Psion Series 5mx Review

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★★★★☆
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austinbarry's review of Psion Series 5mx

★★★★☆

“Although it (was) sold as a souped up PDA, the Psion...”

Written on: 31/10/2008 by austinbarry (3 reviews written)

Good Points
Has a real keyboard you can type on.
Fits in a (large) pocket.
Back-lit screen (but no reflector behind display).
Touch sensitive screen.
Always running (in sleep mode). Instant on when you open the cover.
Windows connectivity (a little awkward but workable).
Comes with the basics (word, spreadsheet, terminal, calendar, alarm clock, email, graphics, address book, database, a card-file app called jotter, web browser, etc).
Programmable (in its own programming language, or Java).
Many share-ware and freeware programs.
Takes CF cards for additional storage.
Built in infrared connection (should you have another Psion or suitable phone).
Excellent battery life (I replace the batteries every few months - like a smoke detector).
Great "wow" factor - even today.

Bad Points
NO LONGER MANUFACTURED. I got mine from Ebay, while there were still many units available. Many of the ones sold today are either duds or overpriced antiques.
The connection between the display and the keyboard is prone to failure. It hasn't happened to me yet, but the fear factor means that It wouldn't be the only place I'd keep critical information.
Finding software is increasingly difficult, however nothing really dies on the internet.
Has individual machine serial number, which is used to create a custom key to unlock shareware which makes buying shareware a two-step process. Since very few companies making software for the Psion are in business, this means some shareware can't be unlocked even if the developers decided to give it away.
No USB. No WiFi. No color display. Doesn't play MP3's. Doesn't take or edit photos. Definitely from another era.

General Comments
Although it (was) sold as a souped up PDA, the Psion is more like a miniature laptop. I have yet to see a PDA that can make this claim. The main factor is a keyboard that one can (with a little practice) touch-type on. I have written multi-page documents on my Psion. The word processor is a clone of Ms Word, and can read or write real Word documents (that is what the Windows software is for). The spreadsheet can read and write (simple) Ms Excel documents and the address book and calendar can sync up with Ms Outlook. The email and web browser are of limited use as they require a modem (but one can store static web pages). One can also run an early version of TomeRaider and store entire encyclopedias on the Psion. I've taken my Psion around the world, and it's the only "laptop" I travel with. Although it is by no stretch of the imagination suited to graphics, it will display photos (in black and white) and one can create "pen and ink" drawings which could be incorporated into word documents (good for maps, diagrams, or writing words in a foreign alphabet).

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