Psion Netbook vs Sony PCG-141C


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.

Support

Trying to get efficient action out of Sony is no different to trying to get efficient action out of Psion!

Differences

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.

Sony

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.

Psion

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.

Conclusion

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.

Andrew

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  1. #1 by Andrew on Wednesday, 8 December 2004 - 12:41 pm

    Here is a review by Sandra Vogel for ZDNet.Psion NetBook Pro: a first look October 03, 2003Psion Teklogix has announced the NetBook Pro, a familiar-looking device with some brand-new capabilities.The newly announced NetBook Pro is, according to manufacturer Psion Teklogix, a unique task-oriented mobile computing device aimed at the rapidly growing mobile CRM (Customer Relationship Management) market. The tasks involved are sales force automation, field service management and field inspection/data collection. Psion Teklogix is the company formed in late 2000 when Psion plc merged with Canadian company Teklogix precisely to focus on this sector.Psion Teklogix’s NetBook Pro: descended from the Series 7 and NetBook, but running Windows CE .Net 4.2 and aimed at corporate mobile workforces.The NetBook Pro bears a striking visual resemblance to the old Psion Series 7, the consumer-orientated device that in late 1999 set the mobile computing world ablaze with its small form factor, long battery life, colour screen and eminently usable keyboard. Some hailed it then as the future of mobile computing. The Series 7 was followed by the NetBook, a more advanced unit based around the same hardware design but aimed at the mobile enterprise market — just like the new NetBook Pro.Goodbye EPOC, hello Windows CE .NETThe NetBook Pro yet again adopts the same hardware design, being based around a sub-A4 clamshell form factor. However, there are improvements and changes pretty much everywhere else. Fans of the earlier devices will immediately notice the replacement of Psion’s old EPOC operating system with Microsoft’s Windows CE .NET 4.2. This is the same OS that forms the core of Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC, and is Microsoft’s base embedded platform for small-footprint devices.The key benefit of switching to CE .NET 4.2, says Psion Teklogix, is the development and application integration opportunities it provides. Notably, it supports industry standards like 802.11b, Bluetooth, GSM/GPRS and CDMA. None of these capabilities are actually built into the Netbook Pro itself, but its PC Card, Compact Flash Type II and SD/MMC (SDIO) card slots allow them to be added. There is the added bonus that applications developed for Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC should run — albeit not at full screen size. Psion Teklogix product manager Harvey Roberts would not be drawn further on this, other than to say: “Every third party application we have tried to date has run without difficulty”. To further add functionality, the NetBook Pro incorporates the JEM-CE implementation of Java.Features and pricingWeighing in at 1.1kg, the NetBook Pro’s clamshell lid lifts to reveal a usable keyboard and an 16-bit colour SVGA (800 by 600 pixel) touch-sensitive display. It has 128MB of RAM and 32MB of ROM, 20MB of which is available for end user storage. USB, serial and infrared ports are provided, while the processor is an Intel XScale PXA255 running at 400MHz.The software suite includes Pocket On Schedule for personal information management, Internet Explorer 6, WordPad for word processing and Windows Media Player. ActiveSync is provided for direct PC connectivity, although as the NetBook Pro’s target markets are largely field-based, it’s envisaged that this will generally be ignored in favour of over-the-air data exchange. Battery life is estimated to be at least eight hours, with a backup battery keeping data safe for ten days. The NetBook Pro will be available from the end of October, at the expected price of £1,152 (inc. VAT). This is close to the $1,500 US dollar price, even though all NetBook Pros are being manufactured in Wales and so should incur minimal shipping costs within the UK).If you’re thinking of buying a NetBook Pro to replace your notebook, note that Psion has no intention of directly supporting individual consumers at this stage. The official word is that it continually evaluates the suitability of products for multiple markets. However, Psion officially abandoned the consumer space late in 2001, and has made no attempt to re-enter it since. This means you almost certainly won’t be able to pop to a high-street electrical store and buy a NetBook Pro. Harvey Roberts admits, though, that there is nothing to stop online retailers selling single units if they choose to, so anyone who really wants to try this device probably just needs to do a little research.Andrew

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