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Psion PSection

Symbian news, software, and Psion Series 5 ROMs

By Mark Esposito
December 1998, issue 25

This month we’re looking at some exciting new software from Atelier and Palmtop BV, with some other great products coming soon. It’s been a long wait for some of this software, including my own Notepad product, but it looks like this Christmas season should be a lot of fun for Psion users. It’s always exciting to have new software, especially when you have some time off to play with it.

Symbian rumors
Since my last article there have been rumors flying around about various companies looking to join the Symbian group in some way, either as owners or technology partners. I’ll report here when there is something more solid. I noted that Philips Consumer Communications is listed now on Symbian’s web page as an EPOC partner, which they are with their Synergy smart phone, the first phone to use the EPOC operating system for its data capabilities. I’ll have a follow-up review on the Synergy smart-phone in the upcoming months. Motorola is listed on Symbian’s company ownership page, so it looks like they are fully onboard. You’re going to be hearing a lot more about Symbian here as things get rolling, and we hear about more EPOC licensees. With Symbian going head-to-head with Microsoft in a more direct way than Psion ever did, I suspect we’ll be talking a lot more about techno-battles and interesting new positioning in the OS war for small mobile devices. Qualcomm has released their new smart-phone called pdQ, which is a CDMA based digital phone that includes the Palm Computing® OS. CDMA over wireless is their technology, so there is no doubt they can make the Palm (formerly PalmPilot) a standard for their CDMA phones. However, with Nokia, Ericsson, and Motorola all using EPOC, I can see a battle coming down the road. There may be a large incentive here for 3Com’s Palm Computing to join Symbian. Using EPOC they could keep their branded OS look and have a better OS for mobile computing. I guess we’ll see soon enough.

New products
Some exciting new products coming by December will be Street Planner 99 from Palmtop BV, which gives street level mapping for various countries (I can’t wait!); PowerBase from Purple Software, a fully relational database application; and my own Notepad, the Todo list/Project manager software. I’m sure there are others, but these three are all larger non-trivial applications that many users have been waiting for for some time.

Series 5 ROM upgrade
Finally, of great interest to most of you online newsgroup junkies is the much talked about ROM upgrade for the Psion Series 5. After a lengthy conversation with the product manager at Psion over all handheld consumer machines, it doesn’t look like we’re going to be seeing a ROM upgrade this year, unless something changes quickly. They couldn’t come out and tell me why, so I can only speculate that they are waiting for some kind of hardware boost to finish a newer machine that would be worth getting excited over. I hope so. They are obviously not just sitting around waiting. Psion has always had plans years out, and they have been employing more and more technical staff. I do wish Psion would do better public relations with its users though. I voiced this opinion to Psion again. Since they were the ones that said there would be a ROM update in ’98, they should be the ones to come out and tell us where the heck it is. C’mon Psion. Would it be so difficult to say "We decided against a ROM upgrade until we finished work on some other additions." That wouldn’t give away any timing of new products. Everyone already knows you are working on new things. The public statement would be important though, because it lets your customers know that you are still on top of it, that you still care. Just a little helpful criticism.

Mark Esposito can be reached via e-mail at

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