My plastic brain is growing old

Last week, my PDA gave up in the middle of a sentence. It just froze. The LED stopped blinking and remained ON. The touch screen didn’t react, the keyboard didn’t either. Not even a hard reset could revive it. It can now be used as a door stop, if only it were bigger and heavier.

Since my experience so far tells me that I am not ready for a Windows-based PDA, I am going to have my trusty old Psion repaired. Again. Again. I just don’t see that there is any product in the market today that can be a serious replacement for the Psion Series 5:

  • Three weeks battery life.
  • Laptop-like quality keyboard that can actually fit six if not ten fingers.
  • Decent applications that don’t crash – ever.

Can you recommend anything like that?

Update 20080401: I had the unit repaired (again) because there really is no good replacement.

6 Responses to “My plastic brain is growing old”


  • Palm Treo? Nokia E61?

    They don’t make e’m like they used to. I recently did a tour of the local mobile sellers to buy ‘a phone with a week’s worth of operating time’, with zero other requirements — and I drew a blank all over. One even admitted that that kind of performance belongs to the past(!).

    I say get your Psion revived. Again and again.

  • Motorola Razr V3 supposedly has ten days battery life — Tom frequently forgot to recharge his because charging was needed so rarely. It’s no help though because the Razr is just a phone, not a PDA. (Apparently the Razr is the best hardware in the industry but it is limited by mediocre software/firmware.)

  • So does this mean that Plastic Brain development has stopped? I’ve been watching the site for progress and nothing has been added for months. The idea seems good though, so I’d hate to see it stopped now.

  • Hi Mike! We are two people blogging here. If you refer to Jan’s project described on http://gtd.g-b.dk then no, that is not dead. I’ll have him post an update!

    In the above blog post, I was describing my PDA which is not a Palm. I should tell Jan that his use of the term “plastic brain” leads to confusion because he and I use it for two different units with different purposes.

  • I went through several PDAs trying to find the perfect one, and there are really few that meet my needs. Based on reading your site on and off over the years, I have a few thoughts/suggestions:

    Palm OS – If you are interested in a Palm device (which has decent third-party software and rarely has issues), you could find an older AlphaSmart Dana device probably on eBay (newer ones use a different proprietary OS). Uses standard batteries, but the device is quite large. No multitasking, though.

    Series 60/80 – The Nokia Communicator line is not really like a Psion, but is decent. The models prior to the E90 were Series 80, but the new E90 uses the S60 OS, so no touch screen. However, it’s fairly usable, but battery life isn’t as good. Still not too bad, and they keyboard is decent. More detailed reviews of it are on the All About Symbian site. The native PIM apps are limited, but if you install something like Papyrus, it’s decent.

    BlackBerry – You can use a BlackBerry as a non-phone device. If you turn off the cellular radio, you get amazingly long battery life. Even with it on with push email, etc., I can get 3-4 days out of it. With cellular off, it’s much longer. The built-in PIM apps are passable, and more 3rd-party software comes all the time. VERY stable and GREAT multitasking. If you buy one unlocked (not through a carrier), you don’t have to activate the data plan, though I really enjoy having my data backed up immediately online without syncing to a computer. These also work with Bluetooth keyboards, in case you want a better typing experience than the thumbboard.

    Hope that helps. Feel free to email me personally if you’d like to discuss in more detail! I’ve also used Symbian UIQ, Danger’s Hiptop OS, Pocket PC/Windows Mobile and more.

  • I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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