Psion's compact computers compete with WinCE devices

Psion's compact computers compete with WinCE devices

By Mark A. Kellner

Special to GCN

Two extremely compact computers from Psion Inc. of Concord, Mass., a division of British maker Psion PLC, are on the way to the market.

The $399 Revo handheld, which can fold up and fit into a pocket, comes bundled with proprietary applications for appointment and contact management, e-mail, instant messaging and Internet connectivity.

The Revo has a touch-sensitive display and a keyboard larger than on most other handhelds. A phone manager utility lets users swap and manage phone lists with some mobile phones from leading manufacturers.

A Today view summarizes daily tasks or meetings and shows alarms and battery level.

David Hayden, a senior analyst with Mobile Insights Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., said the Revo has a 'cool factor not unlike the iBook' notebook from Apple Computer Inc. For its size and weight, Hayden said, the Revo has an impressive keyboard.

'As we move to a wireless world and messaging from anywhere becomes viable for the mainstream, the Palm platform [from Palm Computing Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif.,] has a major limitation in that it does not have a keyboard,' he said.

On the enterprise side, Psion president Craig Swallow said the company's instant-on, Java-based netBook subnotebook will have a full-sized keyboard, a 190-MHz Intel SA-1100 StrongARM processor, up to 64M of RAM and a 7.5-inch color touch screen. A compact flash slot will accept extra memory or an IBM Corp. microdrive storing up to 340M.

The netBook's single Type II PC Card slot accommodates a modem or LAN adapter. The price will be announced close to the unit's spring delivery date.

Analyst Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies Inc. of Campbell, Calif., said the netBook could compete against handhelds running Microsoft Windows CE. WinCE does not deliver a set of robust applications for mobile e-mail and Internet access, he said.

'The netBook does that via the Epoc-32 operating environment and embedded applications,' he said. 'The interface is simple and straightforward, much like the Palm OS interface for handhelds.'

Palm Computing dominates the U.S. handheld market. Industry analysts such as International Data Corp. of Framingham, Mass., say Palm products outsell WinCE devices by a 3-1 ratio in the United States. In Europe, however, Psion's products dominate.

Contact Psion at 978-371-0310.

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