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Help MobilityGuru Redesign Psion's Iconic, Ultrasmall 5mx - Part 2

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January 3, 2007 11:48:04 AM

Your response to our article on redesigning the Psion 5mx was overwhelming: over 100 e-mails and 100 pages of Forum discussions. Tiago Pascoal has distilled your input and, along with his own thoughts and those of our staff, he discusses the components to be used to build the Psion 20xx.
January 3, 2007 3:31:43 PM

To be really ultra portable device it really should have 3G connectivity and maby little webcam or something like that to provide "real" 3G status. OR why not go for 4G since it's already behind the corner.
January 3, 2007 3:46:42 PM

I love the design points you summarized here. If the 20xx had even half the features with the famous formfactor, many PDA/smartphone folks would rethink their premium offerings.

That is what this rig would be is a premium. I think that's the angle M$FT is taking with UMPC. Even Sony's redone UX series is very much premium grade stuff.

So to price this puppy from $600 to $1000 is a fair offering for what you'd get. Remember we're not talking about a full PC but an highly functional extension with the same OS to allow ease of use.

I used my 5mx for meetings and in data centers for taking notes. This 20xx would replace many server support tasks my laptop does now. And since this would be my personal device, my home PC can be more beefy since I can use the 20xx for trips and connect up via RDP/SSH to home for serious stuff.

I think we will see tidbits of these design elements enter the market but with how cookie cutter all the vendors have become, truly innovative devices like the 5mx are few and far between. There will be another "killer device" but i'm not expecting it from a large corp and not anytime soon.

I'm glad I still have my unit. Keyboard is a little sticky and yes my screen blanks out every so often but I might just get it out of moth balls and fire "Poindexter" up for one last spin. I but I'll still get the ohh and ahh's.... :lol: 
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January 4, 2007 12:03:26 AM

What a missed product. One question I have is why the PDa in its current format took off. And why did the psion wade away. Maybe it was just a product before its time, that would "seduce millions" today.

How hard would it be to make?
January 4, 2007 4:42:32 AM

unless the processor and ram were made pretty darn small, and the rest of the components as well, i dont see hwo one can fit everything in taht tiny package. i mean, seriously, just looking at my cpu, northbridge and graphics card core make me go how does one fit all those three chips into that case? plus all the power regulators, pcb, speakers, buttons, batteries, sound card, power supply jack, and everythign else that hasnt been mentioned (well, hard drive/flash drive/ memory) into that tiny little package?

to be honnest, i think the dockign station is a wonderful idea. but how would one connect to it? via a USB port? that would be quite something, and slightly wierd too, since i dont quite know how the whole dock's information can fit through one usb port, even 2.0, since its 480Mbitsps = 60mbps. well, im assuming it could take the tasks of the firewire, which is 400mbitsps and the ethernet connection, which is 10/100 (the 1000 standard isnt in too many routers as far as i can tell) without too much hassle...

but yeah, i would love to see this product on the shelves one day.

About the battery, if it is a lithium polymer battery, how would one buy replacements? and how would these be protected? ive seen a few of them blow up after improper charging/handling, and ive had one, poked it with a needle and it heated up prety quickly, i put it in water straight away (salt water, its a way of disposing of these "safely")

It would be nice to see both CF and SD card slots in the psion 20xx, but the space restrictions come into play once again. However, if these slots are in, we could "upgrade" our "hard drives" later on when huge sd/cf come out.

Usb ports can probably be shared through a hub, so im guessing two would suffice if spare is tight, other usb ports could be on the docking station.

Really good ideas, there is one thing that struck me though, the mention of the space bar having to be hit dead-center because of the uni contact point. Aren't most keyboards like that? i know mine is, and there is a metal bar that makes the whole space bar go down wherever i push, so i never have to hit the dead center for it to work. perhaps a metal bar instead of three contact points?
January 4, 2007 2:22:30 PM

Well, given the nature of the components I'm sure someone would make a version of linux for this even if it is designed to work with windows.

Time to start hunting a developer :D 
January 6, 2007 4:51:02 AM

Quote:
unless the processor and ram were made pretty darn small, and the rest of the components as well, i dont see hwo one can fit everything in taht tiny package. i mean, seriously, just looking at my cpu, northbridge and graphics card core make me go how does one fit all those three chips into that case? plus all the power regulators, pcb, speakers, buttons, batteries, sound card, power supply jack, and everythign else that hasnt been mentioned (well, hard drive/flash drive/ memory) into that tiny little package?

If everyone wasn't so set on having an Intel processor, Via could solve all these problems and have less power as well, Via c7 ULV. Sure they're slower, but no x86 chip is as extensively designed for mobile platforms, plus it has a very integrated and low power chipset to match. Besides, how much horsepower would you need to run word, or better yet abiword (linux)? Via spent their time developing this chip for exactly this type of product, why not use it?
January 6, 2007 5:02:26 AM

Quote:

If everyone wasn't so set on having an Intel processor, Via could solve all these problems and have less power as well, Via c7 ULV. Sure they're slower, but no x86 chip is as extensively designed for mobile platforms, plus it has a very integrated and low power chipset to match. Besides, how much horsepower would you need to run word, or better yet abiword (linux)? Via spent their time developing this chip for exactly this type of product, why not use it?


well, im still runing a p3 910 mhz and its by no means slow with 512 mb of pc133 ram, so as long as that via c3 performs atleast that well, the last model on that list (779) might be worth it. if not, then the intel CD2 would be much better since the max TDP is about the same as the 5 w+ models, on top of delivering the performance associated with CD2.

and its not necessarily because everybody is intent on having an intel, its simply because it seems the best suited processor for the task performance/watt wise, the best compromise.
January 6, 2007 7:00:56 PM

Seems the massed intelligence of the pocketpc-hungry masses has spoken - and with good results. But one item is being forgotten - the spacebar. Since touch-typing on any keyboard so small is impossible, the spacebar should be reduced by a good half. This could result in enough space at the front corners for a couple of small Harmon Kardons. I'm not a great fan of turning this potentially great item into an MP3 player, but a few favourite albums are nice to have while you're working. Another save would come from dumping the CF slot. SD works for me.
January 7, 2007 12:46:53 AM

I'm not a mac person but it struck me how well something like this could catch on if marketed by Apple. Make it white, slap on MacOS and give it to their marketers :lol: 
January 7, 2007 9:58:27 AM

Quote:
About the battery, if it is a lithium polymer battery, how would one buy replacements? and how would these be protected? ive seen a few of them blow up after improper charging/handling, and ive had one, poked it with a needle and it heated up prety quickly, i put it in water straight away (salt water, its a way of disposing of these "safely")


Dunno about lithium-polymer, but you can buy lithium-ion battery packs off the shelf that fit into a battery compartment that holds two AA batteries side-by-side; I dunno if you can get one that fits into a battery compartment that holds two AAs inline, though.
January 7, 2007 10:13:27 AM

i know that energizer sells "lithium" AA batteries on the shelf, these arent rechargeable though

about lithium polymer:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_ion_polymer_battery
http://www.plantraco.com/hobbies/product-lpcells.html
http://www.flightpower.co.uk/core/datasheets/safety_info.htm

quote from the last link:
Quote:
What can go wrong:

Fire can be caused by: ‘Overcharging’ (wrong charger or charger setting, unbalanced battery load, charger fouled by poor power supply), charging a damaged cell or pack and short circuit (including crash damage).

Cells or packs can be damaged by: Over discharging (running ‘too flat’ and/or too hot, discharging an unbalanced battery load), short circuit and crash damage.


which is why a safety circuit is needed. (IMO)
January 8, 2007 8:28:42 PM

Check out the new OQO 02. That's the kind of docking station I'm talking about.

If THEY can cram all that gear inside such a small form factor, it makes sense to do the same with the 20xx.
January 12, 2007 11:10:00 PM

The changes to computers now with devices like the OQO, UMPC, Samsung sph p9000 and others prove that a new Psion could be virtually a full fledged pc in your pocket and to me that is a device many could use and I would pay $900 to $2000. If it has the ability to run standad desktop software and also have some type of wireless with that great keyboard then it would warrant prices in that higher range.

The display should be color tft so that it could be readable in daylight conditions.

The processor should be something with enough power to enable fast use yet low power.

The system memory should be enough to add dozens of new programs and have additional input memory such as CF cards.

In the US it should have wifi and maybe that could be a replacable module or card as eventually 4g etc. will come here?

Battery should give it at least 3 hours continous use or better and have back up battery. The main battery should be removable for easy swaps.

The size should be 3.5 to 4" wide, about 7 to 7.5 inches long and under one inch thick.

Price would be dependant on software. If it had Vista XP, with wifi, that great keyboard, MS office and outlook and decent memory for new softwares along with the above it would be worth at least $900 and up to $2000. I would like to see it in the $900 to $1500 price range personally.
January 13, 2007 2:05:03 AM

This Psion 20xx is all well and good, and I must say I like the form factor, which I have never seen before, but many proposals in the article are simply not feasible.

The size of the processor and supporting chipset of choice is really pushing it, unless the unit was made thicker and the motherboard placed beneath the keyboard rack.

Alkaline batteries? Powering an x86 computer for a usable length of time on 4 AA batteries is a pipe dream, I'm afraid. Rechargable NIMH batteries, for instance, would yeild up to 2600mAh. A 5v series of 4 would yeild ~12 watts of power. The processor might top out at 5w, but you can expect the various supporting chips to contribute another 5w, the flash drive would take another 0.5w, the screen another 1w or so, and etc... That would give you about an hour....

You know, I have just proven myself wrong. I'm actually beginning to think this would work! If anyone built it, that is.
January 15, 2007 4:09:20 PM

I do not attempt to say I am an expert in technology but how can devices like the new Samsung sph p-9000 that run XP have color screen etc. last longer than an hour? the same goes for the OQO and other devices? To me it sounds like there is existing hardware such as those and other UMPC's that prove a portable device can run for at least 2-4 hours continous?

Another option would be to have the device utilize the Dualcor concept of running XP and Windows Mobile so that if a person used Windows Mobile for word, excel, outlook and typical programs and then used the XP OS for specialized softwares etc. then battery life of 8-10+ hours is doable?

For me what I want is a pocket computer with a touch type keyboard where I can use typical business software that a Windows Mobile device can do but also like to run XP software as everyone will have specialized software for their profession that is only available in standard desktop OS which is XP. I would be happy with 2-3 hours of continous usage but yes would like more. I think that since other mobile devices from laptops to UMPC's to small devices like the OQO & Samsung sph p-9000 can run in that length of time why cann't a new Psion?

My personal assumption is not AA or AAA batteries but rather some specialized battery for the device that is removable so that one can swap it if needed and have a back up battery for data.
February 7, 2007 12:16:08 PM

Nice feature build but not for me.

You’ve designed a large portable Windows device with too many features, bigger than Psion 5mx - my ideal is a small Psion 3a - at a time when Intel Macs & Ubuntu Linux are drawing people away from the problems created by Microsoft, and small forms are becoming standard, e.g. Sprint PPC 6700, a 6 oz cell/keyboard/color cell phone with Bluetooth or USB modem and 1xEV-DO Rev A, compatible with Mac or PC for a few hundred dollars.

And note the move away from the kludgy PCMCIA cards to Sprint’s use of Novatel X720 wireless cards with GPS chipset to utilize the first Location Based Services (LBS) capability with EV-DO Rev A, if you want a fine card for your computer - some laptops come with it built in.

I’ve already thrown $50,000 down the drain on tech stuff that is dead in a short time, and have no desire to throw away a lot more. I have too many computers, all internet capable, and am forced to have 2 ISP’s, home & office. I use a cell phone for talking, and do not want camera, mp3, videocams, internet on yet another device, however the Sprint PPC 6700 is tempting and only 6 oz. Repeat 6 oz with Bluetooth modem to my computer.

I like the Psion 3a just as a PDA/calendar as it can be carried easily in pocket or purse and memory is huge, but the 5mx is a heavy brick only needed if you have fat fingers. It flat out kills any desire to carry it; it’s a cludge. I don’t need useless expensive features that duplicate what I am already using 12 hours a day on large 24” LCD screens.

Please keep in mind that all medical PDA software alas runs only on Palm OS, including all prescription writing software, and this has been true for years. There is a federal mandate to digitize all medical records, which is a different matter, yet pocket PDA’s for MD’s, hospitals and technicians are a growing need as all activity must be digital and portable. Encryption is mandatory for medical. Hospitals have plenty of large screen computer terminals with web access if needed.

Theft or loss of devices is a major issue. If there were a way to program it to prevent use and loss of data if it were stolen, that would be a major plus. Finally, remember the magic weight 6 oz. and price a few hundred dollars. Your device features will be outdated in months or 1 or 2 years, faster than your main computer that you might keep at least 3 to 7 years, but the basic functions of personal data/calendar/spreadsheets are timeless. Replaceable AAA or AA batteries are a necessity when you cannot recharge on the fly.
May 6, 2007 4:54:12 AM

First the question of whether the Psion 5 is or is not the right size seems
rather academic at this point. The Psion 5 as a piece of hadware was and is loved to this day for 2 simple reasons: its FUNCTIONAL keyboard and
its overall size period. The size should not be in question, sure to be safe
and allow for slightly better heat disipation, slightly more functional keyboard and the newer chip sets, it could be a few millimeters bigger, but thats all.

Two design notes as per the 20x design prototype. The webcam and up/down botton have no place wasting precious screen real estate. USE all the space available for the screen please! The cam can go right at the top center and the toggle switch absoluty anywhere else. And last the case should have a rubberized casing to allow for the very most common problem; smashing them against stuff. end, JL
August 24, 2007 8:23:21 PM

Hi,
sorry for my english: my french language it's better and ... the italian perfect! :sol: 
I've read informations on the project Psion 20xx: cool, but with a big defaut for me.
A new Psion MX with Windows it's an horrible idea! :fou: 
I can thinking to buy a new MX, also if it'isnt a little expansive; but not if it run with Windows.
And it's not a question of my recent choise to be a Mac User, but because I lived many years with Win (3.11, 95, 98 and XP). I remember the time when I tried to use some Microsoft's web applications with my Psion: it was impossible, because I had a Psion (not a Platform Win), also with a good app inside ... :non: 
So, putting now XP inside a new Psion it's for me like to make a pact with the devil! :pfff: 
It's better Symbian (that is moreover the grandson of Psion ER5); if you want, it's better Linux (I dont love it,
but it's open source ... I see for this moment the Zaurus like a successor of Psion).
If you want, you can of course put XP; but you must preview - until from the beginning - the use of an other alternative O.S, or the possible clients like me - than they do not want to return behind to fight against virus, bugs, restore, arrests force and that they do not want to cohabit with a pachyderm - they will not follow to you.
My Psion it's old, but ... it's a Psion. And for to be a Psion not enough a case and one keyboard. Like for to be a New Psion 5MX, not enough to have a color screen, two or tree USB port or a wi-fi card. It's important to have a very good lite O.S, stable and efficient with agiles but completes applications: sorry, but this all this cannot be Windows XP (or, pire, Vista :cry:  ).

Ecridi
Venice (... that one of the gondolas and the channels :kaola:  )
Italy
August 25, 2007 11:05:28 AM

hallo
I'm 100% agreeing on what Ecridi writes. That's not because I'm from italy too, but because I think Linux is a choice to be strongly considered. Lots of problems that Ecridi describes should be avoided. Linux is an OS that don't need to prove its capability to run on different platforms without so many effort - a thing that windows, 2000, XP, vista or whatsoever won't never have.
Last but not the least, using Linux there will be a chance to drop the price of the machine. Windows has never been for free, while Linux is, and OSS software that can be run into the new Psion too.
Putting OSX is the same thing, and while it (probably) will be more reliable than Win for sure it will be more expensive without no appreciable advantages than the ones related to Apple Users.
I'm a satisfied Linux user, a less satisfied Win XP Pro user, and a poor guy not capable to afford Apple's costs to pay white shining things ;-)
rey from Turin (that one of the 2006 World Winter Olympic Games, FIAT, and a lot of other things)
February 11, 2008 10:39:14 AM

So this forum has been up for a while I like the idea, but has anything happened yet? no recent posts that I can see. Has the project been abandoned?
!