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Help MobilityGuru Redesign Psion's Iconic, Ultrasmall 5mx

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October 5, 2006 10:41:43 AM

After looking at the Psion 5mx of the late 1990s, we begin designing a modern version of the highly ergonomic and most iconic back-pocket sized clamshell computer ever. We haven't answered every design question and hope you can help us get everything right.
October 5, 2006 11:44:38 AM

Quote:
After looking at the Psion 5mx of the late 1990s, we begin designing a modern version of the highly ergonomic and most iconic back-pocket sized clamshell computer ever. We haven't answered every design question and hope you can help us get everything right.



Was a Psion fan during my Uni days.
At that time i switched from Apple Newton, then moved onto Psion.
I still think Psion could have done so much more.
I belive there is still a market for people who needs simple machines for business. WinCE sucks crap.

Several thing definately need to note when designing the next Psion.
1. Psion's 5 series Keyboard rocks. <<-- Don't even think about changing any desing, mechanism or material cost factored into this. It made the user experience non the less 'extremely unique'.

2. Gotta be thin and 'slanted' down.

3. Solid State disk gotta be used. No hard drive please. I think 30G is enough for XP as a default selection. Maybe 60G for the deep pockets.

4. SD Slot is enough. No need CF, even laptops don't have it. It's just going to take up space. Why put such thing in a cramped environment such as this???

5. USB port needed~!!!

6. Need Ear/Mic phone jacks for music.

7. Would be nice to add a Video Camera - Maybe next model generation you can add it in.

8. Use the best batter available to make it thin.
Make the battery last long as possible. Don't try to make money on 'Extended Battery' crap. For these kind of products people will tend to buy an immediate second if the price is good. Each batter making the device last 3~4 hours is very very adaquete.

9. Yes no need Wired LAN but Wireless must be built-in. What age do u guys live in man? a/b/g gotta be standard~!!! at least to b profile~~~
Would be nice if it's EVDO or 3G+ rather.

10. Don't lose the grey blackiness of the Psion 5mx concept.
The First User Market will be the loyal ones, like me, to buy the darn thing.And if you make it toooooo different, it's not gonna be attractive.


I think if price point is USD 1399. I'd buy it if the above it done as it says.
That SSD is gonna be tricky in your cost design but tell you what if you really manage to design this even with a 20 GB SSD, at USD 1500, I'd buy it without second thoughts.

Sillycon Out~~~~
October 5, 2006 12:57:30 PM

I'd go the opposite way to sillycon.

I think that the true successor to a Psion 5mx would be a PocketPC 2005 device, with a Samsung 400MHz or XScale 624MHz processor, maybe half a gig of RAM, 128Mb program ROM.

It should have the Psion's keyboard - maybe remade with modern materials.

I'd be interested in a twist-clamshell design - so you could flip the screen round and use it as a normal PocketPC PDA, much like some of the hybrid Tablet PCs which were around.

Doesn't really need a hard disk, doesn't need ridiculous amounts of solid state, although something like a built-in CF microdrive might be useful - maybe a 4gb one.

Definitely needs a SD and a CF slot.

Should have a graphics accelerator (maybe the Intel 2700G), and a half VGA screen (like the 5mx - 640x240) - or possibly a half SVGA (800x300 or 1024x384) - 64k colours, of course...

Wireless would be required - b/g and Bluetooth. Maybe a if the price is ok.

Headphone and microphone sockets would also be good.

Don't know about having a phone built-in. I think with the Bluetooth it might be worth not bothering - it just adds cost and reduces battery life.

Price point? About £450 - £500 - the 5mx was launched at £430, but that was a few years ago!
Related resources
October 5, 2006 12:58:22 PM

For the hardware side, this should do:

1. An AMD Turion Processor with very low consumption. Preferably underclock it to 1GHz or lower
2. A nVidia nForce 430 chipset. The on-board GeForce 6150 should be enough to process the common video codecs, eg: Xvid, H.264, DVD without loading the processor too much, and should be good enough for light gameplays.
3. DDR2 512MB BGA worth of system RAM soldered on the PCB, and a memory slot for upgrade if possible. For this case, you would not really need too much RAM to do stuffs like office application. 1GB is too much for this case.
4. 800 by 480 touchscreen OLCD (Organic LCD) screen. Saves on battery life, thinner than LCD and better on clarity. Dont bother going for more than 800 by 480, as you will strain your eyes for nothing.
5. Keyboard with trackpoint. I am a user of trackpoint mouse, cos i own a IBM laptop, and personally i like it.
6. A stylus. Needless to say
7. A LiPo (Lithium Polymer) battery on top of the OLCD screen. The space saved after switching from LCD to OLCD can be used to install a LiPo battery. That should be enough to store about 2 to 3 amp worth of power.
8. A 8GB or 16GB flash as a storage medium on-board, Although i will go for 16GB. They are quite cheap compared to SSD, and are physically smaller than those 2.5' or 1.8' SSDs.


These should make for a really nice combination. The PCB size will be about 2/3 to 3/4 of the psion, and the remaining space can be used for battery, to extend the battery life. As for the price, it will be about the same or cheaper than an UMPC, while giving a peformance edge on video processing due to its GeForce 6150. How nice will it be when you show someone a Psion that peforms better than a conventional UMPC, yet smaller than it?
October 5, 2006 1:53:18 PM

Quote:
For the hardware side, this should do:

1. An AMD Turion Processor with very low consumption. Preferably underclock it to 1GHz or lower
2. A nVidia nForce 430 chipset. The on-board GeForce 6150 should be enough to process the common video codecs, eg: Xvid, H.264, DVD without loading the processor too much, and should be good enough for light gameplays.

... etc.


We should water cool it too. Add some underside neons. Bitchin'.
October 5, 2006 2:13:14 PM

how about just specing it with via cpu or even a cell processer like the psp (i think) running xp with at least gsm and a micro progecter
October 5, 2006 3:54:10 PM

Wow, how interesting (from one hardware developer who actually seriously started to think about doing my own upgrade of my Series 5 this summer)!

I guess, my take on this is actually using a much lower spec'd CPU than most of you, since I really liked the fact that I didn't have to charge the unit once every night.

Therefore; os: UcLinux. CPU; Coldfire 5329, CF + WLan + USB. 640 or prefferably 800 by 300 or some such. (This is the showstopper for my own project, since this has to be by special design) TFT LED backlit/transflective.

The existing housing is, to my mind already perfect. Leave as is.

P.S. As soon as I can find a nice display, I'll buy every used Series 5 out there! :lol: 
October 5, 2006 4:18:54 PM

I still have my old 5mx tucked away in a box. I could never bring myself to get rid of it because it was such a marvellous piece of technology. The problem for me is that it wasn't just the hardware that made it so good. The software was equally as important. I don't care what components you can squeeze into the design if it ends up running Windows Mobile then you can keep it. The old Psion software was simple, incredibly easy to use and reliable. Like most WM5 users I have to reset my device on a regular basis, I only every remember resetting my Psion once.

I'm not trying to get lost in some nostalgia trip here as the Psion OS has more than been left behind but if you want to truly resurrect and modernise the 5mx then more effort should be spent on the software than the hardware.

Am I alone in thinking that just about every fancy gadget you buy these days is let down by shoddy, last minute, under budgeted software? The bean counters at most large companies still don't know how to price up good software. They know that a widget cost X and can be sold for Y but when it comes to software they are clueless and generally don't budget for it at all.
October 5, 2006 4:41:22 PM

It seems to me that some form of linux would be a better fit than a windows variant, having seen how many apps are available for free on the nokia770.

If this thing had a 1024x600 or more it would be amazingly unbeatable.

Wifi must be built in at this stage in the game for something like this to be useful, since it would more than likely be used as a mobile communication device for email, messaging and scheduling (among other things).

The more you can pack in the better, since you could in theory always offer a version with less HD/flash memory space and memory at a reduced price.

As to the HD/flash argument, I think that HD's are just plain less expensive than flash, however flash takes up much less space and is more suited to a mobile device like this and can be easily upgraded, and is therefore perhaps better since the price for 32gigs of flash memory will come time over time.
October 5, 2006 4:48:48 PM

I suggest taking a poll ad listing all the variable of what people would want in the Psion. List everything.

Psion has the best Form factor. I have a Stowaway Blue tooth Keyboard that is nice but not as nice as the psion's.

I would like ot know why the compnay stopped making or improving there product.

What I would like.
1. touchscreen, stylus, keyboard
2. a little higher res than 800 by 600
3. 2 USB (not one)
4. SD card (not CF)
5. 16 gb solid state (no harddrive)
6. magnesium case (not Plastic)
7. WIFI is a must g (not B) maybe N is feasible
8. AMD Turion Chip
9. maybe a mini DVD disk in back like the PSP 2's new UMD design
10 Win XP
11. Strong battery

Sony gives a lot in its psp for 200 dollars so this can be done and sell millions of them.


Cheers, No where is this dream machine
October 5, 2006 5:42:25 PM

I recently had a Sharp Zaurus C860, which was pretty good, but not as nice as the Psion 5 I remember so dearly! I've often though about designing a modern version of the 5MX, if I had a spare few million, I'd probably give it a go.

I'd personally rather the revised 5MX be a top end PDA, not a mini X86 laptop, as there's already the OQO or Sony UX50 & others in that space (Although those in the 5MX form factor would be cool too).

Due mainly to cost & battery life, I've put down a spec that is like an updated Zaurus (As that's the current top end Psion 5 esque device), but would be in the Psion 5 form factor.

<B>Form factor:</B> Possibly exactly the same as the 5MX, but it might be cool to be able to fit it in your pocket. The 5MX style and design is great, but maybe scaled down to be more like Zaurus, or even HX4700 + keyboard size.

<B>Screen:</B> 800x480 (as in the Nokia 770) Higher res if feasible (LCD, not OLED, due to price & performance in sunlight), just for fun, what about dual 2.6" VGA screens (Total 1280 * 480)?

<B>Keyboard:</B> As Psion 5mx, but opdated so it doesent stick when you hit the side of a key... used to really annoy me! Zaurus keyboard did not feel as nice, but was more accurate than 5MX.

<B>OS:</B> Linux based option (Something better than Q-topia, may have to develop the OS + optimise some essential programs for use on the hardware). Maybe just Windows mobile if this is not feasible.

<B>Software:</B> If possible, run Open Office (Not sure if it's possible to optimise it to run fast on an Xscale or whatever?). PIM software must synchronise seamlessly with PC/Mac/Linux PIM software. If linux, Firefox & Thunderbird will be easy.

<B>Processor:</B> Latest Xscale processor, or maybe a TI one, whichever performs best & is most energy efficient with a good price. Dunno what AMD Alchemy's are like for PDA's, or if they still exist?

<B>Storage:</B> CF & SDIO slot (Or Dual CF?), plus possibly an internal CF slot so that people can choose what internal storage to have, don't pay for it if you don't want it & upgrade it when a bigger CF card comes out.

<B>Battery:</B> Loved being able to pop into a shop & get some AA's when the battery was on the way out, so keep this functionality, but also have Li-ion/pol battery pack that can fit in the same space as 2 AA's.

<B>Comms:</B> Wi-fi, Bluetooth, maybe IRDA.

<B>Sound:</B> Mic, Speaker, Headphone socket + external Mic input.

<B>GFX acceleration:</B>Maybe Intel 2700G, or why not NVDIA G80 + rucksack with water cooling setup, big fat radiator & 2 car batteries?

Well, those are some of my Ideas, I don't know exactly what's feasible, but I think it would be great if a device similar to this became available at some point.
October 5, 2006 5:43:34 PM

As far as I am concerned, the Nokia 770 is roughly what I need. I'd like a better CPU (and probably more RAM), but that's not fondamental. What is truly most important to me is that you can get rid of Win CE or whatever the OS is and install either Linux or any BSD.

Only request: fully supported under either *BSD or Linux.
October 5, 2006 5:44:56 PM

Quote:
Wow, how interesting (from one hardware developer who actually seriously started to think about doing my own upgrade of my Series 5 this summer)!

I guess, my take on this is actually using a much lower spec'd CPU than most of you, since I really liked the fact that I didn't have to charge the unit once every night.

Therefore; os: UcLinux. CPU; Coldfire 5329, CF + WLan + USB. 640 or prefferably 800 by 300 or some such. (This is the showstopper for my own project, since this has to be by special design) TFT LED backlit/transflective.

The existing housing is, to my mind already perfect. Leave as is.

P.S. As soon as I can find a nice display, I'll buy every used Series 5 out there! :lol: 



In a previous job around 2002-ish I purchased a few dozen Intermec 6651 WindowsCE devices:

http://www.pocketpcfaq.com/reviews/intermec6651.htm

They were as perfect a WinCE device as they could make, given the crappiness of WinCE. But they had a stunning TFT 800x480 touch screen that was crisper, brighter, and just gorgeous compared to any laptop screen out there at the time. The keyboard was even sorta ok. It folded back around to make a tablet-style unit. It also had a CF and a PCMCIA slots, I used a wireless card with it to do term services to administer my servers.

If you could find one on eBay or elsewhere there would be a perfect display to frankenstein into your unit.
October 5, 2006 5:52:58 PM

Quote:
As far as I am concerned, the Nokia 770 is roughly what I need. I'd like a better CPU (and probably more RAM), but that's not fondamental. What is truly most important to me is that you can get rid of Win CE or whatever the OS is and install either Linux or any BSD.

Only request: fully supported under either *BSD or Linux.


Yeah, the 770 is pretty cool, but it's performance is bad, it's not got a keyboard, and as you say, it's not simple to change the OS - a choice between windows mobile, Q-topia & other Linux operating systems on the one device would be cool.
October 5, 2006 6:28:30 PM

more than enough PDA's to go around. Dell has just ended RnD on there PDA's. So this market will be dead soon enough. The beauty of the Psion is that it was the closest to a ultra mobile computer when laptop was not even around.
October 5, 2006 9:33:23 PM

While in Culver City I was using that tiny little Gateway notebook. It was small enough for most stuff, I think that shrinking it just a bit farther could get something close to what you're looking for.

1.) 8x4x1 would allow a fairly high pixel width without making you squint too hard, you really need at least 800 pixels wide to see windows menues

2.) 800x400 on an 8x4 inch lid sounds like a plan!

3.) Sliding keyboard is a great idea

4.) Perhaps an AMD Geode processor? Anything more powerfull than a PIII 700 would be great, I like the ULV core solo.

5.) I suggest two scrolling wheels, the second one used to scroll large desktop menues up and down. This could be done with software of course.

6.) These guys know displays! That's good! I had an LED backlit LCD in mind, but hey, if they've got a better idea, I'm all for it.

7.) 10 hours of battery life? 8 would probably do...

I'm not a mobility freak, I just want something small that can handle basic functions. A keyboard that I can use would be a top idea.

Also, I'd like to have a network port because some of the secure networks I've used are very problematic over wireless.
October 5, 2006 11:22:17 PM

All of this is good and done, but how about an S-Video out or just a RCA Video Out. Imagine pulling out a power point presentation or something equally as cool.. I'm not saying 'RUN A DVD'.. more like I can show everyone my desktop if need be.
October 6, 2006 1:09:39 AM

These project is an amazing idea.

1.While reading the replies posted, I noticed that a olt of people wanted an AMD turion inside. I don't think that will be possible since that will kill the battery life. The best option would be either an intel core solo u1200(5.5W) or if possible an intel core duo u2400 which has a little less than twice the power comsumption of the core solo(9W). A choice between 512 and ! gb of ram would be best.

2.As for the graphics, integrated graphics is the only way to go obviously and intel is doing an excellent job in that while keeping the size small. So the latest from intels integrated solutions is the best option.

3.For the screen, touchscreen and the 800x400 propably fits the best on a screen this small. Anything bigger would be hard to see.

4. The hard disk should be a choice between a 1.8" 80,60,30gb hard disks(80gb coming out soon) rather than a SSD drive since that well just raise the price like crazy. I don't know if thats possible, but if it's possible to include a small flash drive only for the operating system to boost bootup(like the vista "ready boot" feature) that would be sweet.

5. An 7-8 hour battery would be perfect.

6. The OS shouldn't be an issue. It can come with windows xp but since it is a pc, everyone can just install any operating system that works on a pc. But a customized linux distro for the Psion 5x would be amazing.

7. Wi-fi should be a must and if possible bluetooth but not nessasry.

8. Built-in mic and a headphone socket. Also a small mono speaker would be nice but not nessasry.

A price range between USD1000-1500 would be amazing and would probably make it the best mobile pc ever. Good luck with these project. :D 
October 6, 2006 2:59:55 AM

Quote:
These project is an amazing idea.

1.While reading the replies posted, I noticed that a olt of people wanted an AMD turion inside. I don't think that will be possible since that will kill the battery life. The best option would be either an intel core solo u1200(5.5W) or if possible an intel core duo u2400 which has a little less power comsumption than the core solo(9W). A choice between 512 and ! gb of ram would be best.


The reason why I chosed AMD Turion Processor is because of nVidia nForce 430. Of cos we all know Intel ULV processors consume very little power, but its video performance in its chipset does not work well.

Unless i have been sleeping for these few month, wat i am aware is that nVidia has not released a chipset with integrated video for Intel ULV processor.

nVidia's nForce 430 is good because of its integrated graphics. Its 6150 graphics is not only able to peform as a low-end gaming machine, it can also do hardware video decoding with Purevideo, eg. Xvid and h.264. My experience tells me that a 640 by 480video encoded in h.264 with subtitle needs AT LEAST a 1GHz AMD athlon processor to at least play back smoothly. Even then the CPU is always running at 90% workload.
With the 430, it can help reduce the workload on the CPU by helping out in the decoding of the video.

Or unless you are the kind which does word processing and the like, for that i can recommend a VIA based CPU/chipset solution.

So unless those ULV processors can have the performance to decode a H.264 video smoothly without stutter, then I will still lean towards Turion/430 combination
October 6, 2006 3:11:24 AM

1. li ion battery a must
2. wireless option a must also and if you could make a deal with sprint to make it surf the net and include voip on it it be totally cool. and do deals like signing up contract so you can get the device cheaper it would be good because people would use it . sprint have deals like if you buy the new palm is like 400 but with a two year contract is 200.
and if you make a device like this people would paymore than 200 witha two year contract.
3. bluetooth it would be good
4. 40 gb its a good amount for a hard drive
5. if you could put an advance chipset for graphics it could atract other type of people like gamers but not some cheap one one that could match graphics like the psp or nintendo DS.
6. if you can also put a peripheral like the cd player of the PSP so you can watch movies on it too.
7.And a camera it would be cool too
October 6, 2006 3:24:10 AM

Heheh, the Gateway mini laptop I was using was so thin, they had to put the battery in the lid hinge. They used a hinge that was cylindrical, as thick as the lid and base together, and put the battery in the center.
October 6, 2006 3:55:35 AM

Quote:

The reason why I chosed AMD Turion Processor is because of nVidia nForce 430. Of cos we all know Intel ULV processors consume very little power, but its video performance in its chipset does not work well.

Unless i have been sleeping for these few month, wat i am aware is that nVidia has not released a chipset with integrated video for Intel ULV processor.

nVidia's nForce 430 is good because of its integrated graphics. Its 6150 graphics is not only able to peform as a low-end gaming machine, it can also do hardware video decoding with Purevideo, eg. Xvid and h.264. My experience tells me that a 640 by 480video encoded in h.264 with subtitle needs AT LEAST a 1GHz AMD athlon processor to at least play back smoothly. Even then the CPU is always running at 90% workload.
With the 430, it can help reduce the workload on the CPU by helping out in the decoding of the video.

Or unless you are the kind which does word processing and the like, for that i can recommend a VIA based CPU/chipset solution.

So unless those ULV processors can have the performance to decode a H.264 video smoothly without stutter, then I will still lean towards Turion/430 combination


Putting that in a mobile pc of the size of the 5mx would be a dream. Basically shoving all that into the 5mx is currently impossible and having a battery that could run that for more than even 3-4 hourswithout deforming the looks of the pc would be a miracle which really defeats the whole purpose of having a ultra small mobile pc. What I was trying to do was suggest something realistic enough to be implemented. Also the intel ulv is more powerful than an 1Ghz AMD. If u noticed i also suggested an intel core duo which runs at 1.66Ghz and only consumes 1.6 times the power of the core solo, I think that would be able to handle any kind of video available right now(i think the core solo could do that as well).
October 6, 2006 3:58:33 AM

I was thinking for abit... and I think the processor chipset graphics selection will be a tough one~!!

I think you can go two directions on this.

One with a bigger display - maybe a slightly over sized version of Psion 5mx.
This put a low voltage, low temperature, low power x86 CPU.
The most the user will be doing is presentation, very normal office work, internet, video music listening.
The user will be just looking at quick mobililty. Someone always on the move but don't need the fancy footwork. Hell I would.
The thing is if the price point is over USD 1300~1500, then it's going to be some niche market or concept showcase like the mini pcs from sony and s/s.


The other is looking in the space of WinCE.
The freaking thing is, I still don't find WinCE all that useful.
It's buggy, can't do much office work... wireless is useless, and all the glorified Microsoft hickups.
These days you can fit WinXP with office and general network configs on less than 5 GB. I think if it had a 10GB SSD would do the trick. And have a SD expansion slot.
Samsung or other memory company will start to roll out CF card sized SSDs, and I bet they can design something on that logic for the Psion.
Question is the CPU. you need a low wattage cpu that is like some all in one chip with audio and video built-in. >> Maybe someone can fill this in.
And the footsize of the cpu gotta be small....

Anyone got some good ideas?

Sillycon - ~~~
October 6, 2006 4:08:03 AM

Good ideas? Make it cheaper. Use a Geode, off the shelf Lithiom Ion batteries, and an SiS chipset. What, you think that sounds crappy? You don't need much for office work.
October 6, 2006 7:32:16 AM

Question 1. Given the extrawide screen format I would use 1280x600.

Question 2. Use entry version core solo absolutely, lowest power of any CPU.

Question 3. 1GB ram can be easily done, soldered onto mb.

Question 4. Use solid state disk storage only - its the least power hungry and can go upto 64GB. Now here's a twist, use 1.8 inch form factor - and make it interchangeable with 1.8 inch HDD!!!

Question 5. Have built-in 802.11 b/g, infrared, bluetooth, and definitely WWAN with sim card holder!

Add a stereo microphone jack for cable mic/line-in audio and install a webcam like Sony ux280.

Possibly add fingerprint scanner.

Question 6. How about 2 rechargeable li-ion batteries in AA form factor, then put a tiny barrel connector on the side of the device for a small external 4xAA battery pack!!!

Question 7. 7.5x3.5x1.0 inch is a good size

Question 8. I would give it an MSRP ~$1800 given the unique nature of the product and its proprietary design.

Other issues: get rid of the two usb ports and use smaller mini usb ports - uses less space on motherboard. Likewise dump the video port and use mini vga port like the Fujitsu P1000.

One big thing you guys forgot:
Design a DOCKING STATION with 2.5 inch hard drive bay, pcmcia slot, more usb ports, firewire port, com port, slim dvd drive bay. Even better, slap on a notebook battery pack on the bottom of your docking station and make the whole show portable!!!
October 6, 2006 7:39:12 AM

I for one would like to see a drive/extra battery carriage that attaches from the bottom. This way you could...

a) swap drives quickly for multiple boot platforms and testing...

b) run without a drive for less power and weight

c) add power hungry upgrades in carriage. (3d chip, camera, sata port, high power wi-fi)

c) possible stacking....
October 6, 2006 7:46:55 AM

Question #1: How about display resolution? The 5mx had a 640x240 display. For the Psion 20xx, it would be nice to have 1024x600 or better, 1024x768, but we'd settle for 800x600. What do you think? And, are we being realistic about resolution?

In my opinion, instead of sticking to a 4:3 standard it would be best to use a 16:10 standard instead of a 4:3. This pushes the cost up some, more than likely, but it'll be easier to read.

Questions #2 and #3: A very low power Intel Core Solo processor makes sense here. Do you agree? How much system memory do we want? The 5mx came with a now very measly 16 MB. We'd need at least 512 MB, 1 GB would be better.


The processor would need to be fanless, consume less than 15watts (less heat dispersal). I'd have to say a 850Mghz-1ghz VIA Eden ESP processor with CN400 chipset. This also gives you the ability to run DDR memory; 266, 333 or 400 I believe. 512MB ram should be plenty to run a great deal of applications. The RAM should be upgradeable by the user (the original 512 should be soldered onboard), however a CPU upgrade would require a new mainboard.


Questions #4 and #5: What kind of storage are we going to use? Maybe solid state of some kind; maybe a 1.8" 40 GB drive. And should WiFi be built in?

I have to certainly go with solid state memory; CTF NAND-Flash would be the best bet because of it's size. A user-upgradeable NAND flash drive would be best, as to give a product a full life even after the storage capacity is no long valid. Start out on the low end with 32GB and make the higher end a 64GB. I believe Bluetooth as well as Wibree should be incorporated along with A/G and N WiFi into the device on the higher end only.


Question #6: What kind of battery or batteries would we need to give our Psion 20xx at least 10 hours of operating time.

Currently, the best type of battery to use is a Li-Ion battery. Rather cheap, easy enough to produce. As for 10hours of operating time, I doubt it, maybe 4 hours if the screen brightness were turned down with bluetooth off.



Questions #7 and #8: Would all the components we want in the 20xx fit in a case 6.5” to 7.5” long, 3.5” wide and around 1” high? Finally, what price are we talking here? Is $1,000 realistic? Is it too low, too high or about right for you?

I believe it could all fit into a 1" high package, it's been done before. $1000 is too rich for my blood, though it'll likely cost 1,500 for the first few thousand, as other manufacturers beging to copy it the price of needed components will decline as (if) demand rises. I would not buy one for more than 800 dollars myself even at top end.


Personally - I'd like to see it also have cell phone capabilities. Not that I mean hold the device up to your ear, but perhaps if using a bluetooth headset you could dial out on a CDMA / EDGE / Whatever network. Make a replaceable chip for the device that would allow it to work on any network, make it open source so the Cellphone companies could hop on board and make chips to work in the device.

Windows Platform... has to be a windows platform. However, if you really want the device to be "end all be all" make it open source and convince Apple to jump on the band wagon. That way, they can make drives for the device and Run Mac OSx on it as well. Since it'll be open source, the Linux mates would love being able to make drivers for it.
October 6, 2006 7:58:22 AM

That was one decent pda device reminds me of my old jornada 620. Speaking of which I gutted the old docking station into an arm mount that never quite fit right. I like to see a oem forearm or wrist mount, don't think i want i in my pocket.

As for resolution 800x600ish would be fine.

A Core solo is acceptable.

1 to 2GB with an aggresive hard disk spin down and application caching or ram drive.

30GB 1.8" 4200 or sub 4200rpm drive and maybe a premium model with a solid state drive. I don't like the idea of is a $3000 ultra portable like Sharp.


Wifi is a must for must computer like device to be useful or sell.

I'd love to be able to use AA's but the machine will need a li-ion or NiMH battery pack.

About $1000 would be nice but 1200-1500 might be acceptable depending on options.
October 6, 2006 8:45:29 AM

The price at this age of technology should be below 700$ anything above that is nonsense.
We need something that is functional and if it is broken or lost, you can buy another for a decent price.

Cpu 500-900 ULV celeron or amd or VIA C7 or Crusoe
integrated graphic and chipset with wlan
512MB ram
20GB hdd or even 4-8GB flash cheap stuff
1024x600 or something like VAIO with Crusoe chip
2xUSB,VGA out


primary function of such devices is surfing the net,writing documents and other office related stuff and not games or cad design.
October 6, 2006 9:01:52 AM

Hi.
This project is such a nice idea !
But, even if I am French, I live in India !
So, my point of view comes with a slight difference from what US users might dream about for this Project !
Here are my answers to your questions, even if it is worth only for the Indian Market, despite it is a hugely newly growing market that should not be ignored during the design of this Project, and therefore my personal remarks neither :
1/
2 resolutions should be available, in order to acomodate the visibility, the useability, and the battery life : default to 800 x 600. option to switch to : 1024 x 800. 64k colors minimum...
A super-graphics might not be necessary.
Anyway, it would nice if it supports DirectX 9.0c.
2/
CPU = no doubt about the new Low Power Solo Core from Intel. But why not AMD, coz might be cheaper, no ? Or preferably Latest Mobile Editions (Intel/AMD?), or otherwise the battery should be good enough, no ?
3/
RAM = 1 GB, upgradable to 2 GB.
There is never not enough RAM for Windows to run smoothly !...
The more you put, the better it is !
4/
HD :
definitively not solid state in a developing country coz too too much costly !!!
1.8"" 40GB perpendicular shock-resistant and with a little cache of flash is the perfect choice !
Do the so mobile iPod with a built-in small HD have any pbs ? No ! so, you see !...
5/
Wifi :
definitely yes : a/b/g.
But isnt Intel going to bring "n" also with its roseta platform ?
So it should be : a/b/g/n !!!
BTW : if we have "n", then we dont need also WiMax ! Or we have to choose between them, no ?
But it is not the connection of choice in a developing country !
So, a built-in LAN connection is a MUST-HAVE (all broadband in India comes as an Ethernet Cable and not at all via USB or even Telephone Lines, didnt you know that ?) !!!
BTW : do it good : 1GB LAN is better !
Bluetooth : I agree also. But please do it good : V 2.0 ! (BTW : A Version 3.0 has been anounced, isnt it, so better include it if available, no ?).
And, excuse me, but we have no need here of such things as : WLAN, EVDO or 3G+, coz it's only for US-folks, no ?! Please stop to be US-Centric ! Think about the Global Civilization and the Developing World First, it is time to wake up a little bit !!!...
6/
Of course a best batery is nice !
But we cant afford them here !
You have to find the best compromise between longevity / cost / size / convenience of rechargeability or exchangeability / availability in poor countries.
7/
about the size i dont know you must experiment many prototypes...
8/
about the price :
yes $1000 is a good price. but in the west only !
Here we have a full PC for less than $300.
So I guess that a portable PC would be worth investing in it, only if the cost does not go too much more than double of a PC.
So it means, I propose : $600 (actually, at least for India only...).
9/
OS :
definitively not Mobile Windows !
I only want to use a full Windows XP Pro with a SP3, whenever this one may be available !...
Thanks.
Bye.
October 6, 2006 9:02:25 AM

Quote:
The price at this age of technology should be below 700$ anything above that is nonsense.
We need something that is functional and if it is broken or lost, you can buy another for a decent price.

Cpu 500-900 ULV celeron or amd or VIA C7 or Crusoe
integrated graphic and chipset with wlan
512MB ram
20GB hdd or even 4-8GB flash cheap stuff
1024x600 or something like VAIO with Crusoe chip
2xUSB,VGA out


primary function of such devices is surfing the net,writing documents and other office related stuff and not games or cad design.


I Couldn't agree more. The Psion cost around £400 (?) when it was new so why are we trying to spec a £1500 laptop?
October 6, 2006 9:11:35 AM

How the HELL are you going to read 6 font at 1280x anything on a screen that's only at most 7 inches wide?

I would certainly hope nobody follows that kind of idiocy "more more more" in less and less space...
October 6, 2006 9:21:31 AM

Quote:
How the HELL are you going to read 6 font at 1280x anything on a screen that's only at most 7 inches wide?

I would certainly hope nobody follows that kind of idiocy "more more more" in less and less space...


To be fair, this screen will be almost twice as wide as my old Zaurus C860 VGA screen, so 1280 could be fully utilised, and with the zaurus, higher resolution (say 800x600) would not have been wasted, so I think even 1600x would be great, as long as software was designed for this - you could zoom things up to be the right size & they would look really smooth & not pixelated.

Although I'd say they are desireable, these high resolutions are not currently feasible for an affordable device of this size.
October 6, 2006 9:32:45 AM

The form-factor of the original 5mx should stay exactly the same. And the device should make use of every component that leads to best performance per Watt, lowest energy consumption and lowest weight. Therefore:

1. Specially selected Intel Core Solo ULV U1400 (Intel might want to co-operate on delivering the best components for such a highly anticipated device), 266 MHz FSB, all the energy-saving function enabled.
2. ULV chipset with GMA 950, lower clocks and 266 MHz FSB.
3. 512 MB PC2-5300 SDRAM clocked lower (133 MHz DDR) and operating on ultra low voltage. 512 MB is enough for XP with a little multitasking (Word, Excel, e-mail and Internet at once), and consumes very little energy.
4. 8 GB solid-state hard drive with an optimized version of XP that uses less space on a 4 GB partition.
5. LED backlit TFT of original fysical size with a 1152 x 432 resolution (enough for nice website rendering and very high resolution for the small screen dimensions).
6. All the wireless connection currently available: IrDA, Bluetooth 2.0 EDR and IEEE 802.11 a/b/g and WWAN (maybe Intel wants to add WiMax for a bargain).
7. 2x USB 2.0 (for printers, keyboard, mouses), 1x mini-DVI (for monitors, beamers or TV-sets; with dongle for D-sub or S-video), 3½ mm audio jack, SD/MMC slot (why use CF anyway, flash is dirt-cheap nowadays) and power-cable.
8. Original keyboard with magnesium keys.
9. The best in class PDA battery that is widely available (from a large manufacturer).
10. Magnesium alloy casing for light-weight and optimal durability.

Costs:
1. Processor $ 90
2./6. Chipset + motherboard + wireless $ 50
3. RAM $ 40
4. Solid-state $ 90
5. Screen $ 50
7./8./10. Housing + keyboard + connectors $ 50
9. Battery $ 30
11. Marketing $ 50
12. Total margin 100% $ 450
Total price $ 900
October 6, 2006 9:38:47 AM

Quote:
The form-factor of the original 5mx should stay exactly the same. And the device should make use of every component that leads to best performance per Watt, lowest energy consumption and lowest weight. Therefore:

1. Specially selected Intel Core Solo ULV U1400 (Intel might want to co-operate on delivering the best components for such a highly anticipated device), 266 MHz FSB, all the energy-saving function enabled.
2. ULV chipset with GMA 950, lower clocks and 266 MHz FSB.
3. 512 MB PC2-5300 SDRAM clocked lower (133 MHz DDR) and operating on ultra low voltage. 512 MB is enough for XP with a little multitasking (Word, Excel, e-mail and Internet at once), and consumes very little energy.
4. 8 GB solid-state hard drive with an optimized version of XP that uses less space on a 4 GB partition.
5. LED backlit TFT of original fysical size with a 1152 x 432 resolution (enough for nice website rendering and very high resolution for the small screen dimensions).
6. All the wireless connection currently available: IrDA, Bluetooth 2.0 EDR and IEEE 802.11 a/b/g and WWAN (maybe Intel wants to add WiMax for a bargain).
7. 2x USB 2.0 (for printers, keyboard, mouses), 1x mini-DVI (for monitors, beamers or TV-sets; with dongle for D-sub or S-video), 3½ mm audio jack, SD/MMC slot (why use CF anyway, flash is dirt-cheap nowadays) and power-cable.
8. Original keyboard with magnesium keys.
9. Magnesium alloy casing for light-weight and optimal durability.

Costs:
1. Processor $ 90
2./6. Chipset + motherboard + wireless $ 50
3. RAM $ 40
4. Solid-state $ 90
5. Screen $ 50
7./8./9. Housing + keyboard + connectors $ 50
10. Marketing $ 50
11. Total margin 100% $ 420
Total price $ 840


Nice spec. Probably the most sensible yet! I would opt for a smaller solid state drive along with a small 1.8" drive. Could work out cheaper and give more space.
October 6, 2006 11:14:31 AM

This is the laptop design I have been waiting for -- one unit for everything, portable as heck.... full keyboard... a miracle. I would pay a lot for that. I would buy one without hesitation @ $1500.00. Im not rich either.

1) long-lasting batteries are a MUST!! I am sick of 2-3 hour batteries that let you get started on work and quit on you. 4 hours is a minimum. 8 would be great!

2) can run any online content -- including flash and Java games (im a runescape junkie... would pay 1000.00 for a computer JUST to play Runescape anywhere I go...) I want to be able to do my banking and bill paying anywhere, anytime. I want to be able to shop online.

3) I want to be able to look at pictures and movies on it reasonably

4) I want to be able to read books on it, and use a word processor to write one if I want too.

5) email of course

6) good enough graphics for these uses

7) 30 GB hard drive would be fine -- or solid state

8) WIFI ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED, come on now!

9) AMD processors, please! (Intel has a fab in Israel... divest!)
October 6, 2006 12:49:59 PM

Intel is evil, but they do have a plant in Isreal so they can't be totally evil. Hence I buy their products. After all, AMD has facilities in Texas...
October 6, 2006 1:24:13 PM

There are various ideas of what the new 'Psion 5' should be, should it be as the Psion 5 was in it's day but updated, or a tiny PC?

Some suggest it being a small X86 machine, others a high end PDA. There could be 2 versions, an X86 extremely expensive version, and a more affordable high-end PDA version.

The PDA version would offer most of the functionality of a PC, but the battery life could be amazing, it would be instant on/off, and would be a lot less expensive etc.

The X86 version could be the coolest ever mini laptop.

Should there be two different versions, or do people want to just go for the X86 version? (As most people's specs suggest this)?
October 6, 2006 3:17:34 PM

the 5mx was, and in some ways still is, brilliant. What we need is not a differently packaged laptop. Go and buy a sony viao if that's what youa re after.

Keep the size, form factor exactly as it is. the psions screen is about the right size, make it colour, up the resolution to something comparable to a PSP screen, and keep the touch screen.

You could use an arm processor, just make it fast enough to play back divx video, and handle mp3.

Keep the CF slot, and make it CFII so it can take microdisks, add usb 2.0, virtually everything has usb from ext hard drives to cameras.

Add Wireless lan, and bluetooth, keep the IR, but include a IR control package like LIRC for linux (makes it the ultimate tv control)

All of this tech is there in the marketplace already, it just needs someone to bring it together in the classic design, which is possibly still patented by psion, but even a clamshell design like the 3mx is a very workable design. Some of these new chinese smartphones are nearly there, as is the nokia communicator, but not quite.
October 6, 2006 3:35:07 PM

My few cents:

It's mainly for office use and an on-the-go, highly-mobile-electronic-calendar,
so no need for a very fast cpu and state-of-the-art graphics.
A hugely underclocked Core Solo ULV and GMA950 will be more than enough.
I'm not exactly familiar with ultra-low-consumption chips, might be some
better options, too. And like those new Toshibas, the casing should also serve
as a heatsink.
No fans.
Display: 800x480, 16 bit should be plenty.
RAM: 512 should be enough. How's about soldering the chips in instead of
using laptop sodimm and slots? Would save some space.
Storage: nand flash. Small, low power consumption and even cheap - ideal
for this, isn't it?
Ports: 2 USB, DVI, SD, headphone jack.
Wifi: a must.
Battery: 4xAA
October 6, 2006 7:58:02 PM

I liked the 5mx when I first saw it - I knew several people who had them.
Lest we look at it with rose-tinted spectacles, though...

1) The screen was awful. Thinking about a replacement, are we after
something that's easy to use outside (transflective), or the best
overall picture quality (probably backlit)?

2) The keyboard, although the slide design was genius, wasn't
perfect. The way you hit your thumb on the case every time you
tried to use the space bar, for example. I think we could grow it
slightly (so long as it's still pocketable). FWIW, I couldn't use the
5mx keyboard properly, it was slightly too small. I *do* use a
Libretto 70CT all the time (still) - there's not much in it.

3) EPOC32 is actually not that bad an OS, as evidenced by the
ubiquity of Symbian. I have to admit that a device like this would
be much more tempting as a "real" PC, though - it's much easier
to do it with an ARM (see Nokia's 9000 series), but there's really
no PC of this size out there. Would it be the ideal PDA? No. Would
it be very useful? If cheap enough, I'd buy one.

My thoughts...

a) The 7.2" 1280x768 screen on the Toshiba Libretto U100/U105 is
very nice. You can always up the "dpi" setting in Windows. Bear
in mind that many apps can't handle screens that are any smaller
than this - go for 800x480 or similar, and there'll be problems with
too much being unusable.

b) The hard icons are pointless - fill the lid with the LCD as much as
possible. Some PDA application could overlay it when not doing
generic Windows stuff.

c) Since there's no room for a trackpad (although a trackpoint has
its merits), I'm resigned to the touch screen. Agreed that if it can
be made to rotate, table-style, that would be a bonus - but that
may not play with the sliding keyboard. I'd seriously consider a
scroll wheel and possibly some custom buttons on the side of the
case - they make a massive difference to the usability of the
P800/900 series of Sony Ericsson phones. Otherwise your hand
is in the way of the screen. Mind you, a trackpad on the back of
the screen might work.

d) Agreed with a low voltage Core chip - and underclock it as much
as possible (certainly no fans). It can run faster when docked.
If power can be kept low enough, charge it over USB (at least on
an overnight trickle charge). Power consumption is *much* higher
than even old ARMs, so you'll never get much life out of anything
that size. Problem is, XP struggles on anything slower; Vista will
be even worse (although it might solve the scaling issue). Linux
is fine on my P120MMX Libretto, but I wouldn't say no to being able
to dual-boot. Recent attempts at dual-chip devices (ARM + Pentium)
are interesting for PDAs, but are probably too complicated here.
VIA chips are interesting, but actually aren't incredibly low power
in comparison with a low-clocked Core, and can't be sped up when
running from mains. No attempt at clever graphics is going to work
in this form factor, but XP doesn't really need it for basic running.

e) Go with mini-USB (possibly OTG, with mass storage so you can
sync without powering up).

f) Doubt you'll ever get it to go with AA batteries - not enough
capacity. Li-ion is the way, however nice the idea of buying
replacements in an emergency might be.

g) 802.11 is a massive usability benefit, although not turned on for
long if you like battery life. Bluetooth gives you the possibility of
cell phone modems, external keyboards and mice, etc. Big big
win.

h) VGA (probably via a break-out) is useful, although there are
CF-card and USB VGA adaptors. Go HDMI 1.3 mini-connector
if you're feeling posh. Video playback's going to be a bit
limited, though. A real VGA adaptor is always useful - you
never have the break-out cable with you when you want to
show someone something. DVI would be nicer, but that would
take up half the side of the device!

i) Even if the device isn't a couple of mm bigger, I'd love to see a
slightly bigger keyboard. The butterfly design from the 701C
Thinkpad might be a useful starting point. Keep the stability of
the 5mx design, though.

j) Keep the compact flash slot. You can get all kinds of adaptors,
including SD card readers. (Also including 802.11, but that's
probably useful enough to integrate.) Cardbus is probably too big,
and ExpressCard still too rare.

k) Much as I'd love solid state, it's still pretty expensive. I'd either
go for a 1.8" drive (where?) or stick to low capacity - even 8GB
is probably plenty for this kind of device. You can always add a
big CF card for more, or run an external USB drive. Solid state
has the benefit that it's easier to build into the case shape.

l) 512MB as a minimum. I'm wary of cost, though. 1GB would be
nicer, but this is never going to be a high-end PC, and would
be pretty poor as any kind of primary machine. My Libretto
is fine with 32MB and a big swap file, mainly because I don't
try to run XP on it. :-)

m) 1" is possibly too thick. My Libretto is about that, and it's not
pocketable. Shave it down a bit and the other dimensions don't
matter quite so much. The Libretto has a full 9mm HDD and a
PC-card slot, so I'm sure things can be shrunk.

n) I think £4-500 would work (so yes, $1000). £300 more so, and
depending on the keyboard I might even be tempted at that point
(so long as I can dual-boot into Linux). This is a gadget/second PC,
so it's not what people will put the big spend into.

I'd also like IrDA, but that's because some of us are still stuck in
the stone age. :-)

Interesting idea. I'll give it some more thought over the weekend.

Btw, people are aware of what Psion did with CE with the Netbook,
yes? Very nice devices for web surfing.

--
Fluppeteer
October 6, 2006 9:09:37 PM

Quote:
How the HELL are you going to read 6 font at 1280x anything on a screen that's only at most 7 inches wide?


I think you're finding the point, one which so many have missed by a ****ing country mile. It's good fun reading these cloud-cuckoo land featuresets though.

The point is: the 5mx is, was and always will be for a demographic who won't be reading Tom's Hardware.
October 6, 2006 9:19:35 PM

If you give this thing a the ability to have a video-out you could easily keep it at 640x480, and that would be more then reasonable.. not to mention viewable.
October 6, 2006 11:13:58 PM

Sounds Great, nice to hear of another clam shell type device.

I am a proud owner of an HP 200LX 4mb and a HP Jornada 728. I am a Land Surveyor and the HP 200LX was the work horse of our industry for a long time. The 200LX is very tough and hard to break. The Jornada 728 i'm alittle more careful with and could never survey with out in the field.
I still use both. The HP Jornada 728 is very nice however the screen is not bright enough to work well in full sun. So make the device that works very well under any light conditions. Also are you actually thinking of making a clams shell device with a Windows XP OS. That would help compability that kills PDAs. With my poor Jornada 728 I'm stuck with the same OS and Internet Explorer. The 200 Mhz Strong Arm on it is also getting slow. But the 2 Compact flash slots are awsome for storage. So adding two forms of storage cards is a good idea. If it is going to have Windows Xp on it it would be nice to have a PCMCIA slot, so many device can plug in to it
I have a device that has Mobile 2003 and a Xscale processor of 624mhz. It is smoking fast. I couldnt imagine using an X86 on a clam shell device. But again it would be great for compability.

So my suggestion would be Bright Screen, Durablity, PCMCIA, Good Processor either Xscale or X86, Audio output port, USB Host port, USB Client Port, OS Upgradeable, Long Battery Life and actually produced and for sale : )
October 6, 2006 11:39:59 PM

Quote:

A hugely underclocked Core Solo ULV and GMA950 will be more than enough.


How about a Transmeta?

Speaking of power, the battery pack in the Gateway ultra-portable I was using was a two or thee cell size. The cells they use are the same as used for AA batteries, and the thing ran with a real screen for over 4 hours.
October 7, 2006 2:07:11 AM

I owned a Psion 3 and then 3a way back in the early 90's - back then a half MB of RAM was a big deal, then much latter I got a Revo. I was always a big fan of:

a) the form factor - great for handheld thumb powered use, and desktop two handed note taking
b) AA battery power - AA batteries are universal, convenient and rechargeable.
c) the software - simple, powerful software completely adapted to keyboard only use.
d) synchronized with a desktop computer from day one - I never lost anything from my Psion.

and all this was over ten years ago. Never mind the multithreaded object oriented OS with a scripting language that kicked Palms *ss - even the modern Palm OS is inferior to Psion's OS.

I now have a Windows Mobile powered T-Mobile MDA - its an okay form factor with some cool hardware inside (WiFi b/g and bluetooth) but it is not as nice form factor as any Psion I ever owned for day to day use (it is no good for typing on a desk), and the software blows. Sure a web browser, media player and email client is nice but so many of the functions of Windows mobile require me to pull out the stylus and start tapping at the screen - even when the full keyboard is available. That is nuts. And damn it the s/w just plain crashes too much, even with 64MB of RAM which is 128x what my Psions ever had!

My vote is for Psion 3a or Revo form factor - both of which were eminently pocketable - and 640x480 or 800x600 screen, external SD only - put in two slots like the original Psions - one for expansion and one for interchangeable media. USB 2.0 is a must. And port Symbian OS (the successor of Psion's OS) to an embedded Linux and run that, I don't want a crippled Win XP on it. Finally put in a WWAN radio - UMTS or something like that because 100% mobile connectivity is what every mobile device will have to have in the future. I'll take that over unrealiable short range WiFi any day.

PS. You're nuts to think you need 1GB of RAM, use Linux running Symbian for compatibility with all that old but still good s/w and you'll need 1/4 of that, if not less.

PPS. If this thing doesn't stay alive for WEEKS with 2 AA batteries and provide DAYS of continuous use then forget about it.
October 7, 2006 2:49:02 AM

What pisses me off is when I pull a dead battery pack out of a laptop and look it over only to discover it's made of a bunch AA batteries soldered together. You pay $180 for 8 double-A's in a custom plastic sheeth? The world must be stoned...
October 7, 2006 3:19:01 AM

Quote:
What pisses me off is when I pull a dead battery pack out of a laptop and look it over only to discover it's made of a bunch AA batteries soldered together. You pay $180 for 8 double-A's in a custom plastic sheeth? The world must be stoned...


I think the old NiMH laptop batter packs were like this but not the Lithium Ion ones which have been pretty much standard for five years or so. I don't know why there is no LiON equivalent of the AA, I think it might be because of what could happen if you put one in a regular AA charger - I suspect they might have a high risk of exploding or "going Dell".

Certainly a good number of cordless phones have battery packs that are a bunch of AA batteries sheathed together and you pay $10 for that. Doh!

I have read there is a new battery technology that is Zinc based (Zinc Ion?) and is not only higher capacity but also safer than lithium ion. Should be in mass production by 2008 so maybe there is a hope for a new high capacity AA based on it, just in time for the Psion mx200...
October 7, 2006 4:10:19 AM

Ah, forget all that, I'd take a bunch of NiMH cells strapped together for my auto starter battery if they could just give me the 8-year typical life I get from lead acid. Think about all the extra cranking power, w00t!
!