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Psion 3a PDA Review

Psion 3a Pocket PC Review

Psion 3a1993. I Remember getting my first Psion from Boots the Chemist, who for some reason were heavily into electronic PDAs at the time. I think it cost me a couple of hundred pounds, and for several years it served me well at work at home and work, as a diary, organiser, phone book, spread sheet & word processor. I had a parallel printer lead which I could use to print out documents at work, and it was great.

But then one day I had my Psion in my work-bag, on the floor in my office, and I trod on it, breaking the hinges! I glued it back together, but eventually it was replaced with a Palm m105, which was smaller and tougher (in its leather case) but not as powerful.

What did I find when walking around my local car boot the other day but a mint condition Psion 3a 2mb, the same model I had all those years ago. The seller only wanted £1 (!), and I took it home to see if it still worked, and could it still cut it today as a PDA.

With a fresh set of batteries installed the Psion 3a came to life. The case was unmarked, the screen perfect, even the keys looked like they hadn't been used, no sign of the usual lettering being rubbed off, in better nick than my old Psion that I abandoned all that time ago.

Enough of reflection on the old days, can a bargain priced Psion 3a still work as a filofax replacement in the days of Windows Pocket Pcs, Palm PDAs & notebooks? Lets see what the Psion can do.

First up the Agenda programme. With excellent day, week, year & anniversary views, the Psion adds multiple to-dos to complete the package. I find the wide screens of all Psion's much better than Palms or Pocket PCs. You can really see all of your appointments and plan your days easily.

Next up is the database, which in its basic form will hold all your contacts, with multiple fields to handle the most demanding user. The database is customisable, so you can add or remove fields at will.

Word & Sheet are highly competent word processors and spread-sheet applications, capable of anything a modern Pocket PC can do, and with the wide screen you can actually see what you're doing.

We've got Time & Patience to finish off, a clock utility and the classic card game.

The Psion can be connected to your PC with a PsiWin cable, and the Psion will then sync with Outlook. Unfortunately the 3a doesn't have an infrared port, so cable is the only way to go.

So, if you see a Psion 3a going cheap should you buy it as a personal data assistant, a replacement for your filofax & an alternative to the much more expensive Pocket PCs and Palm PDAs?

YES!!!! Once you've used a Psion, you'll wonder why you put up with the small screens and awkward data entry systems on other devices. The keyboard is easy to use, the screen wide enough, & the applications more than powerful enough for the mobile user.

Just remember, look after your Psion, its very fragile, get a strong case and don't tread on it!

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