I am a very happy user of a Psion Series 5mx. That’s a PDA (and if you needed that explanation, then the rest of this post is probably not interesting to you). What follows is a little rant about the lack of modern alternatives which I wrote in response to an email. I thought it was worth blogging, so here it is, only slightly revised for this context:
My Psion is getting old. Not that there is anything wrong with it; it keeps on going like a Duracell bunny. But in comparison with modern electronics, it is somewhat on the bulky side, and it lacks modern communication like WLAN, Bluetooth, and cell phone. So I have been looking for alternatives, actually for years now.
There are many, many devices “out there”, but none of them are really what I am looking for. No device on the market today is exactly like the Psions; they really were a league of their own. In fact, I have come to the decision that I will keep using my Psion Series 5mx for as long as it works, and when it breaks down, I will have it repaired.
The only thing definitely lacking in the Psion (meaning the only other device I also always carry) is a cell phone, so I’ve been looking at various “smartphones” like the Nokia 9300i or the Qtec 9000 — but not even these ultimate smartphone flagships are good enough. The Nokia doesn’t have a touch screen (can you imagine!!), and the Qtec is too slow because it uses Windows Mobile. Neither have the battery power of the Psions because they are filled with color screens and a lot of other stuff that uses a lot of power, so you’d be hard pressed to be without a power supply for more than two days.
So, smartphones are out of the question. What else is there? There are some microscopically small but real laptops. They are a nice idea, but not really practical. The screen is high-resolution but only a few inches big, making for text that requires a looking-glass to read. And they are still real computers, in the negative way that you have to bother about Windows, updates, installing applications, drivers, and so on. And besides being heavy and having a short battery time, they are also horribly expensive.
Alternatives? Ye goode olde PDA-style devices like Palm and Windows Mobile PDAs from Dell and all the other pc brands. None have “weeks” of battery time, but at least they have the proper “on the road” software and nothing too bloated. But just as it has always been, nothing beats a Psion. Everything else assumes that you also have a pc so this PDA is just a companion, not a “stand-alone” device which I am used to and looking for.
The short answer is no. Not even in 2006 is there anything better than a Psion Series 5mx.
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