Psion NetBook Pro – one year on

My DesktopAs I have stated in past posts I am a long time Psion devotee having gone through various different machines.

About 18 months ago Psion broke with tradition and brought out a machine that, for the first time, did not use EPOC as it’s operating system. Instead Psion went over to the “dark side” and built a machine using Windows CE. I have been fortunate enough to have been using one of these machine for the past year. I say fortunate but it has taken me a year to get to actually like the machine.

The Netbook Pro looks just like the Netbook and Series 7 that went before it, the only obvious difference is the colour. A closer look shows that it has sprouted a number of new holes for plugging in bit and pieces, including a mini-usb port and a SD/MMC slot.

The reason that it has taken me a while to love the beast is that there is very little useful software provided. I’m sure that Psion would argue that this is because the Netbook Pro is aimed at a vertical market and would have installed software for the market. My view is that even is this is the case the user would still want to be able to use Word and Excel. I understand that later builds of the machine have SheetCE installed.

A better solution however can be found from a German software company called Softmaker who make Office replacements for Windows CE (and others). These are excellent, well featured, with good compatibility with MS Office.

Another area of the software that Psion and Microsoft would do well to improve would be the PDF reader which is simply appalling. The rendering of the text is so poor that it is impossible to read any document reliably. I can only hope that Adobe produce a CE version of Acrobat.

On a more positive note the other thing that has made the Netbook Pro more likeable is that the range of hardware that works with it. I have modem, Wifi and gprs cards for connectibility, SD and compact flash cards for storage and my old PCMCIA Colorgraphic VGA card even works allowing me to hook the unit up to a projector.

The addition of Textmaker, Planmaker and the connectivity cards has made the Netbook Pro a great laptop replacement for me. It is still way too expensive for the average consumer though. At the prices charged by Psion it would be cheaper for someone to buy a laptop.

You’ll find more Psion on my website The Psion File.