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netBook Controversy: The Original Psion netBook



picture-11A few weeks ago we saw controversy on the netbook scene; the makers of the original Psion netBook sent word that they were upset with individuals and companies that were profiting from use of the word “netbook,” a term they claim is their registered trademark.   Since a statement was issued by Psion, little seems to have changed.   Major retailers like Amazon and BestBuy continue to refer to devices like the Eee PC as netbooks.   In fact, the U100 from MSI features the term netbook on the side of its packaging.

The Psion netBook appears to have been a device that was created too early for the time in which it was released.   Similar in size to other “netbooks” that are available today, the Psion netBook PRO, a more modern version of the original netBook, came with features that are only now becoming standard on current netbooks.   The netBook PRO was manufactured with instant on, a touchscreen, long battery life, and a full keyboard.

Take a blast from the past and check out the specs of what some are saying started the netbook craze.

Psion netBook (thanks to – circa 1999

  • Processor: Intel SA-1100 StrongARM 190 MHz
  • Memory: 32 MB, expandable to 64 MB Internal DRAM
  • Expansion: CF type I & II
  • Display: 7.7 inch, 640×480 color, touchscreen with stylus
  • 58-key standard layout keyboard.
  • 12 bit digital sound with speaker and microphone.
  • Li-Ion battery with lithium cell – CR2032 backup
  • Full specs and detailed, in-depth review are available at   (earned 4.5 geekheads – 5 possible)
  • Cost: $1,299

Psion netBook PRO (from original spec sheet)

  • Processor: Intel XScale PXA255 400 MHZ
  • Memory: 32 MB Flash / 128 MB SDRAM
  • Display: 800×600 TFT transmissive display with CCFL backlight
  • Resistive touch screen for pen-navigation, 58-key touch-type keyboard
  • Expansion: CF card slot – type I & II PCMCIA, type I & II SDIO/SD/MMC
  • Li-Ion battery pack (12.6V 2200mAH) – 2xAAA replaceable batteries for backup
  • Windows CE.NET 4.2 Operating System
  • Full spec sheet from Psion available here.

Regardless of whether Psion is able to prevent “netbook” from being adopted as a generic term for the current category of subnotebooks, their original netBook and netBook PRO were innovative looks into the future.

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  1. Clavain

    01/19/2009 at 3:51 pm

    I had, and still do have, a Psion Series 3a. This was just a completely terrific little machine. Nothing in the tech arena since then has ever come close to the amount of utility and indeed pleasure that this little machine generated for me. It was quite simply the work of geniuses. The hardware was sublime, the software inspirational. I broke the hinge and moved on, but looking at it now I can’t help wonder where we would all be if Psion had stayed in the game.
    I think it is a big pity they didn’t.

  2. Carrier

    01/23/2009 at 5:09 am

    I lived the psion line. The best pda I have owned was the Revo. The netbook was awesome and ahead of it’s time. Eventually the hinge broke. Psion really never picked up here. Mainly in the UK.

  3. Carrier

    01/23/2009 at 5:10 am

    Oops- “loved” not lived. Stupid iphone

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