Jah

      Re: delivery and customs to the UK?

      Will shipped from the UK.

  28. gurugeorge

    Sorry but I will not buy this as

    1.it doesn't have FaceTime and isn't made by Apple. How do you get AppleCare on this if it's not made by Apple.

    2. I can't see an apple logo, so I can't use iMessage

    3. How do you connect to the App Store without Apple?

    4. I won't be able to use all the amazing Apple technology like airplay, CarPlay, airdrop etc. Honestly I'd rather spend the $400 on Apple AirPods so I don't need a cable. Yes you can get better rated Bluetooth headphones for a fiver but what's the point if it's not Apple

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Linux

      "what's the point if it's not Apple".

      That is the point.

    2. The Axe

      Nice trolling, got some bites. :-)

  29. Joe Gurman

    Erm, "inside pocket?"

    Perhaps I'm not sufficiently familiar with the language as spoken in Blighty, but does that refer to the inside of a man's suit or sport jacket pocket? If so, where do women and men without such attire put the device when not using it? There is a reason the smartphone (range of) form factor(s) took off, isn't there?

  30. The Infamous Grouse
    Thumb Up

    I've had one of these on order since the Indiegogo went live, my reasoning being that even if it fell short of its goals there's nothing else remotely like it on the market. But with each iteration they seem to bring it even closer to my ideal vision for a 21st century Psion, and now that I can see how visually similar the custom calendar app is to EPOC Agenda (still the best PIM I've ever used) it's almost perfect.

    Of course as with any crowdfunded project there's always the chance we've been snakeoiled, and that the whole thing will collapse at the eleventh hour, and I will live with that constant possibility until the day it arrives or is officially killed off. But at least I can be reasonably sure that if this thing gets delivered it's going to be amazing.

  31. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Very Interesting

    If it can run purely as a Linux device I'm in. It seems exactly what I want as a general purpose personal assistant (without any stupid AI).

    Also, being dextrously challenged with fat dry fingers, touch screens are virtually unusable for me - indeed such a 'smart' phone was the only electronic device I ever lost my temper with.

    1. depscribe

      Re: Very Interesting

      I agree with you re. pure Linux, but one thing that has me worried is the (so far) crap telephony support in Linux. Am wondering how/if the phone will work when Linux is booted.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very Interesting

        Am wondering how/if the phone will work when Linux is booted.

        Quite probably not at all, but there is a chance that either libhybris/halium or plasma will eventually make it work (links on page 3 of the article).

        Otherwise, there's a reasonable chance that at least it would work as a built-in 3G/4G data dongle, and you can run Skype or Hangouts on top of that.

        Running a Linux chroot userland on top of the Android kernel is probably the path of least resistance though, for having a Linux system with full phone functionality.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looks like one of the devices Nokia would have made

    Had it not been led astray for a few years by Microsoft during the so-called 'strategic partnership' under Stephen Elop.

    I would imagine it running Meego, before transitioning to Android.

    Side note:

    I wish the manufacturers wouldn't be so snobbish about certain features e.g. FM radio, IR blaster, 3.5mm audio jack, dual SIM, removable battery etc. I know you want the device to be slim and sleek, and minimal bezels are the fad now.

    But sometimes you just need to get back to basics.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Looks like one of the devices Nokia would have made

      Have you considered that killing that line of very usable devices from a popular and well-known manufacturer was not the fallout of Elop's mission but the point of it ?

      Of course, as always, Microsoft couldn't provide an adequate replacement for what they destroyed.

  33. Mage Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Remember the Nokia Communicator N9200?

    Nokia could have done this 10 years ago. But the people doing Communicator, S80 / Crystal etc lost politically to the dead end S60 and they made the E65 and then 5800. Blah.

    There were other gadgets like this 10 years ago.

    Is there a market AT THAT PRICE, or do we just need a decent clip on for a smart phone that can be USB hub and accept charging and be a decent QWERTY. Why is every small Bluetooth keyboard garbage? I've only ever found one decent small keyboard, which was USB for a shelf on 19" rack to have mouse space. A slightly smaller Folio USB keyboard is nothing like as good yet still far better than the BT keyboards which have rotten action, sleep too soon, take too long to pair or wake and usually have no way to type accented letters on UK or US layout.

  34. ScissorHands

    H.265?

    The only thing stopping me is knowing if the chipset can accelerate h.265 (and not knowing if Kodi android works properly)

  35. Criggie

    ANT+ support

    I'd like to know if it supports ANT+ for connectivity to sensors.

    Many high-end android phones have the hardware, but its rarely listed on the spec sheets.

    https://www.gsmarena.com/res.php3?sSearch=planet+gemini lists no results as yet.

  36. E net

    Right to Left language use? Not according to the Welcome Screen

    Hmm. Looking at the welcome screen, Arabic users (and maybe any right to left users) can basically forget it.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Right to Left language use? Not according to the Welcome Screen

      As that's in software I would think they want to get it working properly L to R before working on R to L.

      The bulk of the interest has come from UK, USA & Japan which are all L to R. The first batch is going to backers and if there are no R to Ls in that selection there's no point in wasting too much effort to get it into the first batch however I'd be very surprised if that wasn't sorted by the time it goes retail.

  37. Craig McGill 1

    Gemini will ship in 30 flavours - are they mental?

    That seems a tad extreme - the variation and complexity there is surely OTT and will give them manufacturing grief...

    (I always liked the Sony consumer kit trick of a base model, base model plus £50/£75 and then a third model at £50/$75 above that - was simple and you knew the differences.)

    1. Piro

      Re: Gemini will ship in 30 flavours - are they mental?

      They're really just referring to the localised keyboards, as far as I understand it. There are not that many options, otherwise.

  38. The Kernal

    Almost there

    Looks to be a great device, and because its always appreciated here's some unsolicited advice.

    * Waterproof (water/dust resistant)

    ** Bezel-less screen

    *** built in stylus

    **** duel cameras [* *] for depth sensing

    and taa-daa!!! you've got the best mobile device ever created.

    1. Piro

      Re: Almost there

      Fighting cameras? Not sure that's a feature I needed.

      If you meant 'dual' cameras for stereoscopic imaging, I think that's a waste of money.

      Waterproof, nah, it'd probably wreck the keyboard feel. Stylus? Maybe, no Bezel? Not critical, but a nice to have, although some space alongside the screen for decent stereo speakers would be more useful than eliminating all the bezel.

  39. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Oh look. Someone has rediscovered the Nokia Communicator.

  40. depscribe

    Blackberry isn't Blasckberry anymore and doesn't support anything running the Blackberry OS. Apple has taken a wicked authoritarian turn that puts MSFT at its worst to shame. So I really hope this takes off, for two reasons:

    1. Otherwise I'm out $450 (including shipping to the U.S. from, I guess, Mars).

    2. What else is there? This is the only new phone/PDA/palmtop for grownups I've seen in forever.

  41. Cartimand

    Looks good, but not convinced that price tag can be justified - especially as $s tend to translate into £s when such devices cross the Pond.

    Does Gemini do much that a mid-range tablet/phablet or netbook cannot?

    1. DJO Silver badge

      $s tend to translate into £s when such devices cross the Pond

      Depends which side of the pond it starts from.

  42. tcmonkey
    Thumb Up

    If this had released a little earlier, I would have been very tempted. In the end I bought a GPD Pocket, which is a little larger but is x86 based and thus will run practically any modern OS one chooses to throw at it (dual boot full Windows/Linux in a palmtop form is very nice).

    All this being said, I am absolutely in support of these guys for keeping the Psion dream alive. I was rather sad when they stopped making devices.

  43. NotJustAStorageDude

    iPhone clamshell case please!

    Hey I’m cheap and lazy. My company provide an iPhone “whatever version is mainstream” or a Galaxy S “latest”. I can’t get access to corporate resources on a non-corporate device, and that’s becoming increasingly common throughout the industry particularly with a nod to GDPR etc.

    I’d love a clamshell case variant of this keyboard as:

    Being lazy I’m not going to learn another device - the switch from idiot tax devices back to android is just too hard I’ve got better things to do with my life;

    Being “cheap” I have a device provided for me that works and I’m happy to spank a wad on accessories but not a whole new extra device to carry around.

    ..but I’m not that cheap and would readily pay a lot for a Bluetooth keyboard case of this quality.

  44. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    Open hardware?

    It looks really good, but the sticking point is how open the hardware is. Anyone dropping money on Android based hardware should ask what the plan is when the manufacturer stops supporting it.

    I don't want 'Linux on Android' - I want to be able to boot a bare metal OS, and very preferably without firmware blobs, so that at some point e.g. BSD can run on it.

    I loved the Psion hardware, but it isn't the 90s any more, and connectivity/security is important. I want this to be a computer, not another phone which becomes unusable after two years due to a lack of updates.

  45. Frogmelon

    <cough> Vega+ <cough>

  46. PT2007

    Hopefully the Psion PDA apps can be ported, would be amazing to open existing Psion data, sheet, word, paint etc. files! - just add a clip-on stylus? Two micro sd card slots would be nice, like on pro DSLRs in case of a card corruption. Wireless charging as well?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019