Oregon Scientific – Osaris review

Psion Series 5 clone
Photo of Oregon Scientific – Osaris
£200 for 4MB, £250 for 8MB

Psion recently launched an updated version of its Series 5 palmtop computer, but although Psion’s Epoc operating system is not as widespread as Windows CE, it is licensed to one or two other manufacturers. Oregon Scientific would appear to be one such manufacturer, because the Osaris not only runs Epoc, but it also looks very similar to the Psion Series 5 machine.

But there are some quite major differences between the two machines. The most obvious of these are the size of the touch-sensitive screen – a tiny 320 x 200 with 16 grey levels on this model compared with Psion’s 640 x 240 – and the keyboard. This latter, although similar to Psion’s excellent keyboard for the Series 5, does not slide out quite so cleverly and has a less convincing action. In other respects, though, this is a Series 5 in disguise.

Because the Osaris runs the Epoc operating system, it’s compatible with Psion’s applications, and it comes with Word, Sheet, Data, Agenda, Sketch, Jotter, and also some extras such as a calculator, sketchpad and comms program. Most of the main apps can share their data with the various PC office programs from Microsoft, Lotus et al, and connection and transfer software for Windows 95/98 and NT4.0 users is supplied with the Osaris. There’s also an e-mail and messaging suite supplied, which can be used with the infra-red port or with an appropriate modem.

Additional memory – and possibly other devices in the future – can be added using the device’s CompactFlash slot. In use the machine works very well, with the stylus and touch-sensitive screen complementing a keyboard that is far superior to those of many PDAs on the market today. The only possible problem could be that the standard 4MB of RAM might not be sufficient for some add-on software, so we’d probably opt for the 8MB version given the choice.

Company: Oregon Scientific

Contact: 01628 826688


Verdict
Running on two AA-sized batteries, and lasting considerably longer on them than most Windows CE machines on the same power source, this new PDA from Osaris offers a cheaper alternative to users wanting compatibility on the move. It's not quite a Psion Series 5, but then it doesn't cost quite as much as a Psion Series 5.