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The Revo

In which delusional has a closer look at his Revo.

The time has come

Well, after owning a Revo for the past month or so, I decided it was time for me to tell you all about it, the highs and lows, the good times and the bad. We’ve been through a lot, have my Revo and I. It was difficult, but we stuck together and out we pop at the end, ready for whatever the world has to throw at us…

Anyway, I’d best get on with the hard facts to start with, so we all start from an equal footing. Therefore, the first thing you should read, before carrying on, is my ‘Why a Revo?’ article. Then I won’t have to repeat myself, but please don’t worry if I do, cause I’m just like that.

In the beginning

The Revo box is clearly aimed at young ‘with it’ people, and the emphasis is also towards it being an Organiser, rather than a handheld computer. This is carried through inside the Revo box. There is no ‘manual’; there is a ‘handbook’. To be honest, I’m used to PC’s that come with no more than a Windows CD to get you started. So the fact that the manual contains info on pretty much everything your Revo starts off its life with came as a shock to me, after years of thinking of help as something that came on a screen.

However, the first thing you do with the handbook is put it to one side and grab the Revo, which is sitting staring at you with it’s sleek lines and flashy bit of silver. It almost seems like a sacrilege to remove it, but you do and you think this is one cool machine, especially when you first open it and see the hinges fold around in that classic style.

What came next

Next, out came the docking station, and in to it was plugged the charger. Now, the really nice thing about the docking station is that the charger plugs into the serial connector, so the power is fed through the docking station. This means that you just drop the Revo on the station, and it starts charging. Also, you only have one wire on your desk. No more messing with wires after that initial foray to put the plug into the port, another nice feature.

PsiWin is the same as for other Psion machines. It does its job well, although converting more than simple documents is unpredictable. Although I haven’t had any problems with it, it seems to depend on your PC as to how stable the software is.

Inbuilt, but not inbred

Let’s take a peek at what you get when you switch the Revo on. Most of the 5MX software has been ported successfully over to the Revo, although the silkscreen buttons have been rearranged for the target market. However, Word, Sheet and Data are still there, tucked away on the extra’s bar.

  • Agenda and the Today View

    Agenda is as good as always, and very intuitive to use. You can make Agenda as complicated or as simple as you want, with all the ‘power’ features hidden behind ‘More’ buttons. Thus, you can do almost anything you would need to, with repeating entries, alarms and so on.

    The Today View of the system screen is one of the most useful features of the Revo, summarizing the day’s events and to-dos. The view also includes quick access to battery, link and memory status. As with all great things you soon start to wonder how you did without it.

  • Contacts and Phone

    Contacts is a new application for the Revo, and a very useful one. Instead of having to store your contacts in a database, you now have a program designed for the job. However, I do sometimes miss the functionality of a database, as search criteria seem to be limited. For example, I tried searching for a phone number I knew was there, and the entry wasn’t found. Sorting is also limited, although you wouldn’t tend to use other methods than the ones given. However, the application is still very good, and does its job well.

    Phone is another new application. It’s designed to manage the contacts on your mobile phone (hence the name). If you have a compatible IR mobile phone (see Psion’s site for which are), then you can use the Revo for managing your phone’s memory, which is much easier than fiddling with keys on a phone, especially as Phone integrates with Contacts.

  • Time, Calc and Jotter

    Personally, I don’t use Calc (as I have two ‘real’ calculators), but Time and Jotter are invaluable for setting alarms and taking notes. Both very useful applications.

  • Word, Data and Sheet

    Although relegated to the Extras Bar, these programs are as powerful as ever, providing nearly all the functionality you could require, especially for a PDA. For example, I tend to write reviews on the Revo and then upload them to the PC for final editing and publishing.

  • eSetup

    A wizard for setting up your Psion for the web. Unfortunately, I’ve no modem, so I can’t attest as to whether it works. However, it does take you step by step through the process in a nice, friendly window, so I guess it does what it’s meant to. My main problem with eSetup is that it’s on the ROM. Surely it could have been left off, as you’re only going to use it once?

This brings us to the Revo’s main omission, Sketch. Now, why Psion chose to remove Sketch is a mystery to all of us. However, you can now download it, although Jason found it for me, so I can’t tell you where from (Jason, here’s a hint to insert the link here!). Anyway, once you’re armed with Sketch, your Revo is complete. Full functionality is restored, allowing you to embed Sketch pictures in the other applications. You can also download Program (the OPL programming editor) from the Psion site.

To sum up, you get all the apps you’re likely to need. The only things I’ve needed to download are special apps, like nArchive and MBMView, and games, such as the brilliant PocketChess.

Vision of the machine

The screen size has been a bone of contention in some places. However, I have never felt the screen to be restrictive, which is a testament to the flexibility of the EPOC OS. The only problems come with some third party apps that haven’t been adapted to fit the Revo screen. The major software houses all make their software Revo compatible, so there is a lot of software out there. In fact, now, just over a year after the Revo’s release, nearly all software is Revo compatible. The main problems are with older software that was released before the Revo, but nearly every app now has an Revo compatible equivalent written by someone else.

Builders, builders…

The Revo is also a very sturdy machine, in the most part. The trademark Psion hinge is possibly the best they’ve come up with. It makes the 5’s look like a WinCE machine (well, not quite!).

Some of the sliding mechanism is plastic, and this tends to rub when you close it, meaning it’s got a slight creak. However, this would be nigh on impossible to get rid of, so I’ll allow it to pass.

The Revo’s keyboard has been necessarily reduced to fit the form factor of the machine. This has resulted in it being nowhere near as responsive as the Series5’s. However, it is still very usable, much better than the Series3, for example, but I sometimes miss keys, especially when using key combinations.

The docking station is also very well made. It has a metal base, which keeps it weighted down, as well as the usual rubber feet to keep it from sliding around. The Revo sits very snugly into the station, so the connection is a reliable one. PsiWin provides the usual backup and convert functions, so moving files between your Revo and PC is not a problem.

In Essence

In the main, the Revo is a great little machine, and one I’ve never regretted swapping for some of my hard earned cash. I was worried about the size of the screen before I bought it, but it’s never been a problem.

To sum up:

  • Makes good use of the screen.
  • Looks cool.
  • Docking station actually works!
  • Powerful and useful built in applications.

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