back to article Planet Computers straps proper phone to its next Psion scion, Cosmo

Planet Computers, creator of the Gemini PDA, has pulled the covers off its next-generation device – the Cosmo Communicator. Planet brought the clamshell QWERTY back to the market 17 years after Psion made its last PDA*, and will continue to sell it. But Cosmo is even more ambitious, intending to fully replace your phone. The …

  1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    I do want one - but finances and my budget gives a resounding "Nein".

    :sadfaceguy:

    1. steelpillow Silver badge

      Still a shedload cheaper than a Crapple, and soo much cooler!

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Beware, as the first batch of Gemini that came off production had keyboard problems and had a different-than-promised SoC.

        Also, the person that got the Gemini delivered left Planet last month. One of the people that failed to deliver Vega + is in charge.

        It's another watch and wait for me, but the price feels a bit high. Cosmo is billed as a Communicator, the Gemini was a mobile creation device. This will definitely work better for people who want to use it as their main and only phone.

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Beware, as the first batch of Gemini that came off production had keyboard problems and had a different-than-promised SoC

          To be accurate the first ones off the line had exactly the SoC that was promised in the original specification, the subsequent ones had a slightly better SoC.

          The keyboard issues were largely rectified by the provision of replacement mats.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            To be accurate, Planet announced "Final Hardware Specification" in September 2017:

            "Gemini's CPU has been upgraded from Mediatek's Helio X25 to Helio X27. The Helio X27 processor is an update to the X25 processor and has faster main cores and a faster GPU. The fastest cores are now running at 2.6 MHz. It has overall better power consumption characteristics than the X25 chip."

            **and also dual SIM with an eSIM along with a physical one excluded from the early X25 ones.

            Then some early backers who felt they had been the enabling support and the longest wait felt a bit aggrieved that they didn't get this and later backers did. This caught Planet by surprise too, they were not expecting it and did apologise.

            The key mat was a self fit, involving removing and refitting all the keys. It didn't go well for some.

            I do love my Gemini (a nice later one) but I'm not diving in on this.

  2. djstardust Silver badge

    I still have

    My Nokia 9110i and it works great.

    Must admit I don't use the fax functionality that often ......

    1. Edwin

      Re: I still have

      Me too. I also have my 9300i (darker shade of grey, features WiFi) and my E90. My E7, sadly, was stolen.

      The fax feature was super handy when receiving the daily summary of new houses on the market from estate agents in teh early 2000s.

  3. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Windows

    Suddenly glad I didn't splurge on the Gemini

    1. GregC

      Suddenly glad I didn't splurge on the Gemini

      Yep - I was thinking of getting a Gemini as a Christmas pressie to myself, but seeing this has changed that. Gemini is 90% of what I want, and none of the missing features were a deal breaker, but this looks like it covers all the bases and then some.

      I see they've hit 99% of their Indiegogo target already, personally I'm happy to wait for the final product and the reviews - if it lives up to what they are promising then I'll be buying.

    2. rmason Silver badge

      @Semtex451 - Yep, mirrors my thoughts too.

      Was trying to persuade the beancounters to let us have a couple for out of hours support etc.

      I can't do that now, not knowing that a better version in en-route, because this one looks like it could actually replace my work issued phone too (something the current iteration can't quite manage).

      I know full well that if they can have £several_hundreds worth of iPhone back off me, then the spend on this won't be as bad.

      With the current model I need my laptop, a phone *and* the toy, when this lands then I'll only need this+laptop. That saves them circa £500 in i-phone money.

    3. JeevesMkII

      I do have a Gemini, and it does suddenly feel like haha, you bought the prototype buddy. The keyboard backlight especially is a feature I could really use.

      I'm glad Planet got enough money for a second product though. It's nice that there are still phones out there that aren't all the same boring Android slates.

    4. Dave559 Bronze badge

      Re: Suddenly glad I didn't splurge on the Gemini

      But if some of us had not decided to take the risk with the version 1 device, then there never would have been a version 2…

      It would be nice if Planet were to offer a discount to all v1 purchasers, and not just those who sign up quickly. I'll need to give some serious thought as to whether I can justify/afford spending more quite so soon (I'm not really an "upgrade every year" person).

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: Suddenly glad I didn't splurge on the Gemini

        Hopefully the Mk1 will have some resale value, they're still selling them at about double what the original backers paid so it "might" be possible to recoup some expenditure.

        The sensor list includes a compass as did the list for the Gemini but due to the magnets used to hold the case shut it was disabled at the hardware level. I've asked if they've sorted out this issue - perhaps using a spring instead of magnets but their reply was uninformative, i.e. the respondent didn't know one way or the other.

  4. Captain Hogwash Silver badge
    Coat

    You'll need big pockets

    ...since the Cosmo is no small piece.

  5. Timmy B Silver badge

    Very interested.

    Anyone who has the previous device got any idea what the after sales support has been like?

    1. steelpillow Silver badge

      Aftersales support

      @TimmyB Support has been patchy, in part due to middlemen fouling things up. But when you do get hold of them, they are great and have replaced stuff readily.

      Obviously a company growing faster than they expected to.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Planet's after sales support is, unfortunately, very poor. It's not for want of trying but they are just not set up for it.

      I have one of the early Gemini's and had to replace the keymat because the spacebar wasn't reliable. Unfortunately a couple of the keys were damaged during the replacement, which you have to do yourself. I prefer to have a German keyboard and have been waiting for one since July. I was due to be sent a set UK keys but looks like I was sent US instead: nothing comes with a delivery note.

      I couldn't do the recent OTA upgrade so had to do another manaul flash. Everything is usable and a friend of mine is using the Gemini as his main device. Like others, the hinge on mine is working loose. I suspect that a normal company would have simply replaced the device by now as the first batch was know to have problems.

      I can understand why they want to push on with new models, but I think they will fail if they do not improve support significantly. The people I know who need devices like these won't mind spending a bit more for reliability.

    3. AnonymousCustard

      Depends on what you mean by after sales support.

      The very first few off the lines had a worse keyboard than the follow-ons - they offered a replacement membrane to all first generation owners for nothing - actually shipped 2 of them for free when they were asked for one.

      I managed to do something stupid to my keyboard - they shipped an entire new keybard assembly to me to pull the replacement keys I needed from - free of charge.

      Their software support has been... more or less as you would expect for a company of (at the time) 4 people. There have been 2 firmware updates for the thing now, and the first one was a bit buggy, the later one was better.

      Anybody who had been expecting a "Free as in orgy" ability to install Linux has been disappointed - this is probably less Planet's cause than Mediatek as Mediatek won't open the blobs needed to complile a modern kernel - there's a "it works if you squint" Debian install available, but it's far from fully fit for purpose.

      They have developed a few custom apps which will be quite nice when they're finished - their Agenda takes the look and feel of the old EPOC Agenda app and uses an Android calendar backend - if it worked reliably it'd be great - suspect their developers are working on this. Their "LEDison" app for the notification LEDs is actually quite cute.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        I managed to do something stupid to my keyboard - they shipped an entire new keybard assembly to me to pull the replacement keys I needed from - free of charge.

        Not sure why you think that making the user do this is good, I just think it's an invitation for them to break it. In any case, nearly 4 months later I'm still waiting for replacement keycapps in the layout of the phone I ordered. Currently, I can't even install the Gemini Keyboard app from the Play Store. I supplied a logcat report two weeks ago…

  6. Avatar of They
    Thumb Up

    Looking good for planet computers.

    It isn't looking like a one hit wonder which is good all round.

    Waiting for Christmas for my Gemini. (Won't need the communicator me thinks.)

  7. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Very interesting device

    Will certainly give this a close inspection when it arrives

  8. steelpillow Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Cosmic

    Had my Gemini for a while and coming to depend on it more and more. I use it as my main phone too, and to be fair it is a bit clunky when it comes to things like keying-in helpline options. But I don't phone often, so it doen's matter to me that much.

    Would probably still go for the Cosmo (Why drop the S from Cosmos, for heaven's sake?) if I had the choice, as long as the external camera actually delivers under low-light conditions.

  9. DarkwavePunk

    I was a backer for the Gemini. Fortunately in the 2nd 1000 batch so dodged some of the original teething problems. I use it every day. The keyboard has it's niggles (especially the space bar) but after typing a lot on it you get used to things.

    This new toy looks like a major jump forward in so many ways. Don't think I'll be a backer this time around but will certainly be interested when it becomes generally available and has been reviewed to death.

  10. DropBear Silver badge

    No matter how much I may want one, there's no way I can justify spending the price. There's also a small issue: the keyboard does look lovely, but frankly I would any day prefer a less magnificent one that doesn't make it pretty much impossible to use the phone as a, you know, touch-based smartphone whenever typing is not involved. And please don't tell me you're supposed to take pictures* with it in the "open" position...

    * whereas "pictures" is emphatically NOT defined as "selfies"

  11. steelpillow Silver badge
    Go

    Funded!

    The Indiegogo launch has already reached its funding target!

    Whoooo!

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Funded!

      "Funded!

      The Indiegogo launch has already reached its funding target!

      Whoooo!"

      They are going to need more than $200K. Low-pitched crowdfunder numbers designed to make the target look more achievable. But don't worry, they will go into the millions easily.

  12. Slions

    I'll say it one more time...

    What's wrong with slider? Only one screen needed. Just give us an updated Nokia E7. Make it larger, give it a fingerprint reader, dual sim, sdcard and you are done.

    Why insist on that pseudo touch typing keyboard format?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: I'll say it one more time...

      The hinge means you can and do use it on a flat surface. Very different experience to using a slider.

      1. Slions

        Re: I'll say it one more time...

        A properly designed slider phone can also be used on a flat surface and while holding it in landscape mode using thumbs to type and crucially while closed in portrait mode thus providing good user experience even for those silly apps lacking landscape support.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: I'll say it one more time...

          The clamshell closing compresses the key travel a bit to make it slimmer whilst allowing better key travel and typing experience. Also protects the main screen.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: I'll say it one more time...

          A properly designed slider phone…

          … is harder than you think. You have to get a lot of things right like the weight distribution and mechanical and electrical stability.

          The Gemini isn't suitable for one-handed use except maybe just to answer calls. But the hinge does make it a very portable little notebook and feels "right" with the Gemini, albeit if the hinge does work loose.

          Still, you should really be discussing this with Martin Riddiford who can probably explain why they've done it this way, or at least why they didn't go with the a slider.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: I'll say it one more time...

      +1 for a slider; it's the best of all worlds. It lets me use the main screen at all times and it lets me use the keyboard held in hand (which is 100% of how I ever need to type on the phone - if I'm sitting at a table, there's already either a proper computer or a beer in front of me, neither case having any use for a table-bound communicator). Even a full-dual-screen "folder" would be less convenient than a slider because I really don't feel like randomly swapping between the two screens whenever I need to enter a few words, whereas I could just slide out a slider with one flick...

    3. Adam Hammerton

      Re: I'll say it one more time...

      There is hope for an E7esque handset - https://twitter.com/chenliangchen

      1. Slions

        Re: I'll say it one more time...

        Yes, I can't wait for Livermorium to deliver. Thanks for the link to Chen's twitter page, I did not realised he was posting updates there, until now.

    4. LordHighFixer

      Re: I'll say it one more time...

      I always thought the last version of the Sharp switchblade phone (AKA, Sidekick) was cool. Still have mine, too bad no data service any longer, or I would be using it..

  13. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    If they make a less storage one I'd definitely get one. If that reduces ram though I'd get the full thing - but after it's released and there's a Sailfish X version for it.

  14. theOtherJT

    I wanted a Gemini, I want one of these...

    I'd even be prepared to pay the 425 quid for it at the crowdfunding price. Unfortunately after all the early production issues there were with the Gemini, I'm not sure I feel comfortable risking it, and the "final sales price" is just too high for me at the moment :(

  15. Jemma Silver badge

    I'm interested but for heavens sake why do we need 6gb of RAM and a server grade multicore processor? 3gb & a quad core or even 2gb - that's what I'm using constantly & it isn't slow, doesn't lag (except first load of a large app)? I can't find any sensible reason for 8 plus core processors when you're driving a small screen and a supposedly "mobile" OS and doing precisely (albeit at higher resolution) what I was doing on a dual core 220mhz phone a few years ago. I still do the same thing on an almost identically sized device so why'd I need 15x the processing power. Oh yes, now I remember, lazy crappy programming by "agile" fetishists whose only interest in minimising resource & energy use is how far away the Doritos should be. Do I sound bitter? I want to sound bitter.

    I had an E70, 9300, E7 and I think the predecessor to the 9300.. I want to say 9500? And they were brilliant (except the USB on the E7 & the lack of WiFi on the 9300 (thanks a bunch Nokia)). Now Im stuck with touchscreens and USB OTG - and the irony? If you open out a 9300 or 9500 flat - or even an E7 they're still smaller than iCretin devices with much better functionality and ease of use. The E7 had USB OTG - the N8 a built-in fm transmitter..

    I'm tempted, but I'm not very happy paying for 3 times what I need hardware wise which will be effectively what I'm doing. If they bring out a cheaper version then maybe - but as others have said - its wait and see until we know this isn't going to be a vapourware experience.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      I'm interested but for heavens sake why do we need 6gb of RAM and a server grade multicore processor?

      Hardly a server core but the article does cover some of the reasons that more oomph makes sense for this device, not least to manage all those radios. These CPUs are not "server grade" and the screen isn't small: it's high res so there are a lot of pixels to push around. Android might not be the most efficient OS out there but that's not stopped it becoming the most popular and juggling all thoses resources in real time is never as easy as it seems.

      1. Jemma Silver badge

        But that's the point it doesn't. My current phone has 2/3/4g, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS transceiver, and a hotknot transceiver (sounds like something my ex would be in to but actually a sort of NFC).

        It has a screen not much bigger than the E7 - although of higher resolution.

        It has a 4500mah battery that left on the side will give you 7 days of standby on a quad core processor. It's speed is perfectly acceptable even when running a vpn and a multitude of apps. The processor is an mt6735, which is to phone CPUS what the stovebolt-6 is to high performance engine design *and it is *still* entirely satisfactory* but more to the point I've never managed to run an app yet that maxes it out to the point I'm uncomfortable using it (ie I'm overstressing it).

        The problem isn't the radios or the screen it's the annoying lazy scriptkiddies who think that just because you've got a RAM space of 6gb, their WiFi sniffer app should be using 60% of it. It's like the old BOFH episode... Which went something like.

        Amateur Scriptcretin "Oh that? That's just a little script I wrote to ping the network printers. For fun..."

        BOFH : "For fun. Pinging every single printer on MY network once a second - every second and then re-pinging them because they're set NOT to respond to pings - in perpetuity... Because network bandwidth is unlimited. But then, I *like* fun too - I love nice long walks in the forest at night "with a shovel, some quicklime, and thou".

        NASA got to the moon using computers that would be embarrassed by a scientific calculator. Modern coders can't get the equivalent of a small supercomputer to run frigging Candy Crush. If you consider that progress I think you're reading the wrong woodcut.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          The problem isn't the radios or the screen it's the annoying lazy scriptkiddies who think that just because you've got a RAM space of 6gb,

          Modern browsers will happily grab a couple of GB because of the work they have to do with modern websites. Then there is the VM-based architecture of the platform which is supposed to prevent rogue apps bringing everything else down or stealing data.

          Yes, there are still apps out which use far more resources than necessary but it's also time to stop fighting the battles of the 1990s. More cores and more RAM, with the correct power management makes sense.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      They royally fucked up their market assumptions I think; the age group that still has any interest in a communicator-style device is the one that remembers having seen / used it - except the same age group is the one that sees no particular value in over-the-top performance, especially if it comes at a premium price. Leaving the other problems I have with the device aside, I'd be much happier with a fraction of its specs if it would also mean half the price. FFS, flagships are dead even in mainstream, and low/middle class phones are the ones that own the market! They are _not_ Apple!

    3. dajames Silver badge

      I can't find any sensible reason for 8 plus core processors when you're driving a small screen and a supposedly "mobile" OS...

      Part of the point, of course, is that you are not limited to the supposedly "mobile" Android OS, but can use Sailfish (which is also "mobile") or Linux, or whatever else you can build for it ...

      ... as long as you can get the information you need to write drivers for all the hardware in the thing, that is. At least with Linux you may be able to use the Android drivers even if some of them are only supplied as binaries.

  16. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    Linux

    Still waiting for the promised Linux on the previous product. Did I miss something, or has that been abandoned?

    1. Dave559 Bronze badge

      Re: Linux

      Information about installing Linux was (somewhat quietly) added to the support website:

      https://support.planetcom.co.uk/index.php/Linux_Flashing_Guide

      (and see also: https://developer.planetcom.co.uk/)

      As it is a little bit of a fiddly process to reflash/install, I think that quite a few people are still waiting for others to have a go first(!), and I think that Planet Computers are more hoping that the user community will take up the baton for managing Linux for the Gemini.

      I understand that, unfortunately, the chipset in the Gemini isn't the most Linux-friendly, which doesn't help matters much, but at least it showed that it was possible, if not ideal.

      I do very much hope that Planet have taken this consideration on board for future devices, and that they have taken great care to choose the hardware for the Cosmo very carefully, to avoid any similar compatibility problems occurring again.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Linux

      It's not been abandoned but, given how dependent it is upon the largesse of Mediatek in providing drivers, I wouldn't hold my breath. It's far more important that they manage to release regulat security patches and updates for Android first before they spend resources on other OSes. Two security updates (June and October) since launch isn't impressive.

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Linux

      Still waiting for the promised Linux on the previous product. Did I miss something, or has that been abandoned?

      What are you waiting for exactly? Somebody from Planet Computers to come to your house and install it for you?

      1. Phil Endecott Silver badge

        Re: Linux

        > What are you waiting for exactly?

        Back in Feb 2017, Andrew Orlowski wrote: “Gemini will be dual platform with Linux and Android supported”. What seems to have actually been delivered is an Android device, with some second-rate unsupported Linux of the kind we get on “hacker board” devices, i.e. out-of-tree drivers that need old kernel versions, have bugs, and don’t support everything. As Dave559 wrote above, “the chipset in the Gemini isn't the most Linux-friendly”.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Linux

          Andrew Orlowski is not Planet Computers and cannot make promises on their behalf.

          Planet only offered :

          Designed for Android, it also features a dual boot Linux option

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Linux

          As Dave559 wrote above, “the chipset in the Gemini isn't the most Linux-friendly”.

          This was obvious from the word go but didn't stop Linux fanbois moaning. I don't really see why people need more than a good SSH client and Juice is fine for that. But basically only Mediatek can make their chips suitable for Linux. Planet must concentrate more on supporting Android properly or working with vendors to get things like Sailfish OS running well. Even I personally don't use it as such, the Gemini is essentially a phone and if you want a palmtop running Linux you should be looking elsewhere.

  17. DJO Silver badge

    Me cynical?

    I'm trying not to be but once the 500 early backer limit was reached they extended it to 750, so perhaps there's less urgency than first seemed.

  18. smapmap

    Aftersales has been excellent - very responsive. I was one of the early backers - had an issue with my Gemini and they sent me a replacement with no quibbles. Really good.

  19. Jemma Silver badge

    Or you could...

    Get your hands on a NOS late model Toshiba Libretto and slap Android x86 on it and buy a 3G dongle if you need one. For about a quarter the price..

    Watching a geek squee over his new Gemini - free

    Seeing the look on his face when you show him the same functionality on something that was designed while he was in nappies and cost you £100?

    Priceless.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Or you could...

      The last decade called and would like their "3G dongle" back.

  20. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    Does this have a keypad on the front? It should.

    I miss my 9210i, despite feeling like a badly designed and largely ineffectual baton to fend off muggers with, it was a bloody useful all in one portable office at a time when nothing else came close in terms of size... maybe the success of this will prompt Nokia to create a new Communicator.

  21. 0laf Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I thought the Gemini looked a bit rough round the edges. This looks much nicer. I've no need for a device of this form factor but I still want one. I can see a use for these in the business though. I hope they play nice with enterprise applications and MDM solutions

  22. Simon Rockman

    Go for it

    I've an early Gemini (I was something like funder 37), and it's been sterling. I don't even have keyboard mat problems. The audio isn't great for calls but it's more than paid for itself in the work I've done on the tube.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    hope linux runs well on it

    ordered one, but not planning to run android on it :) really hope it will run linux well!

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