back to article The Gemini pocket PC is shipping and we've got one. This is what it's like

They've really gone and done it. They've made a modern Psion: a brand new computer that fits in your pocket – one you can touch-type on and everything. Planet Computing's Gemini is not just a PDA: it has been called "the only interesting phone in the market," which shouldn't sound so weird – the Gemini model with a SIM card …

  1. Allonymous Coward

    Where Gemini's value really lies

    I think Orlowski missed a trick here. I can see quite a lot of potential value for people who really need a keyboard because their workflow doesn't support or require much else. Thinking of sysadmins and the like. It's not all about Evernote and MS Word.

    Admittedly a niche market, but this seems like a niche product.

    1. Lysenko

      Re: Where Gemini's value really lies

      Agreed. Writing English is a niche activity I can do in various ways, including this on screen touch keyboard. Writing code, particularly code that is formatting sensitive (Python), is where this is going to be a game changer (for me).

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Where Gemini's value really lies

        I agree - as a sysadmin, the ability to pull a device out and be able to quickly through a terminal emulator and run basic diag, before dragging out the laptop if it's really necessary would be handy.

        IE doing a quick htop, df -h etc - things that aren't as easy with a soft keyboard.

        I think I'd need a reasonable linux distro on there, rather than Android, though.

        I'll be watching this with interest.

        Steven R

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Where Gemini's value really lies

          I think I'd need a reasonable linux distro on there, rather than Android, though.

          I remember it being marketed as such - you were supposed to have access to the underlying Linux and it was supposed to be nowhere near as crippled like the environment used to run Android.

          I believe this is fixable. Recent android kernels have support for lxc so you should be able to spin up a proper distro as a container. This should be goof enough for most stuff.

        2. Tom 64
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: Where Gemini's value really lies

          Just give me a fullscreen linux terminal, and I'll be very tempted to open my wallet indeed.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Where Gemini's value really lies

      "Admittedly a niche market"

      Oh, I don't know. I'm writing this right now on an S7 with a Bluetooth keyboard because while swipe-to-type is useful, it's pretty rubbish for anybody who actually wants to write something (plus no swipe-type keyboard I've ever seen has a Tab key)...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Admittedly a niche market"

      So niche that any device that appealed to sysadmins only has been a total failure. Especially since even many sysadmins like to show off with the latest fashionable gadget, only true die hard ones would get devices like this, and they are a niche into a niche - and without profitability, no company can survive.

    4. Oh Homer Silver badge
      Meh

      I can't help feeling...

      This is just a nearly good keyboard screwed onto an Android phone.

      It's the "nearly" part that really bothers me. Well, that and the £600 price tag.

      The fact that the custom software is still in beta is annoying too, but I can overlook that for the sake of good hardware, especially as software can be easily updated.

      Sadly the hardware cannot, short of shelling out another £600 for Gemini 2.0.

      If they ever release just the keyboard, updated to be closer to the Series 5, and at a reasonable price, I'd buy it.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: I can't help feeling...

        The fact that the custom software is still in beta is annoying too, but I can overlook that for the sake of good hardware, especially as software can be easily updated.

        They are a hostage to Android and its dodgy keyboard support.

        Perhaps a touchscreen (I assume it hasn't got one) would fix the shortcut issue more easily than rewriting a load of Android apps.

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Re: I can't help feeling...

          Perhaps a touchscreen (I assume it hasn't got one)

          Assumption is the mother of all cock-ups.

          Of course it has a touch screen.

      2. Sloth77

        Re: I can't help feeling...

        It's $600 not £600 - and that is for the Wifi+4G version. The Wifi only version is $499, which is actually only about £350 in GBP.

        And I got it for £236 as an early backer :-)

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    But how do you make a phone call with it?

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      How

      To make a call you start the Phone app (it's on the Dock) or hit Fn-Esc. You can then close the lid and carry on talking. It doesn't matter which way up you hold it, as there are two mics, and it works out which one is nearest your gob.

      I would like to have tested this of course, but the SIM slot isn't working. If you have a wrist-jobbie that gives you alerts, it becomes feasible to replace a regular phone.

      1. Graham Dawson

        Re: How

        A fancy watch is next on my list once the gemini had arrived. It's a combo that will serve very well, I think.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: How

        To make a call you start the Phone app (it's on the Dock) or hit Fn-Esc. You can then close the lid and carry on talking. It doesn't matter which way up you hold it, as there are two mics, and it works out which one is nearest your gob.

        DTMF is going to be a bit inconvenient.

        If you were to install a Linux distro, what happens to phone support/SIM data when running Linux?

      3. zumbruk
        Happy

        Re: How

        A "wrist-jobbie"? Really?

    2. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Why would you make a phone call with it? For decades there are now mobile phones as well as payphones for when you wish to telephone when you're out and about. Also most stores and restaurants now have a telephone you could use.

      But why telephone, when you can e-mail or fax with one of those.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        "Why would you make a phone call with it?"

        Because it's being marketed as a phone, but no where was it explained how to make a phone call. While I agree about payphones, Frank Williams might have conducted business out of a pay phone in the early days of his team, but when he was successful he had a phone number people could reach him on.

        Thank you Andrew for the explanation. I would've thought the screen would swivel outwards so you could hold it with the screen facing you, if that makes sense? Could see the benefit of it swivelling out like that especially if you want to take notes with a stylus.

        I'm intrigued though.

        1. Phil W

          "I would've thought the screen would swivel outwards so you could hold it with the screen facing you"

          Like the old XDA Exec (HTC Universal). https://www.gsmarena.com/o2_xda_exec-pictures-1279.php

          If the Gemini was like this I'd be a bit more interested. If it had a power button I'd be a bit more interested still (I can understand key combos for lots of things, but power seems a pretty key thing to have a hardware button for), and if it wasn't so damned expensive and impractical to insure (because most phone insurance providers won't have heard of it) I'd have bought one already.

          I'm hoping they're successful and v2.0 ticks all of my boxes, but unfortunately my practical sense tells me that this isn't going to be case.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I loved my XDA Exec, kept it running up until mid-last year when it finally died a death.

          2. wolfetone Silver badge

            "Like the old XDA Exec (HTC Universal). https://www.gsmarena.com/o2_xda_exec-pictures-1279.php"

            Exactly like that!

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          I would've thought the screen would swivel outwards so you could hold it with the screen facing you

          The design was always supposed to be similar to the Psion 5. There are mechanical reasons for this not least a stable centre of gravity when typing with both hands. I suspect that doing a full swivel would have added quite a bit to the complexity. Might be done in a later model, but you might be better off with something like the I-Pad-Pro or the Surface that promise a 2-in-1.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I suspect that doing a full swivel would have added quite a bit to the complexity

            Actually just disconnecting the rear foot from the screen would remove complexity but then you couldn't sell it as a pretend Psion.

            The fact is that this is just a smart phone in a fancy box, running something other than android would have made the difference but since the hardware was orginally for the mobile market then you have to do your own linux which is where the difference between the RPi and this or say pine64 comes.

            Now you can buy a laptop style case with 14" display/keyboard etc for the RPi and use a decent fully working/supported linux and for much less money although admittedly with correspondingly less CPU. This being because the RPi design phylosophy put more emphasis upon linux than a fancy box and have gone out of their way to keep android off the RPi.

            Thus I would say that if you want a portable keyboard with a maintained linux for say remote shell/RDP etc then the price of the added CPUs is for no benefit at all and having also kept my libretto 50 (still working on battery) I can say that remote working on a tiny screen didn't help with the aging of my eyes, the 14" one for the RPi is much more functional and people won't accuse you of excessive self abuse.

            However if you want a smart phone that says "I am a sysadmin, bow before my Psion style packaging" but doesnt come with a fully accessible linux then clearly you put useless pretties above functionality or perhaps you just want an advertising discount.

            As an asside I still have my Acorn Pocket book 2 (Psion3) and it works today just as well as it did when I bought it i.e for weeks on full batteries, show me the smartphone that is still secure, fully working and has not needed any repair for a fraction of that working life and I will agree that it is Psion like.

            http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/5047/Acorn-Pocket-Book-II/

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toshiba_Libretto

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > But why telephone

        Because it then becomes a phone-replacement device: you don't need the weight, expense or additional SIM card of a separate phone.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Christian.

        You needed to put the joke icon, it's gone over a lot of peoples heads.

      4. MrRimmerSIR!

        @Christian

        "payphones"

        "fax"

        1990 called asking for its technology back.

      5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Joke

        "But why telephone, when you can e-mail or fax with one of those."

        Wot? No app for sending Telex? No Morse key? Well, I'll not be buying one then!

        Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.

    3. GBE

      But how do you make a phone call with it?

      But how do you make a phone call with it?

      Now you're just being silly.

      Nobody born since the last moon landing uses phones for making phone calls.

      If "making phone calls" becomes "a thing", I'm sure somebody invent some small portable device that you can use to do that. Rumor has that Nokia used to make such things.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: But how do you make a phone call with it?

        Sony make a little Bluetooth device about the size of a little finger. It has a small monochrome display, a 3.5 mm headset socket and physical call and media transport buttons. it can also be used as a standalone Bluetooth headset. As a bonus, it contains a standalone FM receiver, and has a clip for attaching to shirt pockets etc

        It could be a good companion to this Gemini device.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: But how do you make a phone call with it?

          "Sony make a little Bluetooth device about the size of a little finger. It has a small monochrome display, a 3.5 mm headset socket and physical call and media transport buttons. "

          And you an use it as a stylus? :-)

  3. Shonko Kid
    Thumb Up

    Replication of key Psion use-cases

    What I want to know is, am I going to be taking it out of my pocket to find that it's drained it's battery recording 4 hours of 'pocket noise'?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Replication of key Psion use-cases

      And the winner of the 2018 Turner Prize is…

  4. Chris G Silver badge

    I just want one!

    I had a couple of Psions back in the day, the 5 I had a couple of weeks then got burgled by some bastard.

    I write for a hobby and write notes about everything because my memory is rubbish, I have tried countless apps for writing and note taking but at the end of the day, half your screen is virtual keyboard and the other half is small script that makes my head ache. I have a Tab 4 which I like typing on but it doesn't fit in a jacket pocket, so, clamshell with real qwerty keyboard, I want.

  5. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Far from complete

    I'd say a large part of the people wanting to buy that device couldn't care less about Android. They bought it because it's promised to get a propper native Linux.

    1. DarkwavePunk

      Re: Far from complete

      The following gives an update on the state of Linux on the Gemini:

      Linux update

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Far from complete

      I don't agree with this assessment I think most of us want an Android with a keyboard fro e-mail, ssh, etc. It's only a vocal few who want a full Linux on this.

      1. Phil W

        Re: Far from complete

        "It's only a vocal few who want a full Linux on this."

        Indeed, and many of those who claim to want Linux would be better served by Android anyway because most of the reason they want Linux on it is to ssh to other Linux stuff which you can do perfectly well with Android while simultaneously not making it difficult to use as a phone and cutting yourself off from a whole ecosystem of apps.

        1. Christian Berger Silver badge

          Re: Far from complete

          Well Android has the problem of lots of crud from Android one does not really want.

          On the other hand Android is severely lacking on other fronts. For example if I want to take a photograph and send it via e-mail, it's very hard to scale it down to some reasonable size. On a normal Debian I could just use imagemagick or gimp to scale it down.

          Same goes for simple things like access to fileservers. Yes you can get an SMB client for Android, but for that you need Google Appstore access or root. On a normal Linux system that's just installing a package and running a mount command.

          1. Phil W

            Re: Far from complete

            @Christian Berger

            Those are some terrible points you've tried to make. Android is far from perfect but if you're going to pick holes at least pick real ones, especially ones that are OS related not specific app related.

            "For example if I want to take a photograph and send it via e-mail"

            Like most Android things this varies by what apps you install in this case your choice of Camera,Gallery and E-Mail client. But certainly the gallery app on every Android I've ever owned has an edit function which can do many things including resizing quite easily and also has a button to share via email which automatically passes it to your mail client as an attachment on a new email. While the Gmail client doesn't offer an option for resizing attached images, others do including Nine which I use.

            "Same goes for simple things like access to fileservers. Yes you can get an SMB client for Android, but for that you need Google Appstore access or root. On a normal Linux system that's just installing a package and running a mount command."

            So you're saying on a "normal Linux system" you'd have to install a package (presumably from a distro provided repo via their preferred package manager) to be able to mount SMB.

            But you have a problem with Android because you have to install an app from the vendor provided appstore using their preferred appstore interface (and actually you could find the APK for an SMB capable file explorer and install via some other method if you wished). If you can't see that these two process are very nearly functionally identical then you're clearly deliberately blinding yourself to Android because you've chosen not to like it.

            I love using Linux for lots of things, but a small form factor device with a touch screen is not one of the areas where Linux shines.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Far from complete

            '..SMB client for Android, but for that you need Google Appstore access or root.'

            F-droid

            Ghost Commander

            Ghost Commander - Samba plugin

            1. bobmajors

              Re: Far from complete

              A file manager that can access an nfs/smb share is not a substitute for the ability to mount one.

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: Far from complete

                I f***ing detest Android. To me Android is just a waste of good storage space.

          3. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Far from complete

            "For example if I want to take a photograph and send it via e-mail, it's very hard to scale it down to some reasonable size."

            What?

            The Gallery thingy has an edit option that lets me resize, crop, and some other tweaks. I can't say I want to scale the image to an exact size, but I can shrink it down.

            The standard email client, also, has resize options (large 70%, medium 30%, and small 10%). Oh, and since you can access the filesystem (unlike iOS ;) ) you can even use the email client as a quick and simple image resizer instead of faffing around with the image editor. Just attach the image to an email, resize it, pluck it out of /Download, then cancel the email.

            So, no, not particularly hard...

          4. DrBed

            Re: Far from complete

            > "On a normal Debian I could just use imagemagick or gimp to scale it down."

            Actually, you can use Gimp or Inkscape natively at Android - it's already compiled for years now.

            https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.gimp.inkscape

            But screen size will be issue (it should work on Chromebook imho; so you don't need crouton for those there).

            Wine v3 (alpha) now runs on Android; just Gemini is ARM (= only Win RT apps), but, in theory, you can run even Paint.NET ;-)

            https://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2411497

            But yes - Android makes sense but I'll rather use some real Linux, in container or as dual boot. As Samsung did it with Ubuntu few months ago, chrooted Galaxy S8 (Android):

            https://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2017/11/samsung-linux-galaxy-video-demo

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Far from complete

          "cutting yourself off from a whole ecosystem of apps."

          Would that be a whole ecosystem of data slurping apps wanting access to every subsystem on the device irrespective of whether their relevance to the alleged purpose of the app?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Far from complete

          "...those who claim to want Linux would be better served by Android anyway..."

          Good luck with writing and testing small ad-hoc bash/php/perl/python snippets to get around an emergency or fix problems before running them on the production systems, or even mounting NFS exports, on Android. Then there's all the telemetry and adverts that seem to be stuffed in to nearly every android app I've seen...

        4. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Far from complete

          Using Android to SSH to other stuff does not help me avoid the Google slurp.

          Just give me the linux without the layers of google cruft.

      2. Allonymous Coward

        Re: Far from complete

        Maybe... personally (i.e. sample size = 1) I suspect people want a keyboard for keyboardy applications like ssh and email and don't care too much which OS underpins it.

        That said, you can already get a Bluetooth keyboard for Android devices that are probably already better at being Android devices when compared to the current Gemini iteration. But a truly open & vendor-supported software stack is something that's missing in the marketplace just now. So I can understand the desire for Linux from a freedom/diversity/tinkering/differentiation perspective.

        1. Alistair Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Far from complete

          @Allonymous Coward:

          After a quick skim of the forum they have BT1 does *not* appear to be working - although the implication is that it is coming.

          1:bluetooth, not bell or british telecom

    3. 27escape

      Re: Far from complete

      A proper working and fully function linux on android would be my preference Termux is pretty good but still cannot get all the packages you may need

  6. Bloodbeastterror

    Ribbon cable?

    I loved my 5MX and gave up on it only when the ribbon cable between the body and screen broke with too much flexing. I hope this one has a better mechanism - when the bugs are ironed out I might well get one just for the (modernised) trip down memory lane.

    1. wheelybird

      Re: Ribbon cable?

      The motherboard is in the screen section. The keyboard section is for the battery & keyboard only. Hopefully the keyboard connector isn't a ribbon. :D

  7. Bob Vistakin
    Happy

    Nokia

    If they'd stayed the course, this is the sort of thing they'd be launching about now.

    I bet they are watching this "new" form factor sector very closely indeed!

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Nokia

      Probably not Nokia, but perhaps Samsung after their decent success with the "revolutionary" idea of a pen.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Nokia

      Nokia just expressed their joy at getting rid of consumers altogether heading into exclusive-business-to-business territory. So they could hardly care less. HMD might, but at current rates of overwhelming industry-wide apathy regarding qwerty handsets I'll need some serious evidence before I believe that.

    3. Inspector71

      Re: Nokia

      SailFish which was born out of Maemo (N900) and Meego (N9) can run on it so in a way you could add a little bit of Nokia if you want. I might give that a go.

      1. petefoth

        Re: Nokia

        I believe SailfishOS can also run Android apps, at least on the Jolla phone. When that works on the Gemini I'll move from Android to SailfishOS

  8. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge
    Happy

    OPL

    When is the OPL programming language coming out? :-)

    1. Mellipop

      Re: OPL

      Sigh.

    2. JeevesMkII

      Re: OPL

      Hey man, OPL is open source. Symbian/EPOC EUser is open source. You can port it any time.... have fun!

  9. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge

    Oh, and I'd just like to add...

    Take note certain ZX Spectrum re-makers that took half-a-million quid and produced nothing: This is what you can do in a year when you're not twats.

    As you were.

    1. bobmajors

      Re: Oh, and I'd just like to add...

      You know Mrsic-Flogel is the "CTO" of both projects?

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Oh, and I'd just like to add...

        Janko joined Retro after the bust up though.

        1. bobmajors

          Re: Oh, and I'd just like to add...

          Indeed, which means he joined when they had the £1/2 million of backers money, got paid some of that for "consultancy", got paid some more for producing firmware that apparently doesn't work and is 25% responsible for the 2 year delay.

    2. terrythetech

      Re: Oh, and I'd just like to add...

      "Take note certain ZX Spectrum re-makers that took half-a-million quid and produced nothing: This is what you can do in a year when you're not twats."

      I think that is because the ZX Spectrum re-makers are trying to emulate the full Sinclair experience of devices turning up rather late.

  10. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    "To get a new computer to market in a year, with an entirely new mechanical hinge and keyboard, is an amazing achievement by Planet"

    Hmm, so it can be done,.... anyone from Retro Computers Ltd listening?

    Mind you, install a Spectrum Emulator to the Gemini, and you got some fun right there, in your pocket.

  11. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge

    Just looking at the screenshots of it running Ubuntu

    Want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want want .

    Want.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Just looking at the screenshots of it running Ubuntu

      Because Canonical have suddenly nailed the problems of small screen GUIs?

    2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Just looking at the screenshots of it running Ubuntu

      Don't hold back, tell us what you really think. =-)p

    3. annodomini2
      Devil

      Re: For those with kids...

      Stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick, sticky sticky stick stick

      1. raglits

        Re: For those with kids...

        Or a slightly different version ...

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PDxV1kfgzY

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just looking at the screenshots of it running Ubuntu

      Ok, ok, we get the message, I'll take that as a proof of concept, but let me know when it runs a real linux distro, maybe I'll get as enthusiastic...

      1. psychonaut

        Re: Just looking at the screenshots of it running Ubuntu

        oh look the linux geeks have their own sects, how cute!

  12. James 51 Silver badge

    If you could get Scrivener or Sigil running on this I'd be very interested indeed. About to shell out for upgrading my broken desktop so it will be next year before I look at this. If the phone call stuff isn't too big a hassle might even be able to do away with my Q10.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Scrivener is excellent, but last I heard they stopped supporting their linux version and just handed it over for people to download, it hadn't had an update for a while.

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        Indeed and it won't run on the latest version of Ubuntu but hoping WINE will allow the windows version to work.

        1. DJO Silver badge

          WINE would be nice but will probably be quite tricky with the processor in the Gemini, perhaps in a year or so when everything is settled down.

  13. James 51 Silver badge

    Double battery and a stylus would be the upgrades I'd like to see for V2 but getting the software right is more important.

  14. 0laf Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    This was the closest I ever got to chucking some cash at a start up. But the failures of others and just the basic fact I really wanted a new Psion but didn't need one stopped me.

    The V1 sounds a bit rough for me but if they get things ironed out and especially if they get a Linux dual boot on it (hell I'd even take W10 on it) I think I'll have me cash out for a V1.5 or V2.

    Best wishes for the development team and Planet to keep going.

    1. Dave559 Bronze badge

      Version 1

      I think with any version 1 device, it’s almost inevitable that it will never be quite what everyone wanted, and perhaps not quite as polished as it ought to be, but if not enough people buy version 1, then there never will be a version 2!

      Having said that, Planet seem to have provided a pretty professional product at a very competitive price for crowdfunder backers, and the imminently coming Linux installer sounds a lot less rough edged than perhaps some of us might have feared it could be.

      So, well done, eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Gemini, and continuing good luck for the future!

    2. Mike 125

      The V1 sounds a bit rough

      Some of us went through the pain of having to use pre-NT MS Windows for real work. We know what 'V1' (and earlier) feels like. And I'm damn sure this is not like that.

      I was on the point of buying a WileyFox recently. It's tough out there.

      Best of luck to all concerned. I'll be in the queue.

  15. Allonymous Coward

    Replaceable battery

    I missed that titbit the first time around. Bravo, Planet.

  16. MrKrotos

    Cant wait to get my unit to play with :)

    Please hurry up Mr postman :P

  17. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Fair review

    Thanks very much for the review and confirming that devices are actually shipping. Appreciate that Planet have been very busy over the last few weeks.

    It looks like some people are going to be very disappointed when theirs arrive but I'm looking forward to mine: a second mobile phone with a keyboard will be useful in many situations but cannot replace my waterproof S5 in others.

    As for unlocking: I've been using a pattern for years: it's much easier than anything else when you've got gloves on. Course, I could always get an Apple Galaxy X and rely on facial recognition… but let's not go there.

  18. G R Goslin

    Ah, but when?

    As one of those waiting for the knock on the door, I'd appreciate a little more news as to how these things are being distributed. The wait is killing me!

  19. ScissorHands
    Unhappy

    The keyboard looks tasty, but...

    I have some very bad memories of my Ericsson MC218 keyboard. The feedback wasn't very good (can't really describe how, but I just took it out again to check), it seemed that the keys wobbled a bit, and if you didn't hit the key dead center it would fail to register or have a horrible feeling to it.

    I never had access to a 5mx to check if it was the exactsame keyboard or if Ericsson messed with it.

    It's not TOO bad if you're thumb-typing in your hand, but horrible if index-typing on a table.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm missing something...

    So can it easily take my appointments and schedule my day?

    From what I read this is a nice palmtop with plenty of features courtesy of Android but I couldn't help missing out on anything hinting at how it could make a good PDA. I definitely agree that having a good keyboard is awesome, it takes getting used to but once you have you can then do miracles. I've written many drafts for reports with my Psion 5mx.

    But the thing is: it could also take care of my planning, it scheduled my meetings, it did a whole lot more.

    I don't see this here...

  21. steelpillow Silver badge

    Decisions, decisions...

    Debian or Salifish? Aaaargh!

    I can see that I am going to want the Google Assistant voice button a lot when the case is closed. Things like, "OK Google, call my bank". That means Android.

    But when I open it I am going to want Linux a lot. Things like, ">! *?@*!!!<, launch bash, $ dropbox start" or "$ apt-get-install pdfmod"

    Um.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Decisions, decisions...

      Forget dropbox start on ARM .

  22. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    Impressive

    I was worried it wasn't going to be an open platform - more than anything that's the biggest risk - oh hello, my Blackberry Priv, which has lovely hardware but is now receiving no more updates and can't be rooted.

    Multiple OS choices, removable battery, 4G option, USB-C. Consider me interested.

  23. JeevesMkII

    Open source drivers?

    What's the status on the linux drivers? Binary blobs or full open source?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Open source drivers?

      Reality applies. Chipset makers use blobs to protect their commercial interests and this is no exception.

      1. JeevesMkII

        Re: Open source drivers?

        Yes, but there's a big difference between "we've licensed a signalling stack that runs on the modem core that we can't distribute the source for" and "we consider the register interface of our USB chip a trade secret." It'd be nice to know which case this is.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will be good for network diagnostics and remote desktop work on servers. Smaller than a tablet and keyboard combo.

  25. Cowboy Bob

    Half Man Half Biscuit

    So no-one else recognised the reference? I am disappoint...

    1. PhilipN Silver badge

      Re: Half Man Half Biscuit

      Best of British

  26. Brush

    Missing part

    Where do we plug in out Psion Dacom Gold card modem?

  27. Cederic

    it's too big

    It wont fit into my pockets, so it'll have to go into my bag.

    If I need to get it out of my bag I may as well just grab my Surface Pro with a decent sized screen and even better keyboard.

    I just don't have a use case for this, awesome as it otherwise appears to be.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: it's too big

      Get bigger pockets.

      1. Cederic

        Re: it's too big

        Sure. I'll sew a six inch long pocket onto my trousers, add a flap to stop things falling out, fit some sturdy plastic to stop it deforming and look like a right twat just so that I can carry this thing around.

        Or I could carry more portable devices and use a bag for shit that's too big. But see my previous comment.

    2. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: it's too big

      It's too small for me.

      As you said, it's better to have e.g. a surface and the keyboard on there.

      Even that's not really good. I have large hands and typing (properly) on anything smaller than a standard size keyboard is an absolute pain - I can't fit my hands on it and reach all the right keys with the right fingers.

      I'd love one of these but I can't help but feel that I would be reduced to pecking at the keyboard with index fingers

    3. Morat

      Re: it's too big

      Cargo Trousers are coming back - official!

  28. doublelayer Silver badge

    hopefully a replacement for those cheap windows 2-in-1s

    I think this could be useful for sysadmins in that you could access something when you are dealing with something away from the main control center. I'm not a sysadmin, but sometimes I have to do some of the same things. I got one of those cheap windows 10 2-in-1 tablet things that are all powered by the same intel atom chip. It works OK, especially after I managed to have it boot Linux off a micro SD card, but it can still be rather annoying. It's small, but its 9 inch screen makes it impossible to put in any pocket. If they can get this one running Linux, too, that would make it really worthwhile. Perhaps they could get it so that it can run Linux on some of the cores (maybe a quad-core component) and have android take the rest? Then you could be productive in Linux without killing your phone capability, assuming that requires android to run. I'd like to leave android behind, but I just can't see that being possible with the way these devices are typically designed.

  29. Stjalodbaer

    Close ...

    What one really wants is something with physical format à la Blackberry Passport, but with a truly modern origami keyboard (in some cool material like a titanium-carbon fibre blend) that collapses into the frame.

  30. PhilipN Silver badge

    Not a 2018 Psion ...

    A 2018 IBM 110 Palmtop PC from IBM Japan, and a different era :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wt4kf-PYy44

    Psst... It also made phone calls

  31. Mark Gannon

    Streaming your thoughts...

    I'd imagine the Xmind Zen mind mapping tool would work really well on this...except I've just checked and it looks like it's IOS only right now. Gemini could work with Xmind to get an optimised version on Android...would be v. cool.

    I still have my Psion5MX in a drawer...looking forward to trying out the Gemini.

  32. This post has been deleted by its author

  33. Christian Berger Silver badge

    I just got mine

    I have to say I'm impressed by the hinge, it stays open by itself so you don't need a desk to use the keyboard. For blind typing the little bumps on f and j are missing, but the keyboard is to small for that anyhow. It should work for typing with your thumbs though. Since these early models still have Android on them, it's hard to properly judge them.

    The FM-radio does have RDS but I haven't been able to get it to play stereo, the app for it the usual barebones Android app which is terribly barebones for something shipped a billion times. There is some quite heavy crosstalk into the audio even when nothing is playing. It's particularly audible when scrolling.

    Yes it kinda comes with an SSH client, but it's closed source and you need to install it externally. They must have looked hard to find a closed source SSH client, and this kinda eliminates the point of having SSH.

    Other than that it seems to be stock Android, which constantly tries to nudge you into getting a Google account.

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: I just got mine

      A big show-stopper is the keyboard layout, the "3rd" layer of the keyboard doesn't work. So it's very hard to type even basic symbols like the "-" (minus) require going through an on screen keyboard. Considering that they actually printed those signs on the keys, I assume that this is still a bug.

      Here's a video of someone trying Android as a primary operating system. He does that by using termux.

      https://media.ccc.de/v/zeteco-59-termux_als_betriebssystem

  34. RNixon

    Looks like there's a problem with the first run of Geminis - people are reporting they've got an x25 CPU, instead of the x27 that's specced.

    A comment over on the Indiegogo page says Planet have confirmed it but haven't yet said what they're going to do about it.

    (the x25 is a bit slower and a bit more power-hungry than the x27.)

  35. cream wobbly

    Battery life?

    The Series 3 got a month from two AAs. The Series 5 got a week from two AAs. How long does a 4Ah battery last with this thing? How long does it take to charge?

    "Perhaps they could double the battery capacity to 8000mAh, as was originally envisaged."

    Perhaps. And how long would *that* be expected to last? How long to charge?

    This is the *only* obstacle to me adding one to my wishlist, and making room in my budget.

  36. pdtpoet

    Not a geek - but a "real world" heavy Psion user's feelings

    My heart skipped a beat when I saw the Gemini PDA and, in one review, placing it side by side with the legendary and much-missed Psion 5mx. I am an American and a Psion user since 1993...buying each iteration of the diminutive "palmtop" since it was launched. As a physician-scientist and developer of new medications, I would take my Psion 5mx to FDA meetings and type over a dozen pages on the word processor, which seamlessly downloaded into the Psion link on my PC to produce a format-identical Word file. The same was true of Excel files. Another wonderful aspect of the Psion 5mx was its power source - two AA batteries which lasted about a week with the lcd monochrome screen - and so a battery switch was virtually instantaneous without waiting for a "charge." And the backup battery held the data, but it also took CE cards for storage.

    When the Psion 5mx was no longer supported by Psion, I bought two on eBay just in case mine became damaged or broken. There has never been a device before or since which allowed such productivity in such a small package. In my search for replacements i purchased the UMID "mbook" m1 which was about as big as a Psion, had a color screen and ran Windows XP. if only the keys had been a bit bigger it would have been a good substitute, but it wasn't at all and I bricked it.

    Needless to say, with tears of joy in my eyes I have just ordered the Gemini PDA (wi-fi verson), the leather case and connection hub, and am eagerly awaiting my device. And I am practicing typing on my Psion 5mx until the Gemini arrives!

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