Earlier we have already mentioned about the new reincarnation of the Psion PDA in the person of Gemini PDA from Planet Computers. At the MWC 2018 exhibition, it became possible to personally verify its existence and consider some of the unique features of the device.
- Design features and dimensions
Considering the novelties of MWC 2018, you involuntarily pay attention to the desire of manufacturers to pull the retro strings in the soul of an electronics lover. Playing this old, frustrated but soulful guitar opens hearts and wallets as well as innovation and evolutionary advances in technology. Planet Computers, a company organized by Psion immigrants, also decided to play this guitar.
So, before us is the good old Psion, which, like a Phoenix bird, was reborn from the ashes and appeared, playing with colors, in a new plumage, albeit under a different brand. How is the Gemini PDA different from a smartphone with a strapped-on keyboard?
Design features and dimensions
The device is only slightly larger than the Samsung Galaxy S9, 171.4 mm long versus 159.5 mm, 79.25 mm wide versus 73.4 mm wide. And there are legitimate reasons for this – in the case on the sides of the screen, Gemini hides stereo speakers. In a joint photo with her grandfather, the granddaughter looks good:
Technically, the entire body is a bent metal center piece and plastic plugs on the sides. This design has been used for a long time and has been well developed in the process of its evolution. Small gaps between the body parts are present, but their presence is not caused by the careless work of engineers, but by the peculiarities of working with sheet metal. No one has yet been able to bend thin steel in the opposite direction so that there are no gaps when connected to another similar part:
Planet Computers engineers made good use of this feature of the material, placing a set of LEDs between the joints that inform about events taking place inside the PDA:
The process of installing a SIM card (micro-SIM) and a memory card (microSD up to 256 GB) is a special old-school pleasure. The design does not offer any unreliable plugs, but it suggests using a complete tool that is inserted into the gap between the armor plates on the upper plane and, after applying a fair amount of physical effort, opens the inside of the PDA:
In this case, the cover is completely removed and set aside:
Notice the third and largest slot under the cover is the rear camera connector, which comes with a separate cover. It is very similar to the modular design Motorola with the difference that the mount is much more reliable. Thanks to the prompt response from Robin, one of the developers of Gemini PDA, it was possible to find out that the resolution of the rear camera (like the front one) is 5 MP.
The PDA keyboard was originally developed taking into account the penetration of the device into nation states. It was nice to see native letters among the official photos. Taking into account the distribution model of the PDA exclusively over the network, it is recommended to immediately order the version with the Russian layout. The gadget does not promise big sales, and it is unlikely that the keyboard will be replaced during the order fulfillment. At the moment, only options with British and American keyboards are available, the rest will have to wait.
Gemini PDA can be used to make phone calls. The logical question is how to answer the call if the device is folded. This can be done without the use of wired and wireless headsets. On the right side there is a silver multifunctional button, by pressing which we receive a call.
If we started comparing Gemini PDA with Samsung Galaxy, here's another radical difference – the PDA has a set of speaker and microphone at each end. Therefore, it is absolutely unimportant in what position you hold the PDA during a telephone conversation.
Gemini PDA has equipped Android 7.1.1 and Linux Debian (arm64). Recently it became known about the full compatibility of the PDA with Sailfish OS, which the user can install on his own, if he has absolutely nothing else to do, 'tinker' and demolish this unworthy daughter of MeeGo. At MWC 2018, one of the devices came pre-installed Sailfish OS. If we recall everything we know about Jolla, then it is easy to imagine the puzzled faces of journalists who suddenly realized that some special keyboard keys simply do not work, and to perform the simplest actions you have to use the keyboard and the screen at the same time:
In the Android mode, we see a regular tablet with a keyboard. Google's software is in the process of being certified and is on track for successful completion, as Mr. Robin assured me. At the moment, the device is not in the Antutu database, but given the used amount of RAM (4 GB) and the chipset MediaTek Helio x27, the user should not worry about performance. In the Android mode, all special buttons on the keyboard work, and of particular interest was a software add-on in the form of a pop-up panel with program shortcuts (you can put your own). This panel, as a program, has nothing to do with the launcher, it is called by the 'Planet' button (marked with the Planet Computers brand logo) from anywhere and in any situation. Below is the example of the popular Nova Launcher, which was installed on top of the bare Android:
According to the ideology of using two OS in one device, Linux is a 'working' operating OS. It is on it that Libre Office and photo processing programs, notebooks for programmers and other work programs will be installed. Linux is not much different from Windows if you just use the programs. When asked about the possibility of installing Steam Machines, Mr. Robin answered negatively, stating that the Gemini PDA was originally developed as a tool, not a game console.
In an era of very similar smartphones and tablets, laptops and all-in-ones, only the Gemini PDA claims to be the crown of the all-in-one device. Too big for a smartphone and too small for a netbook, it has occupied its own niche, where, apart from it, there are only 5.5-inch micro-notebooks based on Intel Atom Zxxxx series without voice communication and a normal keyboard. What is its future? It depends only on you. In many ways, this is a humanitarian project, the margin over the cost of components is minimal, a PDA costs the same or less than if it was a smartphone from a well-known brand with similar characteristics ($ 500 and $ 600 for the 4G version). In conclusion, it is highly recommended to watch a blitz review by Eldar Murtazin.
When the material was already in the layout, the answer to the last question came from Mr. Robin. Boot Loader will be unlocked on all Gemini PDA devices, which means that anyone can experiment with the firmware. This fact cannot be perceived otherwise than as a concern for all people interested in electronics. I would like to wish Planet Computers good luck and say thank you to Mr. Robin for prompt answers.
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