With Revo, Psion crosses the pond on third wave

With Revo, Psion crosses the pond on third wave

By Richard W. Walker

GCN Staff

At first glance, it looks like a palm-size PC. But open up its clamshell case and there's a 53-key QWERTY keypad and a 1.8- by 4.8-inch monochrome display.

It's the Revo from Psion Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of British maker Psion PLC.

The Revo's keys are just under a half-inch square, making it more touch-typable than the typical aspirin-size keys found on many other handhelds and personal digital assistants.

With the Revo, Psion wants to tap into the trend toward wireless PDA-type devices and away from mere PC connectivity.

Revo users can get e-mail via a compatible mobile phone linked to the device by infrared or with Psion's travel modem. Its e-mail interface uses a familiar format with in-box and out-box folders.

The $399 Revo is also Internet-compatible for remote dial-up access using the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol or Point-to-Point Protocol over TCP/IP.


Psion's little Revo features a decent-size keyboard, 8M of RAM and rechargeable NiMH batteries. It sells for $399.


'Clearly the Palm [from Palm Inc.] is the ideal and ubiquitous device if what you want is basically contacts and agenda synchronized to your PC,' Psion president George Grey said. 'But I think Psion's vision is moving more into the future. The first wave of PDAs were standalone; the second wave is the Palm, PC-connected devices; and the third wave is devices that are connected to the Internet.'

Psion will focus efforts to market the Revo to customers who want more functionality than is available on pen-based handhelds, Grey said.

'You need a keyboard to enter data,' he said. 'Typically, users are inputting data when they're away from a PC, which we believe is a growing number, either taking notes or writing e-mail.'

Grey described the Revo, which comes with 8M of RAM, as light and as easy to pocket as a pen-based handheld but said it has 'the benefits of a keyboard that's usable for most people. Obviously, if you've got very big fingers, it is too small. But most people are actually able to achieve a reasonable typing speed on the machine.'

Psion handhelds have held the leading share of the PDA market in Europe, though Palm devices have recently caught up in sales volume.

The company is making a big push in the United States, linking with CompUSA Inc. of Dallas to sell the handhelds nationwide.

'We're hoping by end of year to have much stronger presence in the United States,' Grey said.

Psion also is targeting the government market.

The company is collaborating with systems integrators to offer application-specific Psion products to federal agencies, Grey said.

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