I purchased both a Psion Netbook (£899) and a Sony PCG-141C (£1449) and ran with both of them for two years before deciding to put pen to paper or, in the modern idiom, fingers to keyboard.
They both have a place in the hierachy of things and any comparison could be subjective. I know which I prefer so I will try to keep my preferences until the end of the ‘conclusions’ section.
The major advantage of the Psion is its touch-screen operation which makes it exceedingly fast to find your way around. The major advantage of the Sony is that it is fully Windows compatible and will run practically all the programs you can run on your desktop – subject, of course, to memory.
Both machines have a PCMCIA slot for a network card or modem and will both access the Internet – both e-mail and web.
Trying to get efficient action out of Sony is no different to trying to get efficient action out of Psion!
The size/weight ratio of each machine is pretty similar.
Batterywise the Psion has an advantage in that it will last approximately seven hours between charges and the Sony only two hours, if you are lucky.
To run from cold, and then to load and run, at the same time, a diary, word processor and database on the Sony took just under 300 seconds seconds whereas to do the same with the Psion took less than 3 seconds.
The Sony has a hybernation mode but the Psion doesn’t need it. I will explain. After turning the Sony to hybernation mode, and just turning the Psion off, I waited a minute or so and turned both back on. After pressing the “unhybernate” key on the Sony, it took 115 seconds to warm up. After turning the Psion on, it took 1/10th of a second (or less) to come on line. Both had, of course, the diary, word processing program and database up and running.
Other features of each.
This is a fully fledged computer although it has rather a squashed screen. I found it particularly useful building up my new website when out and about as I never seemed to have time to do it at home.
Floppy drives and CDROM drives are optional extra’s and would be required if one wasn’t going to network this with your desktop. The price above didn’t include these as they were not needed. However I did need to buy a Network card so I could network it with my desktop.
This uses the EPOC operating system and, although it is not Windows compatible, it does comes with Windows software which, when connected to your desktop, will automatically transfer data in the Windows data style that you require.
One can load a number of data files with each program and a single tap on the program icon will move between data files. This is extremely useful if working on several reports or spreadsheets at any one time.
Because it is so quick to start, you can set the Psion to auto-turn off if on battery to any time from one minute. Three minutes is an ideal time I find. One can buy a docking station for the Psion which makes it easier to attach to a desktop.
If you really need a Windows portable, or want something you can take to a conference to run Powerpoint files into a projector, then the Sony is a must. But if you travel a lot and need to keep up to date with your reports or want instant access to your diary or contact database – and I mean instant access – then the Psion should be a serious consideration.
As for my personal preferences – I have sold my Sony PCG-141C and still use my Psion Netbook.
Now, if some kind reader, with lots of money, would like to buy me a new Psion Windows CE Netbook, I’d be a very happy bunny.