Imagine a fully-fledged Windows-toting computer that measures just 174 x 84 x 25mm and weighs a mere 430g. You could almost get such a machine into a pocket, albeit that you’d really notice the weight. Well, such a computer exists, as the PsiXpda, and it is yours for £500.
The internal specifications are reasonable enough. Windows XP Professional, Intel’s Atom Z510 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of solid state storage, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and even SIM card support for mobile broadband. One standard sized and one mini sized USB port, microSD card slot and 2.5mm headset slot sit around the edges of the casing. There is a VGA webcam next to the screen.
Some aspects of the ergonomics of use are well thought out. The screen, for example, faces outwards and the PsiXpda can be used with its keyboard hidden away thanks to a pair of mouse button surrogates to the left of the display and a touchpad area to its right. The screen is finger-touch sensitive too.
When you need the keyboard you push the screen away from you and tilt it upwards so that it sits at an angle. The hinges seem solid, and in fact the entire build is quite robust.
The problem comes with actually using the PsiXpda for practical purposes. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do ordinary text-based computing with it. The 5-inch screen just isn’t large enough to display enough of a document to allow serious working on it. The 800 x 480 pixels even have trouble displaying all of some dialogue boxes.
Now, you can rotate the screen so that it sits in tall format, which is good for reading texts and viewing those dialogue boxes, and you can zoom to a resolution of 1024 x 768, but that’s not for regular use unless you really want to squint at the screen.
The keyboard is large in comparison to what you get on smartphones, but tiny in comparison to what comes on notebooks. Were it comprised of individual keys we may have been happy to tap at it, but the flat design is not conducive to squished-hands typing. And on our sample some of the keys needed more pressure than others, which was quite irritating.
So, don’t expect to write long documents or do much other ‘productivity’ type work, but you could use the PsiXpda for media viewing, Web browsing and some light mobile email.
All of which would be OK if the battery life were better. We found that after about half a day’s Wi-Fi connected use the battery needed a recharge. You’d have to be frugal to get through a full day’s usage.
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