Dave Moss looks at the Psion 5mx and the Windows NT 4.0 Resource Kit.
Welcome to TechTalk, a new
column that will be keeping you abreast of all thats both hot and new, but not
necessarily both, in the IT world. Ill be covering both hardware and software, so
plenty of scope for expression, and I wont be afraid to tell you whats hot,
and also what actually is a little more on the on the lukewarm side.
My first contender for scrutiny is the Psion 5
looking remarkably similar to the original Psion 5, but sporting a new colour scheme, and
some letters after its name.
Say hello to the Psion
5mx, and to its latest upgrade, the introduction of Java, which appears to be de rigeur
this month, given Suns announcement at JavaOne, that it has managed to persuade 3Com
to plant yet another miniaturised version of it on its PalmPilot. Im starting to
lose count of the number of Java variants out there now.
Back to the item in hand however, the Psion 5mx, and indeed it is remarkably easy to slot
into the hand, however, you always feel in danger of dropping it. You can also, as my wife
discovered, easily trap your fingers between the screen and the lid as it opens. Once open
however, you can settle down to enjoy the usual plethora of applications and utilities
that have combined to help keep the Psion in its position as a market leader in the small
I say small computer because there are so many different sized devices out there these
days, its difficult to slot each one into any particular niche, so Ill settle
for small computer. Typing with the Psion is an acquired art. Some love it; others loathe
it. Some are unimpressed with the lack of key marks that a touch typist would expect to
find on the <F> and <J>, as that makes playing the keyboard more difficult
than it needs be. So, whats new, apart from the Java? Well, theres a new 36MHz
ARM170T processor, and theres 16MB RAM as standard, so no more worries about running
out of space for all those addresses you have been storing. However, if by chance you did
run out of space, theres space for a Psion Memory Disk to augment it, up to the tune
of about 96MB.
Naturally, you might just fancy the idea of swapping data with your desktop system. No
problem here, just install PsiWin, and away you go. The best thing you can do is nip down
to your local retailer and ask to have a look at the new Psion. If roaming connectivity is
your thing, make sure you find out if your mobile is supported as well, and what extras
you might need in order to make that connection. Of course, if you have the right mobile,
you can take advantage of the IrDa-compliant Infrared port for your connections. The same
port can of course be used to fire data at similarly equipped printers, and of course
other Psions, in much the same way as CE devices and Palms can exchange data.
The 5mx will set you back about £429.95, but bear in mind that youll need to pay
out another £19.95 or so for an AC adapter, which youll want to have in order to
augment the admittedly impressive month-long battery life offered by the two AAs fitted as
Ive always been torn over systems the size of the Psion, and I still am. I see them
as great information stores with lots of extras, but try as I might, Ive never been
happy trying to do any sustained work on one. For that, Id prefer to step up a level
to something like Hewlett Packards Jornada 820, an item that Ill be looking at
next month, alongside its baby brother, the 256-colour Jornada 420, and the CapShare 910.
(Ill be testing all of these on the road at Microsofts Tech Ed 99 in
Amsterdam.) Naturally, there are those who swear by the amount of work they can do, and I
am happy to say that I think its a wonderful example of its genre, so why not try
On the software side
this month, Id just like to remind everyone who had forgotten about it, and those
who were not aware of its existence, of the Windows NT 4.0 Resource Kit. I know it has
been around a bit, but it does keep getting updated, and some of the tools are extremely
handy beasts to have at your side.
A mix of command line and GUI applets, theres something in the Resource Kit for
everyone. A bit of advice for the bolder among you: If you decide to use MS Desktops (the
multiple desktop utility) do not make the mistake of trying to put a different Desktop
Theme (yes, they come with the Resource Kit too) onto each desktop you create.
You might fancy a challenge, but unless you want to spend some time trying to fix stuff by
touch (all the text vanished completely as I added the sixth Theme), and prove how well
you know the menus without actually seeing the contents, restrict yourselves to different
wallpaper as a simpler identifier of the desktop you happen to be on.
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