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Psion Siena PDA / Pocket PC Review

Psion Siena - More Punch For Your Pound Than Any Other Second-Hand Pocket PDA!

Psion SienaI'm writing this article on my new second hand Psion Siena 512k, which I've just got off eBay for £6.

I'm a bit of a fan of Psion Pocket PC's / PDA's, having previously owned several Series 3's, a 5, 5mx, Revo and an Oregon Scientific Osaris. Having broken the screens or hinges (and sold a few) I've now got the Osaris, a 3c, a II and this Siena .

Fitting somewhere in the Psion range between the 3c and Revo, the Siena features a clam-shell design, small lcd screen, 512k or 1 meg of memory, separate numeric keypad next to screen, infrared and a serial port to connect to your desktop pc, through which it can synchronise with Outlook, and you can copy and convert your files using PsiWin.

At first look the Siena's screen looks too small, but after using it for a couple of hours it is more than adequate for basic PDA / computing functions. Having the numbers not above the keyboard takes a little getting used to, but presents no real problems.

The Psion Siena runs off 2 aaa batteries and a button-cell back-up, which are stored in the top half of the clam shell. This makes the device top heavy and feels odd in the hand to start off with. Unusually for a Psion the Siena opens up to almost completely flat, so thumb typing while holding the device presents an easy viewing angle.

The keyboard is not as good as a 5, you have to press quite hard to avoid missed characters, but again with use this becomes natural and acceptable typing speeds can be achieved.

For me the real power behind the Siena is its ability to sync with my desktop pc. All my agendas, to-do's, diary appointments and contacts are easily loaded up so the sienna becomes an incredible useful PDA / Pocket PC. Any word documents or spreadsheets I write can be "drag and dropped" using the PsiWin interface onto my main pc, and I can edit / publish them using the common Microsoft applications like Word and Excel.

You may well be asking how the Siena compares with other Psion's, and for me it really is the equivalent of a 3c, with a smaller screen. What sets it apart is it's size and weight, being very small and light. The clam shell design seems better than on earlier models, but you still need to protect it with a case.

My Psion Sienna will not be replacing my spv c500 Smartphone for day to day diary / contacts / to-do's, it's too fragile to be banging around in my pocket in the environment I work in, but I will be using it for mobile data entry, writing content for my websites and general tasks where I need a usable keyboard.

Because the Siena uses normal triple a batteries, and has a back-up battery, I never have to worry about loss of power, no matter how long I'm away from the pc or charging point. Another advantage of not having a built-in rechargeable battery is product life. Rechargeables have a limited number of times they can be re-charged, after which he device becomes unusable. This affects quite a few old Psion Revos, than can be repaired but it is quite expensive.

My advice? Go on eBay, or look out at your local car boot sale, you should be able to pick up a Psion Siena for less than a tenner, and you will be amazed by what it can do.

Comments / Questions:


I also bought a Psion Sienna second hand recently (Paid £10,including a case though!!)use it a great deal and am very pleased with it. Unfortunately it came with no cable, handbook etc. I have worked out how to use it etc, but where can I get the cable to synchronise to my laptop without spending a fortune, and where can I get the appropriate PsiWin software? I believe there are several different editions of the PsiWin software! Which is the correct one?

How can I alternatively use the infra red port to synchronise to my laptop?

Any help would be much appreciated.


eBay is about the only place you'll pick up cables now, but they can go for a few quid.

Psiwin is available free, from here.

Infrared is a possibility, but I've never tried it. See this page.

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