[][]                    [][][][][][][][]
[][][][][][]      [][]                    [][][][][][][][]
[][][][][][]      [][][][][][]    [][]    [][]        [][]
[][]    [][]      [][][][][][]    [][]    [][]        [][]      [][][][][][][][][][]
[][]    [][]              [][]    [][]    [][]        [][]      [][][][][][][][][][]
[][][][][][]              [][]    [][]    [][]        [][]      [][]            [][]
[][]              [][][][][][]    [][]    [][][][][][][][]      [][]            [][]
[][]              [][][][][][]    [][]    [][][][][][][][]      [][]            [][]


Psion Series 3a

A *huge* thanks to Joe ([email protected]) to sending an immaculate Psion 3a to thinker around and learn with!!!

It becomes immediately evident that this is a very, very well made device.  The hinge feels solid when it opens and closes and the shell is sturdy and has that early 90's 'marbling' effect that was present in a number of 1990's technology.  The doors on the underside for the proprietary solid state disks don't feel chincy or loose by any means, which is quite a testament since it's almost 30 years old at this point.  I messed around typing out various things on the included word processor, making spreadsheets, adding contacts to the address book, setting alarms in the agenda application and basking in the novelty that is having the little speaker dial analog phone numbers.  One of the most impressive aspects is the voice recorder - it's pretty clear playback with all the "testing" I performed.  ("Testing" == sitting it on the coffee table and speaking funny phrases into the onboard mic.  Highly scientific.)  The little Pison that could is still running off the 2 "AA" batteries it arrived with.  The estimate
is that it will last a month off a set of batteries.  It's very apparent why these were so prevalent and popular durying their heyday.  I get the distinct impression the 'sync' capability, while there, wasn't as necessary as it was with, say, a Palm device.  It seems like other than documents, spreadsheets and externally added apps, most other data (calendar, contacts, memos, etc.) was intended to be sort of a closed loop; something you carried and updated as appointments and contacts were added and rolled off. Next up is getting PsiWin (or something equivalent) to work for adding 3rd party applications...probably in a follow up post.  Additionally, learning some of the development options also looks pretty interesting.  Some appear to be script-based and some are C derivatives.  I can only imagine the instanely useful tools enterprising Psion owners whipped up.

If the idea of how carrying a Psion-like device sounds appealing but no wifi or cell connectivity is a dealbreaker, fret not - Planet Computers created a spiritual successor, the Gemini.  The pedigree is definitely there, the clamshell form factor, the keyboard and screen setup, it's built well and feels solid.  The keyboard is great and the screen is very nice, with the added bonus of not having to worry about it getting dinged up while it's in a bag or a pocket.  The Gemini also has a SIM card slot to let it operate like a full fledged phone; it's sort of like living in an alternate future where the Psion never died out and evolved into a smartphone.