It’s interesting to reflect on what we become used to, and what we’re happy to put up with. For a long time now I’ve had a desire to resurrect my old Psion 5 Organizer. This was a clamshell device I was using extensively in the late 90s for writing on the move.
Being pocket-sized — see the photo above in which you can see its size relative to that of a Kindle Fire — it could be carried around with no problem at all. And because it had a keyboard, I could type merrily away, not minding about typos because I could always correct them afterwards.
Also, having a keyboard meant that it was much easier to use than pen and paper whilst travelling. For example, I wrote an issue of my previous newsletter, Computers in Classrooms, while sitting in the back of a car returning from a conference in Scarborough.
Well, having recently cleared out a load of stuff from our loft, we came across the Psion 5. I put in a couple of fresh batteries, switched it on, and it worked! And what an utter disappointment it was too. The backlight is hardly worth the name, because it’s green and not very bright. I don’t recall having that issue 20 years ago, so perhaps that’s a feature that has deteriorated over time.
Whereas before I was happy to use the keyboard, I now find it too small. I imagine I could get used to it again, but I’m not sure it’s worth the effort, given all the other note-taking options available now.
Perhaps one of these days when I have a bit of time I might try to use it again, because it does have certain advantages I think:
First, it’s really portable. The closest device I’ve come across in that regard is the Microsoft Surface Go, which is as light as a feather.
Secondly, it has no wi-fi connection, so there are no distractions.
Thirdly, it’s virtually mugger-proof methinks, because what self-respecting mugger would grab one? Mind you, I notice that they are worth around £50 on eBay.
If I do get used to using it again, I’ll have to buy an adapter in order to transfer files from the Compact Flash card in the Psion to my computer. I do have one but I put it in a safe place….
In the meantime, I’ll continue to write notes with a digital notebook and pen, or dictate them.
See also 10 Note-Taking Apps for Writers.