Thursday, May 7th, 2015
Years ago I bought two Psion Siena handheld computers with some other
old mobile stuff and never used them, until last week.
Siena is the smallest of Series 3 models and the most different one,
in fact Psion even didn't consider it as part of the series. It has
the good old QWERTY clamshell form factor, but mainboard, batteries
and I/O ports are in the lid, bottom part contains just the keyboard.
Therefore Siena always opens to full 180 degrees and is designed to
be used in hands, not on the top of the table. Also this makes more
pressure on the hinges and the whole machine seems to be more fragile
after years of usage than both older Series 3 and newer Series 5
models. That said, both Siena machines still work, while my Series 3a
has broken hinges and Series 5mx has some problem with the opening
mechanism, so the fragility is probably in my head only.
Display of Siena is just half-size of that on Series 3a/c/mx with the
240x160 resolution and is placed on the left side of the lid.
Operating system (Psion SiBO, Sixteen Bit Organiser) and its GUI are
perfectly modified for this change and I can imagine cell-phone or
palmtop shaped device with such a screen shape. What a pity nobody
thought about that possibility back in 1996, with full multitasking
and great power management it would have made Nokia Communicator cry.
The right half of the lid s dedicated to numeric keyboard, with keys
made of rubber. This makes Siena look even more like an organizer and
less like other handheld computers.
But Siena for sure can do anything other Series 3 computers can, with
one exception, which is a bit annoying: there is no Comms application.
Comms is serial terminal emulator with file transfer possibilities
(XModem, YModem, etc.) and for someone without Windows PC by far the
fastest way to transfer data between desktop and Psion. To be honest
I'm typing this on my way to work directly on Siena and at the moment
I don't know, how I'm gonna transfer the text. If I fail to figure it
out until batteries are depleted, you will never even read this text.
Fortunately Siena can work more than 40 hours on pair of AAA, so
there is a good chance, I will think of something.
I don't really plan to use any of my Sienas on daily basis, because
the age and long frequent usage by previous owner are showing its
signs: some keys do not work properly and need to be pressed more or
twice, some plastic parts are cracked, etc. But in general I like the
form factor, the OS and the stuff I can do with the device on the go.
I miss the handheld era...
PS: I made it. I installed PsiMac in SheepShaver emulator and
connected Siena to serial port on my PC just in the time. Few moments
after the transfer finished, system started to warn me about low