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OK, it’s not really a Psion 5, but it’s pretty damned close. This is the Gemini PDA – the first time I’ve seen the ‘PDA’ moniker used on a new product launch for at least a decade. (PDA stands for personal digital assistant for anyone in their 20s or younger.)
The device is a dead spit for the Psion 5, the legendary clamshell PDA of the late nineties, and that’s no coincidence. The device’s makers partnered with Martin Riddiford, who was “instrumental in the design of the Psion PDAs of the 1990s”. Let’s hope he has the rights to the keyboard’s intellectual property too, as the company who got hold of the remains of Psion had a punchy set of lawyers, IIRC.
The Gemini is a fully fledged Android handset, with one or two smart adaptations. There’s a Mac-like dock at the bottom of the screen, allowing you to quickly switch between open apps, which worked very nicely in the minute or two I had to play with it at CES Unveiled.
There are speakers and mics mounted at either end of the handset, too, so you can make phone calls in any orientation – you cannot hold the phone upside down. Either way, however, you’re going to stand out with this brick glued to your face! A hands-free kit is essential, in my view.
So what about that keyboard? It would be unfair to judge based on two minute’s prodding at a crowded CES stand, but my first impression was that it didn’t quite have the quality of its Psion forebears.
Nevertheless, plenty of nostalgics have seen enough to convince them this is a winner, with the Gemini raising more than a million dollars from its crowdfunding campaign and with devices due to ship to backers shortly. At $399, it’s not blisteringly expensive for a phone, either.
We look forward to giving one a proper test.
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