Psion Handheld Computers
By James Grahame
I spent a lot of time wandering European airports in the late 1990s. Puttering around airport electronics shops was a wonderful and costly way to kill time and Psion handhelds repeatedly caught my eye. Sadly, Psion withdrew from the handheld market in July 2001, but many of their sleek little machines live on.
Psion was founded in 1980 as a software company focused on home computers like the Sinclair Spectrum. They began dabbling with handheld technology and eventually developed a handheld operating system called EPOC. A series of quirky little handhelds followed although they're best known today for transforming EPOC into the Symbian OS that powers mobile phones from Nokia, Ericsson, and Motorola.
This is the Revo Plus. It wasn't the largest or most powerful of their line, but it offered a tantalizing balance of respectable features, low price, and reasonable battery life. It was introduced in 2000 and originally sold for $399. Revo Plus came with 16MB RAM, an early version of the Opera web browser, and runs a 36MHz ARM processor. The display is crisp but not backlit in an attempt to stretch battery life (and keep the price down). A souped-up suite of PDA-ish software is included. Standout programs include an Excel-compatible spreadsheet and a serviceable word processor.
Psion handhelds are becoming quite inexpensive on the web, although chances are there's one on eBay that was purchased by a marketing boffin and tossed unused into a desk drawer.