Psion 3

Psion 3

Information appliance| title = Psion 3a

manufacturer = Psion PLC
type = PDA
connectivity = Serial, 19200 bit/s RS-232C
lifespan = 1993
media = Psion Solid State Disks
operatingsystem = SIBO
camera = N/A
input = QWERTY keyboard
power = 2 × AA battery
cpu = NEC V30H @ 7.68MHz
display = 480 × 160 monochrome LCD
touchpad = N/A

The Psion 3 range of personal digital assistants were made by Psion PLC. The four main variants are the Psion 3 (1991), the Psion 3a (1993), the Psion 3c (1996), and the Psion 3mx (1998), all sized 165 x 85 x 22 mm. In addition, a Psion 3a variant with factory installed software for the Russian language was called a Psion 3aR, and Acorn Computers sold a rebadged version of the Psion 3 and 3a marketed as the Acorn Pocket Book and Acorn Pocket Book II.

The Psion 3 range is regarded by many of its users as an unsurpassed PDAFact|date=February 2007 because of its long battery life (20 to 35 hrs), its stable and versatile software, and its durable hardwareFact|date=February 2007. About 1.5 million Psion 3s were madeFact|date=February 2007.

The Psion 3 models were a major advance on the Psion Organiser. They had an original way of managing files: the available program icons are shown in a horizontal line and the associated files drop down beneath them. Manufacture of Psion 3s was discontinued in 1998 shortly after the launch of the Psion Series 5 (a Psion 4 does not exist, due to Psion's concern of tetraphobia in their Asian markets) and the Psion Siena. Psion's industrial hardware division continue to produce handhelds running the same 16-bit operating system, some 17 years after its introduction on the Psion MC range of laptops and 5 years after Psion Computer's final 32-bit EPOC PDA was released.

All the Psion 3 variants were powered by two AA battery cells which are easily obtainable, rather than having a specially shaped proprietary battery which might be difficult to replace. They all have an internal backup battery in the form of an easily changed small button cell, which enables the main AA batteries to be changed without losing any of the data files. In addition they all have a DC input socket for optional external power-supply via a mains transformer.

The Psion 3's innovative clamshell design did have some problems: breakages of any of the four hinges; loss of function in the button bar between the two halves of the clam; and deterioration of the cable linking the keyboard half to the screen, leading to a serious display problem with the appearance of vertical lines.

Psion 3s have room for two flash-memory cards, which enabled backup of data. Psion, Acorn and third party software was available loaded onto such memory cards which were available as separate packs.

The series 3 featured a tone dialing feature using a combination of its built-in loudspeaker and dedicated software for generating tones suitable for telephone systems. It could be used to dial a telephone number by holding the device to the mouthpiece of a tone dialing telephone. The tone dialing feature was integrated into the Psion's Agenda, Contacts and Data applications. [cite web | url= | title=Psion Epoc Phone Dialer | |year=2007| accessdate=2007-08-08 ]

Psion 3 and Acorn Pocket Book

The Psion 3, together with the Acorn Pocket Book were the first truly useful Personal Digital Assistants or PDAs. Their purpose was to replace the old-fashioned paper agenda and rolodex, but they can do much more. Besides their agenda with multiple views, they feature a database, a word processor, a spreadsheet with charts, world times and more.With an optional modem, it could connect to the Internet. They can be programmed in OPL (Organiser Programming Language), with easy access to menu and graphical functions.

The Acorn Pocket Book (pictured) and later Pocket Book II was marketed by Acorn Computers. The physical device is the same as the Series 3 and 3a respectively, the Pocket Book II coming in either 256K or 512K variations. The Pocket Book II also has additional software applications including Plotter (Graph plotting software). System was renamed Desktop, Word became Write, Sheet became Abacus, Data became cards, and Agenda was renamed Schedule.

Psion 3a and Psion 3aR

The most obvious upgrade to the Psion 3a is a larger screen, now 480 x 160. The Psion 3a has a NEC v30h CPU (running at 7.6MHz), a microphone for voice recording, an I/O port (for modem, printing and PC synchronization), and 256kB, 512kB, 1MB, or 2MB of RAM. The backup battery for the Psion 3a is a CR1620. The Psion 3a range was revised in 1995 to include models with 1MB or 2MB of RAM and additional software was factory preloaded into the ROM. This included a spell checker and thesaurus, Comms software, games and more, though all of these had been available previously as optional extras (or in the case of the Comms software, as a program loaded from the ROM of the 3Link serial connector) for earlier models.

There was also a modification of the Psion 3a for Russian market named Psion 3aR, which had software factory installed directly in the ROM for the Russian language. All the other Psion 3 models had software for the English language factory installed and localization required installation of localization software, which was bundled in the box with the Psion palmtop.

Psion 3c

The Psion 3c was the next variant after the Psion 3a. (A Psion 3b does not exist). It has a slightly different external appearance to the earlier variants because a redesigned badge is placed centrally on the lid, the lid has fewer undulations, and a port for an infra red connection is visible. The plastic case is painted matt dark grey. The backup battery for the Psion 3c is a CR1620.

Psion 3mx

The Psion Series 3mx was the last upgrade in the popular 16-bit (SIBO) Series 3 line. Announced in July 1998, after the release of the 32-bit (EPOC) Psion 5, the 3mx is essentially an upgraded Series 3c. The 3mx comes in two models: 1 MB and 2 MB.

The Psion 3mx and Psion 3c have a similar overall external appearance, except the 3mx sports a matt silver metallic paint covering, rather than the dark grey finish of the 3c.

The Psion 3mx has a faster processor: a 16 bit NEC V30MX (80C86 compatible) running at 27.684 MHz, and a faster RS232c connection, which was boosted to 115 kbit/s. For compatibility with legacy software the processor speed can be reduced by pressing Ctrl + CapsLock.

All models of the Psion 3mx came with a backlit screen, also some 3cs (mainly for the USA market) had backlit screens. The screen backlight can be switched on and off by pressing the space bar whilst the special function key is pressed.

The Psion 3mx takes a CR2025 backup battery which is larger than the CR1620 that is used for the previous series 3 Psion models.


oftware packs

Software packs were optional extras. Software was available from Psion PLC or from third parties, such as Purple Software or [ Widget UK] . In later years software became available via download. [ [ Widget Looks to Web for Efficient Software Sales, Computagram] ] The software memory unit slots into either of two bays - there is one bay hidden by a swivel locking door at each end of the Psion 3 models.

The spell software pack is for the early models that did not have a spell checking facility pre-loaded.

Memory modules

The older RAM needed a button cell to keep the data stable in the memory. One button cell fitted into each module.

The later memory modules, flash I and flash II, did not need a battery and were cheaper for each capacity (both versions continued being manufactured).

The flash modules did have the limitation of needing to be re-formatted entirely to reclaim space from deleted or modified files; old versions of files which were deleted or modified continued to take up space until the module was formatted. This made the RAM modules more desirable for use where the data stored was likely to be changed frequently, as every change meant writing a new version of the file into the remaining space.

Psion Travel Modem

The Psion Travel Modem is an optional extra. They were made at the Psion Dacom plc factory in Milton Keynes, England. The connections to the Psion 3 & Psion 3a are different from those for the Psion 3c & Psion 3mx.


External links

* [ Official Psion PDA Support Site]
* [ Clive Feather's Psion 3 stuff]
* [ David MacKay's repair tips]

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