---------- ---------- PC Pro Realworld Computing: Paul Lynch - PDAs


Revo and new Travel Modem GSM
Revo and new Travel Modem GSM

At the beginning of October 1999 Psion launched the Revo, an EPOC32 Release 5 product, like the Series 5mx and the Series 7, that should be on sale by the end of October, very soon after the Series 7. The Revo is like a small, slightly more stylish version of the Series 5mx, trying to be a Palm V to the Palm III, but ending up more like a Siena (remember those?) to the Series 3a. The Revo has a much clearer screen, but without backlightling and only 480x160. It also has a 14 hour rechargeable battery, and a non-upgradeable 8 Mb RAM. The only external ports are a power socket, an IR port, and a speaker - there is no CF card slot or even a backup battery.

The indigo and silver colour scheme is attractive, and the 200g shape is approximately two thirds the volume of a Series 5mx, making it slim and light enough to fit comfortably in the breast pocket of a good suit, unlike the Series 5mx. At 36 MHz, the ARM 710 processor is the same as the Series 5mx.

Psion intend this model to sell to "mobile professionals", slightly less technically adept perhaps than their Series 5mx customers. However, the 299.95 price seems excessive for this market, while the Series 5mx is 381.88 and the Palm IIIe should be under 150.

For once the Revo comes with a sampler of software demos on the PsiWin CD, and some developers have released special packages for it. Purple Software have slightly slimmed down versions of some of their products at reduced prices for the Revo, although any Series 5mx software should run. Psion have moved the various programs around on the button bar, but still have basically the same ones - the game is now Cascade rather than Bombs. One new program for the list is Phone - this was written by Purple Software, and is a phone manager that works through IR to manage a phone's list of numbers.

I found the stylus a bit too much like an oversized panel pin for comfort, and the keyboard, although visually remniscent of the excellent Series 5 keyboard, is too stiff with limited travel. I still wish that Psion would adopt a more PC compatible keyboard layout. Setting up the Revo for email was easy, although Demon were (as is often the case) not working at the time. Psion have introduced a new free ISP and portal called Psion.net; unfortunately, they have missed an opportunity, as you are unable to sign up for it from the Revo; you must first make connection from a desktop web browser with Javascript support, as it handles all the signup in one of these detestable pop-up windows.

If it was available for half the price, with a CF slot, backlighting and a better keyboard, I would be much happier with the Revo. As it is, I can't help looking at the similarly priced Palm V and thinking that it meets the declared goals of the Revo far better.


Words and design by:
Paul Lynch
Last updated: March 30, 1999

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