Psion – Revo review

cute, cut-down Series 5
Photo of Psion – Revo

As far as pocket-sized computing goes, for something a step up from a cheap databank your choice has always been limited to 3Com’s ubiquitous Palm Pilot family and the keyboard-less Palm-style Windows CE imitators. Now Psion is having another stab at the market with its curvaceous new Revo. It’s not as small as a Palm Pilot, but it packs a potentially bigger punch and has a very useable keyboard to boot.

Psion’s recently launched Series 5mx is a powerful beast but critics would argue it’s just a tad too heavy and large for a shirt pocket. Until now, Psion’s only truly diminutive offering was the Siena. A commercial flop, the Siena was truly tiny but it wasn’t very powerful and it was devoid of any comms facilities apart from the then-optional PC synchroniser package, PsiWin.

Psion appears to have learnt from its Siena experience. The Revo has 8MB of (non-expandable) RAM, the same 36MHz ARM710T processor as the Series 5mx, making it very responsive indeed, yet according to Psion, the built-in NiMH rechargeable batteries will last up to 14 hours. The Revo isn’t quite as small as the Siena, but it’s truly at home in a shirt pocket and at 200g, weight is not an issue. Gone is the tiny Siena screen, to be replaced by a remarkably high-contrast full-width touch screen. In fact, Series 5 owners will be very envious of the Revo’s screen indeed. All this is contained in the now obligatory Psion masterpiece of folding clamshell case engineering. If you don’t like the standard black and silver finish, a rather snazzy blue is also available.

Communications is not entirely compromise-free with the Revo; you won’t find the standard serial port all other Psions are equipped with, but a wireless IrDA port means you can use a suitably equipped GSM phone for accessing your Internet mail and browsing the Web, or you can beam files to other Psions or notebook PCs. If you need faster land line connectivity or you have a non-IrDA compliant phone, there is a £179 V.90 Psion Dacom TravelModem option. Synchronising with either Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes folders on your main PC is supported via a simple serial port docking station – just plug your Revo in and the sync process automatically initialises, topping up the batteries at the same time.

The built in applications will look very familiar to Series 5 users; card file database, Agenda diary, word processor, spreadsheet with graphics, Internet suite and note jotter. There is also a built in GSM SMS message editor and phonebook manager. The world clock remains and has some truly ear-piercing alarm options. There are some annoying changes, however. The spelling checker has disappeared along with the sketch pad application, and fax is not supported. There is no sound recording function, either. A CDROM containing additional applications, along with the much improved latest version of PsiWin is supplied as standard.

Company: Psion

Contact: 0990 134224

Just looking at the Revo and its superb screen proves how very desirable its cute design is. Plus, the Revo has been more carefully shorn of its more expensive siblings' features than the unfortunate old Siena, leaving it a very capable convenience and lifestyle tool for many, though not quite for power users. Only a few irritating omissions, like the lack of a spelling checker, make the Revo a slightly flawed gem.