I bought mine used off Ebay and it has been excellent.
The battery life is fantastic and runs of two AA batteries. A handy battery meter is built into the device and is pretty accurate too.
The screen is the best part. This has to be the best monochromatic screen I have seen on a PDA. Its sharp, clear and ahs a wide range of adjustable contrasts. The touch screen is a joy to use and doesn't loose its accuracy with time unlike other products. The handy printed buttons on the screen are well designed for instant access to many functions like copy and paste.
The keyboard is a joy to type on and two hand typing is possible for thise with slimier fingers. The keyboard is responsive and well built and thre is no key rattle. It features many of the key found on a standard PC keyboard
The speaker is good and it also features a built in dictaphone too. There is also a RS232 socket to link about to a PC and Infra-red is available to transfer data between machines.
There is a wide range of software available for this device and many of them are now free as teh device is no longer made.
The only bad points is the dubious build quality. The paint work tends to fade quickly with use and the folding screen can cause the ribbon cable to crack and therefore loose the use of teh screen. Though replacement cables are available from places like Ebay and can be fitted quite easily for the technically minded.
There is also a CF card bay that will allow you to increase the amount of memory in the device.
A joy to use and its s a pity they don't make them anymore. A good ebay bargain.
As I write this you may have some trouble finding one of these babies in the shops - Psion no longer makes them moving out of the PDA market for good - more's the shame! I wouldn't be without the 5MX. I don't want to go over ground covered in reviews of the Series 5 - the MX is simply a lot faster - particulalrly for searching through databases. It also syncs very well to my PC through PsiWin - this keeps my MS Outlook diary and contacts right up to date every day. There is also a lot of software out there to use on the Series 5 - a great free chess programme, and lots of freeware and shareware. With a flashdisk port you will not run out of storage space - the 16MB inbuilt will pack a lot of data. The touchscreen is effective, and I think I am right in saying a little brighter than earlier Series 5 Psions. OK - now the downside - it ain't windows CE or anything like - but the EPOC operating system is renowned as a reliable platform all the same, and is logically arranged in all the main applications in ROM - menus on the top. I use my Psion in all my office work - type a report using the excellent keyboard, record conversations, get beaten at chess....
Where would I be without my Psion 5? I'm not sure, but I'll know where I've been through the Personal Organiser's Agenda, which looks like a little diary. It can be customised to look the way you want it to, and you can view by day, by week or by "To Do" list (the annual view is pretty useless, but is an option.) Or you can combine the "To Do" list to show in your day/week view, which is handy. Entries can be timed, alarmed or can incorprate lengthy memos or reminders behind them. You could even draw a sketch in the Sketch software and attach it to an entry. I use the Agenda function daily, and I'd be lost without it, so it's just as well you can back up the Series 5 to a PC through the supplied Winlink software and cable. This has saved my bacon on more than one occassion. I also use the Word Processor on a daily basis to keep a diary. You can password protect this from prying eyes, and I find the keyboard quite easy to use. Mae West said "Keep a diary and one day it will keep you", and there's something I find fascinating looking up what I was doing this day five years ago. (Usually I find I was sitting on the bog tapping into my Psion.) Again, you can copy anything you write to a PC and convert it to popular software applications like MS Word or Lotus Wordpro. I've found it to work perfectly every time. There's also a very basic spreadsheet. If you're an Excel wizard, it will no doubt frustrate you, but I've found it more than adequate for household accounts or working out my fixed odd accumulator bets when they come in (about once a year). The other application I use daily is the Database, where I store everything from names and addresses to recipes to books I want to read, wines I want to buy, beers I want to try. You can copy and paste from different applications to and from the database, and across all the other functions. The alarm system on my Psion also wakes me with
"soft chimes" for work every morning (I hear it, the wife doesn't) and because I'm an international jet setter, I use the map function to work out where exactly Oslo is before I land in it (I also use the spreadsheet as a currency calculator). I then record musings on how weird Europeans are on Word. The calculator occassionally comes in handy, but I don't think I've ever used the Sketch (similar to Paint) application. Bit of a gimmick, I think. I do play the Bombs game, and have downloaded things like Tetris from various internet dedicated sites. I did once try to connect the Psion to the Internet via a modem, but failed. I'm not sure if it's worth the effort to be honest. I simply download stuff to my laptop and then copy to the Psion through Winlink. (it has an infra-red link, but again I've never used it). Other points? The back light drains power, so I seldom use it but it's good to have this function when you want it. The touch sensitive screen? I wouldn't miss it, and the screen does get messy - espescially if you like crisps. I had a Series 3 before the Series 5 and the big difference is the keyboard which is a vast improvment on the 3. Seriously, I never leave home without my Psion and can't understand Palm users (although I suppose the newest ones can store dodgy images from the Net. I can understand that!) It's my constant companion and was Best Man at my wedding. I honestly can't live without it.
I must say that when I decided that I needed a mobile computing device, the idea of using a PDA never crossed my mind. I always thought of them as mere organisers, unable to cope with real documents. The Psion 5mx has proved me wrong. The first thing to note is the speed of the units. Apps load near instantly and there is no boot-time. The OS helps in this respect as well. It is an uncluttered interface that gives you quick access to what you need. You can be typing a document within seconds. The programs included are basic versions of the standard office tools (word-processor, spreadsheet etc). They provide the functionality needed to get most documents done, although I sometimes find that I need to do a little extra editing on my desktop machine. The included PsiLink software does a good job of converting your documents into MS Office format, and this too is a quick and easy process. There is a good deal of freeware and shareware software available to download too. For example, I have found a very functional graphing package that I use frequently. It integrates seamlessly into the Psion environment. The unit itself is compact and light enough for easy transportation, although it is a little too long to be put in a pocket. The included pen used to operate the touch-sensitive screen is held in a rather flimsy mechanism, and mine no longer holds it firmly. Otherwise, build quality is good. The screen, whilst colourless, is very clear and readable, and the optional backlight is fantastic, although it does drain the battery rather fast. You don't really need this light on though, unless you are using the unit in near pitch dark. I have to say that the biggest disappointment for me is the keyboard. Whilst the keys are reasonably large, they are too stiff, and require a very definite press. For quick typers, you will find that you will miss out letters frequently. My typing speed is severely diminished due to the
keyboard. This really is a true alternate to a laptop computer, if all you are after is composing documents. It isn't that pretty, but it certainly gets the job done!
Ok. The first thing to say is this is not a PDA for everyone. I bought mine on a number of merits; price, internet access, full keyboard, and programmable. If you want a fancy gadget more than a practical device, go blow a fortune on a flashy pointer-only, colour screen device that requires the national grid to do anything lengthy. I am an IT professional, and I decided on some quite reasonable criteria for a PDA if I was to own one. Wanting a proper keyboard (that was actually useable) severely narrowed down my choice of machines, and the price restriction pretty much helped complete my choice for me. The screen on the 5mx is not brilliant, but as much as you could expect from a 16 greyscale display, and well backlit if you plan to go caving with it! A handy screen zoom is also built in that is software independant. No matter how nice a colour screen would be, they are battery leeches. I looked at the Nokia 9210 communicator as my other option, a nice integrated option, but I didn't want a house brick for a phone. I have no plans to have to carry that behemoth everywhere. Besides, the keyboard size was far too small. The 5mx keyboard is, in my opinion, more than reasonable, and being a man with fingers akin to a pound of sausages, the fact that I lose little in typing speed on it is a testament to its design. The built in software is great. Using the data cable or the IRDA port, I can pass documents, spreadsheets, etc between my 5mx and my PCs (home and work) very quickly and with complete confidence. I bought a Nokia 6210 phone with my 5mx as a bundle (£315 for the lot, brand new !) This phone works great with the 5mx for getting on the internet. Bundled with the 5mx is a copy of (the potential IE5 killer) Opera web browser. I can get onto the net very easily with this and have few problems. If I can do it on my home PC, I can do it on my Psion. In terms of programming, the built in OPL program
ming language is fun to use BASIC derivative, with a very good set of libraries and built-ins to back it up. In addition, if you go to the Symbian web site, you can download development kits for other languages such as C and Java. For power, two Duracel AA batteries see me right for quite a while, and a lithium button size battery is the backup supply. If you play with it lots (like I first did) you can drain the batteries quite quickly. Once you know your machine though, they will last you ages. The Psion has loads of other neat features ( touch screen with a pointing pen, which can be used with downloadable handwriting recognition software), a built in dictaphone, Compact Flash memory compatible, and a good many free applications downloadable from the net (including TomeRaider). If you want a PDA, you really must think it through first. This one won't set the world alight, but as a busy IT guy who "knows the ropes", I am very happy with my choice. It does exactly what I want, reliably, and fast.
I am writing this opinion as I have just discovered what I consider to be a significant flaw in an otherwise excellent machine. I was a fan of Psion machines having had a Series 3 originally, which fell apart after admittedly some rough use. I upgraded to the 5mx and was determined to protect my machine and so bought the ultra-tough Palm-Tec hard case. I was then surprised to suffer from a broken screen cable after 18months of ownership and annoyed to find this costs £100 to fix, as Psion will replace the whole screen. They will only guarantee this for 3 months, so I am left with the impression that the cable breaks every 18 months so making the machine prohibitively expensive. I have spoken to several other owners who have experienced similar problems and read of others on Psion Usenet groups. You have been warned, perhaps I have been unlucky but there are no guarantees that you will fare any better.
I have abandoned my personal organiser. It has bleeped its last bleep. It sits now in a quiet corner of a forgotten drawer, its batteries slowly fading, its lifeless screen folded in redundancy. A Psion resting in peace. I had lusted for that Psion. Every address of every person I had ever met was logged in there. Their children’s names, hobbies, birthdays – cross referenced, of course, to the diary, with special bleeps for the day, and even more special advance reminder bleeps. My first Psion, my beloved Psion series 3, had an entire section of the database reserved for research material. As a lawyer I had crammed it with every conceivable reference to a case, book, or a statute, all dated with court appearances suitably bleeped. It was perfect. And very flashy. Sitting on my bench in court, I was a master of the wigs. Tuned in, wired up. I was the most technologically advanced lawyer the world had ever seen. I moved on to the Psion series 5. Somehow it was not so convenient to set up the research information. The database function didn’t quite operate in the same way. You could log the same information in the word processing programme, but searching for that case or that reference was not quite so convenient. The addresses were as just as easy to handle and it sychchronised, after a fashion, with my PC, which was loaded with the simply brilliant Lotus Organiser. But somewhere, in my technological heart, a technological bypass occurred and an enthusiasm faded. In the end, it was the P.C.’s Lotus Organiser that did for my Psion. It kept reminding me of my battered old filofax. It had colour, it was stunningly simple, easy to read, a doddle to navigate, it linked diary entries to word documents to web sites to research notes to an to an address book and even to your horoscope. It had an almost tactile quality. There was even room to feed in photographs of my chi
ldren, in full colour! Each time I returned to the small dull screen of the Psion, each time I went to navigate between applications or to enter urgent information via the small but beautiful keyboard, I became less and less enthusiastic. One fateful, day, dulled by the grey Psion screen, I pulled down my old battered filofax. It still had the children’s photographs, cut to size to fit a transparent credit card holder, It had a sections for research material, a post-it notes pad, three year calendars, great diary displays. It felt good. It was tactile. The addresses were long out of date but I quickly printed off updated address from Lotus Organiser – they even printed out on filofax size pages which they fitted neatly into the brightly coloured A to Z index. The Psions fate was sealed. I can wait. I can wait until someone, hopefully Lotus, develops a hand held electronic filofax, in full colour, with tactile hand written entry of data, room to hold post it notes and family photographs, colour index tabs for switching between sections or applications and as user friendly as Lotus Organiser. I can wait. I made a note in my filofax, just to remind me that it might happen sometime, soon.
...shame about pretty much everything else, really. I've been a Palm user for several years, but decided that I was spending so much time commuting I should put it to good use, and do some writing. Graffiti is fine for quick notes, but for anything more you really need a keyboard. I considered buying one of those dinky foldaway Palm keyboards, but when I tried it out it just wasn't practical. So my options were limited. The Psion 5mx seemed like a good choice. It was far cheaper than pretty much any direct rival (eg. the Jornada) and was the only one of its kind I found with a keyboard that was large enough to use comfortably. So my wife bought me it for Christmas, and I was delighted with it. Now that I've lived with it for a while, my feelings are definitely mixed. In common with a lot of people, I have had endless problems with synchronisation -- especially when I compare it to the simplicity of synching a Palm. At first all seemed fine and dandy, but then I began to notice that more often than not, after one synch the connection would simply fail, with rebooting as the only option to re-establish it. That quickly becomes tiresome. Since I didn't want to be carrying around two handhelds I ditched my Palm and copied my extensive contacts info over to Outlook (blecch!) so I could synch it with the Psion (since the Psion has no desktop software of its own). When I'd done it I found that contacts can't be categorised -- not the end of the world you might think, but with a lot of addresses to manage, it's hard to live without. The shareware/freeware market for the Psion 5 is far more limited than that of the Palm -- probably because it isn't as popular in the US. So I've found it hard to source the sort of add-ons that might have added the functionality that I require. And Psion's back-up is lamentable -- the Web site hasn't been updated in months and it looks to me like they'
;ve pretty much given up on developing the 5mx at all. The EPOC operating system is undoubtedly powerful but the Psion's working environment is clunky and confusing -- it's rather like having to work through Explorer all the time. Apps and files are all mixed in together and it takes some time to train yourself to maintain orderly file systems. I've heard a lot about, but haven't experienced (fortunately) the flimsiness of the screen, having invested in a hard case by Palm-Tec. Better to spend £25 now that £100+ to replace screen. The good news? Well, that keyboard is great and I can quite happily write long pieces while squashed into my train seat. So it is, at least, fit for the main purpose for which I chose it. The spell-check is pretty lame but to be honest I leave that until I can import it into Word. So the conclusion is...well, if you want to do a lot of typing on the move and can't afford a laptop, then this is a good choice. If you want an easy-to-use, simple to synchronise, fully-featured PIM then look elsewhere.
I have sold Psion products for nearly 11 years right from the psion II. For along time Psion were untouchable, your choice was either a laptop PC or a filofax. However as Palm, handspring have moved in, Psion is beginning to lose its uniqueness. Firstly the Psion Series 5mx is an great product for the 30 something buisness person, who is either upgrading from a previous Psion, or who requires great computing power. The screen is large enough, and with good resolution. Has a backlight for dim light conditions. If you are writing your life story, best selling novel or whatever the built in 3/4 size keyboard is a very comfortable way of inputting text when compared with the grafitti style of the palm etc. If you are handling huge databases or wanting to handle spreadsheets then again the Psion 5mx is for you However, a large part of owning a PDA is size, ease of use and ease of connection. Regretably the Psion begins to fall on these points. The psion is a serious machine, and as such is not quite as easy to use as the palms. But worse is to come. I receive regular comments on the Psiwin program that is included with the 5mx (to link to a PC). Not as user friendly as the palms hot sync. Perhaps worse is Psions technical support. With such a powerful machine and with some many connection options now days, I would expect the average user to need some sort of help. (The manuals are good, but sometimes they dont quite cover what you need to know) Psions technical support is either FAQs on their web site, a premium rate line £1 per min, or a credit card help line £14 per problem. Not terribly user friendly. To summarise a good powerful machine, perhaps a little more than just a PDA, but becareful if you want to do a little more with it, unless you know what you are doing it could cost you. Info for people with Psion users who have problems who live in London. Psion have a drop in centre in West London, you book an appointment and th
ey fix on the spot or same day (if parts in stock), all you need is guarantee. Have not got phone number now but if your interested I will add at later date, leave a comment if you would like me to update with the drop in centre details.
I've been a fan of Psion for a long time (at least 6 years). Starting off with a Series 3a I used it all the time and downloaded many great applications from the Internet. After a couple of years Psion brought out the Series 5 which I decided to buy. The touchscreen was really useful and made navigation so much easier. The drawing tool, although not much practical use was quite a clever utility for playing with, or including your signature in word files, should you wish to! I used to type quite a few assignments on the reasonably sized keyboard, however, it just wasn't quite big enough to touchtype (which is quite fortunate for me as I can't!). Still, the keys were nice and responsive. The most useful application for me was the spreadsheet which acted just like Excel. The screen was big enough to see in most conditions and the backlight incredibly useful, although it did eat batteries and made a strange buzzing sound when it was turned on. Having a power supply was almost essential. On average my batteries only lasted around 8 hours, but my Dad, who also had one managed to get around 15. This seems quite strange as he always left his turned on. My Dad seemed to have more problems with his Psion than me. The first problem was his pen socket. The spring mechanism decided to fail and this appears to be quite common for the Series 5. After having the unit replaced the next problem occurred. His screen looked as though the liquid crystal display had broken. Half the screen was visible and the rest did nothing. We worked out that it was probably the contacts where the hinges on the case are, and that there was probably a broken cable. Being out of the guarentee it would apparently cost £100 (I think that's right) or so just to have the screen replaced. I didn't really use mine much at the time so then I let him use mine. Within a few months that screen also broke! He d
idn't drop it, snap the hinges or anything you would expect to break the screen, but it didn't work all the same. It seems an awful lot of money to spend on replacing a screen, when you can't tell if something else is going to fail afterwards. In the end he bought a Psion Revo and has been pleased withh this. I've had a look at it and there are a few things I don't like. The screen isn't backlit which I find difficult to see sometimes. The keyboard is also a lot firmer than on the Series 5 which makes it harder to use. I type reasonably quickly and find it difficult with the Revo keyboard, not only because it's smaller. The docking cradle is a good idea - the Series 5 still has the plug-in cable which has been around since the Series 3. So anyway, he's happy and I don't have a PDA anymore. I've been considering buying another, but I'm not entirely sure what to buy. I don't think it'd be a Revo for the reason's stated above, but the Series 5, although good, seems a lot of money for what it is. As far as I can see there are 2 alternatives - 1. A Palm device or 2. A handheld PC. I'm not sure about either of these at the moment for both features and price. Coming back to the Series 5, whilst I had one I was very pleased with its performance and features, but for £360 it's quite expensive. I'll have to have a look at what other Dooyooers think before I make my mind up on another PDA.
I upgraded from a 3c and I'm pleased I did. If you're considering the same ponder on the following: Pros: - you can sync your diary to MSOutlook and should you wish post it on the web - the database has more detail - separate spaces for home details & work details for example - the To-Do lists are more detailed and easier to move through - you can use it for email and surfing the net - the screen is touch sensitive Cons - consider the following questions: 1. Do you have a large database of contacts?? - the database on your old psion is not easily converted onto the 5mx, if you use a programme such as Act or Key Maximizer you can convert through this, or convert through Excel (I think, haven't tried it) 2. How familiar are you with the keyboard functions in the agenda? - they are different on the 5mx you will be relearning how to move between dates, cutting pasting (as Buffy says 'no biggie' but just be aware) - jumping between dates is no longer using the cntrl J and entering a date but via a month by month calendar, personally I find this slower 3. Will you lose the stylus? - I don't keep mine with me, i keep dropping it, you can easily live without it however 4. How big is your pocket? - somewhat bigger but it was probably weighing down your jacket anyway 5. Do you need net access or the dictaphone capability? - if not....
Great machine - keyboard input beats all other pen devices hands-down for speed and efficiency. Recently thought of changing to a sexy IPaq - but once I tried it out for 2 weeks quickly swapped back to the 5Mx. Pity about the synch capability though - and Lotus Notes support is really poor. Batery life is very good, although rechargeables must be the way to go these days. Screen is good, but sometimes suffers from poor glare. It never crashes (unlike some OS's I could mention).
I did quite a bit of research before buying my 5MX. My husband already had a Jornada (really nice little PDA complete with colour screen) but I needed a lot of the software that is only written for the EPOC based PDA's. That said, the 5MX was the only real choice as I see it - it had a really nice keyboard which is easy to use with a little practice, and the upgradeable memory was the best selling point. It has an integral 16Mb's and has a slot for flash cards, so you are limited only by the size and number of the flash cards that you buy. It also uses standard AA batteries so if your batteries run flat away from home or office, it is simplicity itself to be able to replace them and continue with your work. It is a little on the bulky side however. The screen is easy to read and a really good size, and the touch screen feature makes it very easy to work quickly. Having said that, it is not as bright as some of the other PDA's, and here's hoping that Psion will get their act together and produce a colour screen on the 5 series. I don't use the pointer as often you might think - my fingernail, or the back of a pen work just as well, and make no marks on the screen. Just as well, because the spring clip holding the pointer in is a bit temperamental. The supplied software interfaces well enough with the Windows products (Outlook and Excel) but going though PsiWin (the interface program with a desktop PC) is tedious and frustrating as the docking cable is fiddly and difficult to latch properly. Even more annoying is if you are trying to back up the Psion (can take over 20 minutes) and the Psion decides to switch off. It doesn't count interfacing as active use, so if you have set the machine to go off after a certain length of idle time (wise if you want to save batteries) and forget to disable that, you end up having to start again. I have contacted the Psion help service online twice, and their response has bee
n quick and helpful. I haven't needed any repairs yet, so I can't comment on how good that side of the service department is. Does anyone out there have any experience with repairs? I haven't been that impressed with the battery life - averaging 12 to 16 hours if not using the backlighting, and decided to switch to rechargeable batteries because the battery costs were getting ridiculous. The bad points : I have already had to do several soft resets, as it has a nasty habit of freezing for no obvious reason. The battery compartment is a bit rickety, and feels like the cover will break off each time I open it. However, I have to say that I like my Psion, and tend to take it around everywhere with me. It has become a lot more than just my work PDA. Just remember, like all computers, BACKUP REGULARLY. One of those soft resets lost me a file that I wasn't even working on !! UPDATE !!! (31 aug 2001) I see that Psion have decided to scale back their handheld computer market significantly in order to concentrate on mobile phones. That means that there are unlikely to be any more Psions made, certainly in the forseeable future. Unless you have significant investment in Psion software, I would not recommend that you get a Psion handheld now - there is virtually no possibility of upgraded ones coming out. Pity