Just to disagree with my esteemed colleague:
>> Psion Series 5 MX 16Mb EP2+PsiWin £319
As Mike said, I doubt that there are any in stock yet, but this is a
good price. I'm waiting to see what Psion's "Quantum" keyboardless device
turns out like before deciding where to go from my existing Psion 5.
>> So anybody have first hand experience of the Psion5 and linux, (or
>> other easily acquireable handhelds). Which has the best linux
>> useability/price ratio?
The Psion supports PPP and IMAP, so it's easy to use its mail and stuff
with Linux. There's also an OSS implementation of parts of the PsiWin
suite under Linux, for transferring files up and down. I have to say,
however, that setting this up is fiddly compared with the Palm; OTOH,
people are "working on it", and I have no doubt but that it'll get
The 5mx is a much more "serious" machine than the Palms; it has a "real"
OS (32bit, multitasking, yadda yadda), a faster processor and more RAM -
if all turns out as planned, this EPOC operating system will be what we
see in phones and communicators from all the major manufacturers (Nokia,
Ericsson, Motorola and Panasonic are all shareholders in Symbian). That
said, the Palms are much *quicker* to use, if not as powerful - you can
just flip them open and start work, whereas the Psion is closer to the
"PC experience". It'll be interesting to see what Psion do with the
"keyboardless tablet" reference design for EPOC; their "Quantum" system
looks promising, and potentially a Palm beater - the EPOC applications
are definitely more powerful than the Palm equivalents (where
> = Mike Knell
> There's a suite of Unix connectivity applets for the Palm machines
> which do just about everything the Windows stuff will do, but they're
> a bit less polished, obviously. As an MH freak, I love being able to
> just file relevant mail into a folder (pilot, in my case) and have it
> downloaded to the Palm machine automagically, and outgoing mail
> uploaded and injected into the system. [...]
I've seen this work (well, mostly heard it work, from somewhere behind
me in the office), and it is very nice. No equivalent (yet) for the
Psion series - apparently a lot of effort has been put into
synchronisation with the newest version of PsiWin - with any luck, some
standards should be available to implement something simailar under
Linux. I doubt that it's difficult.
The Psion has a full PPP suite (on CD with the '5, in ROM on the '5mx)
which implements more-or-less a standard TCP stack. There's a bizarre
lack of TCP/IP applications for the 5, though, which is a pity. I don't
know what the TCP/IP/internet story is regarding the Palms.
I use my '5 to send SMSs, faxes and emails more-or-less regularly using
my Nokia 8810 - it only works with phones/modems which support the AT
command set directly, but there are bits available from both Psion and
3rd parties to connect to other systems.
> = Mike Knell
> It's probably horses for courses, really. As far as prices are
> concerned, the Palm III is now under 200 quid, I believe, and used
> Psion 5s can be had for not much less. The Palm IIIx (4MB version of
> the Palm III) is about 230+VAT, I understand.
Last prices I saw here had the Palm III at about 220 quid, the IIIx
(faster, with more RAM) at about 280, the V at about 370, and the S5 at
around 400. The S5mx will probably start at around 450, and drop back
to current S5 prices pretty quickly... rough guesses.
> Memory is more generous on the Psions - the '5 is generally 8MB as
> opposed to the standard 2MB on the Palms - but this isn't too much
> of a disadvantage as the Palms are much more efficient in their use
> of RAM (software is generally simpler and therefore tinier)
Yes. Psion apps tend to be larger than Palm ones, but they also tend to
be "full-featured" apps, whereas Palm ones tend basically to be
applets. There are exceptions, of course. That said, I've never heard
of anyone who has run out of memory on either...
> = Joe Desbonnet
> I personally don't care what OS so long as it runs Java... I've still
> to find a PDA that runs Java (properly).
The Psion 5mx includes Java. I don't know how solid an implementation
it is, however. The JDK version is 1.1.4 - I understand that Java
Platform 2.0 is slated for the next major release of EPOC.
Philip Trickett and Paul Jakma both ask whether Linux is available for
these machines... hum. *Technically*, yes - there are versions of
Linux booting on both the Series 5 and the Palm III. It's not horribly
useful, though - the RAM and "disk" space is so limited that you're not
going to end up with much functionality beyond "hack value". The Psion
has the edge here - the keyboard, larger RAM and availability of pretty
big CF disks for storage is a plus, but it's *very* early days yet, and
I wouldn't really want to use Linux as the main OS on these machines
just yet - maybe in a year or two.
> = Paul Jakma
> what's the native mail client like? mail is the nr 1 function for me,
> hence the importance of being able to run linux. First thing i'd do is
> try and get Pine to compile on it. So i guess development tools are
> another important factor.
The Series 5's mail client is oooo-kay. Not brilliant, but it works -
it's best (very good) at composing/sending plaintext mail, less
wonderful at MIME stuff. PPP and IMAP3 are supported for incoming mail,
SMTP for outgoing. The one on the 5mx looks like a *big* improvement,
with things like viewers for Word docs, nested mail folders, and so on.
The 5Alive review of the 5mx mentioned above does a good job of
The Psion 5 includes a semi-interpreted language called "OPL"
("Organiser Programming Language", inherited from the old Psion
Organisers...), which is a bit like Pascal. The professional SDK,
available from Psion, includes C++ and (on the 5mx) Java APIs. I've
only played with it a little, but it's a decent programming environment
- most of the work is done in Windows (an emulator is supplied), and the
final files transferred to the Psion.
Hope this helps,
Colm Buckley B.A. B.F. # colm at tuatha.orgcolm.buckley at tcd.iecolm at computer.org
Department of Computer Science # +353 87 2469146 # whois cb3765
Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland. # http://www.tuatha.org/~colm/
If there's anything worse than a pedant, it's a pedant with a Psion.
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