Psion 7 and NetBook portable description

The best miniature computers on the planet

A laptop replacement PDA organiser using EPOC ER5 OS and applications, released in June 1999.

The Series 7 and netBook feature instant on, and a rechargeable battery good for about 8 hours. It would appeal to those needing a decent keyboard, and instant access, and who find a conventional laptop too slow to get into action and not sufficiently bulletproof.

It is basically a much larger update of the Psion 5mx hardware to colour, VGA, with the PCMCIA modem port onboard, and a really nice keyboard. Just what I needed as a portable office, although those hoping for great software advances may be disappointed.

There are two models. The consumer Psion 7, and the industrial netBook. The netBook is slightly faster, loads the operating system into RAM, accepts more memory, and has Ethernet drivers for a PCCard slot that supports a greater current draw. The Psion 7 was very much cheaper, and has its operating system and applications in ROM. netBook differences are listed in (brackets).

The MalayBook is a custom early model netBook, with a specific boot loader that will only use a specific version of the Epoc operating system image. About 10,000 were provided for an educational project in Malaysia. When the project folded, many of these models appeared on the open market, often via SitaShop. They are basically not easily able to be updated to a different operating system version, except by replacing the boot card.

The new model of the NetBook released in late 2003 is an industrial model for specific needs, and runs WindowsCE (I won't be covering this model). There is a petition asking for Epoc to be ported and made available on the new hardware at www.petitiononline.com/nbookpro/petition.html

Hardware

Processor
32 bit 133 MHz Intel StrongArm SA-1100 (190 MHz). The extra clock speed is not always apparent in applications, which are mostly about the same speed as a Psion 5mx, or even slightly slower. Some computing intensive ones are however respectably faster. This is probably because the operating system is not specifically coded to take advantage of the SA-1100 CPU, and because the video is much larger and in colour.
Display
7.7 inch (196mm) 256 colour VGA 640 x 480 STN LCD pen touch screen. Nine brightness levels. (I believe the display is a Hantronix HDM6448ATSC-7)
Weight, Size, Power
41 oz (1155 gram), 9.2 x 7.2 x 1.45 inch (235 x 182 x 37mm), 15 volt 1.5A AC adaptor, rechargeable 11.1 volt 1500mA Li-Ion battery containing three CGR18650H cells, CR2032 backup Lithium cell good for 55 hours. Ruggedness Rated at IP30 (netPad is IP67).
Memory
Series 7 has 16MB, expandable to 32MB. Netbook has 32MB, expandable to 64MB (however the O/S occupies some of this leaving perhaps 44MB). Compact Flash II slot with a tray for extra memory drive. PCMCIA Type I/II slot, for extra CF memory (via PCMCIA adaptor) or (in NetBook, but not in Psion 7) takes Psion Dacom modem, a few Ethernet cards, a few WiFi cards, some GPS cards, but be warned, battery life is then much shorter.
Keyboard
58 key, plus 20 application and control touch pads around screen. Zoom size in and out, cut and paste. Four user definable touch pads can select any application (Ctrl plus touch pad shows their icons). External button to snooze alarm.
Audio
12 bit digital sound, speaker, microphone. The microphone connection is a press fit, and tends to fail.
Communications
RS232 port to 115 kbps, identical to Series 5. Lousy rubber RS232 port cover, like on the old Newton, however it hasn't fallen off in four years. IrDA 1.1 115kbps. Docking connector underneath body, near backup battery hatch, which has the RS232 pins, plus power and ground. This is used by the desktop docking connector. Use of the serial or IrDA ports will decrease battery life.

Software

Epoc Release 5 (ER5). Same as in the Psion 5mx, but displays in colour. The items below are included with the Psion 7.

Word
Word processing. Multiple fonts, bold, italics, bullets, borders, etc. Headers, footers, page numbers. Paragraph styles. Embed sketches, spreadsheets, sounds. Spelling checker built in. Zoom display. WYSIWYG. Password protect files. Print direct from all applications, or via PC using Windows printers.
Spell
Spelling checker, thesaurus, solving anagrams, crossword clues.
Sheet
Spreadsheet. Text formatting similar to word processor, auto-sum, 100 functions, hold columns and rows, zoom, graphics for seven chart types including 3D. Up to 30 row by 17 columns visible. Password protect files.
Printing
Printing support for a small selection of printers, via optional parallel printer cable or IrDA infrared, or via Windows using True Type fonts. Print preview multiple pages at a time. Third party printer support.
Sketch
Drawing tools, using stylus provided with Psion. Clipart library, zoom, resize. This is a paint (pixel oriented) drawing package, not a vector oriented package.
Agenda
Multiple different files of Agenda items. Time management and diary, with day, week, month and year views. Unlimited alarms, user supplied sounds, silent alarms, flexible repeat entries. Anniversaries. Attach notes, sketches, sound. 100 To-do lists, various arrangements, optionally in other views. Custom views of entry types. Very powerful PIM.
Database
Card view of records, list view of multiple records, embed sketches, sound or objects, sort, set type sizes and fonts, various types of data including memos, set limits to some data entries, import and export as CSV, tab format. Very flexible.
Contacts
vCard style address book, integrated into eMail application.
Jotter
Quick note jotter, based on Data.
Record
Record voice and sounds. Store 2 minutes per megabyte with compression, up to 4 minutes with ADPCM. Use as alarm sounds. There is a bug with the microphone, which does not always make contact with the motherboard. Pressing down very hard on the case above the microphone (near right hand shift key) will often cure it for a while.
Calculator
Four function with "tape". Also scientific, multi function, with ten memories. Use touch screen if desired. Swap from left hand to right hand use.
Time
Select sounds or recordings for alarms, local times in 700 locations, add your locations own. Flexible multiple alarms. Daylight saving. World map. Dawn and dusk times. Distances between cities. Latitude and longitude information. Lists past alarms, future alarms. Digital or analog appearance of clock.
PC Docking
Serial cable with Honda connector (identical to Psion 3c, 5, 5mx). Windows 95/NT PsiWin2 conversion program included, Psion appears as an icon in Windows Explorer. Convert to and from multiple PC word processor, database and spreadsheet formats, also sounds and some graphics. Sync with Outlook and other PIMs. A robust flat docking station connector is underneath this model, but I haven't seen an actual docking station for it so far. They are available, but are rather expensive.
Programming language
OPL editor and translator built in. Suitable for reasonably large (4000 lines typical) object oriented menu driven full graphics programs very similar to built in applications. Free OPL, C++ and Java SDK available to developers from Symbian web site.
Communications
VT100 and TTY terminal emulation, ASCII, Xmodem, Ymodem protocols.
Email
Simple text email, with Psion attachments, SMS and fax program, multiple POP3 addresses, take addresses from Contact. Although listed as the same version (v2, 518) in the Psion 7, in the Malay NetBook, one option is to use IMAP as well as POP3 email.
Web
Simple web browser, with frames, gif and jpg graphics. No SSL or script, so some sites won't work correctly (including Psion itself). Opera commercial browser also available, but provided free by Psion Enterprise for this model. Opera 3 is installed in Malay NetBook instead of Web.
Java
Java 1.1.4 run time is supplied on CD, however it is very large. Occupies 2.9 MB of disk, and 5.7 MB when running. I basically think Java is too large and too slow to bother about, but enthusiasts think it is sliced bread.
System
System display showing folders, file properties. File manager. Cut and paste clipboard. Control panel, change many preferences.
InfraRed
IrDA IrCOMM file transfer via PsiWin (Windows 9x). IrDA transfers between other Psion devices. Print direct to IrDA printers like HP 5MP and Brother BJC80. IrOBEX object transfers.

Accessories

As per Psion 3c, Siena, Psion 5. Comes with PsiWin cable to connect with PC. Comes with 15 volt 1.5A battery charger (may not be international type). Comes with PsiWin software CD, with conversion and synchronising software for Windows 9x and several additional manuals (Comms, PsiWin) in PDF format.

Optional Psion to parallel printer cable. Optional international voltage battery charger. Optional Gold Card modem. Optional CF memory cards. Optional desktop docking station.

Manual and Help System

Comes with 200 page manual explaining briefly how to use many of the built in applications. Malay NetBook comes with only a few page pamphlet.

Luckily the Help key on all Psion devices opens a really extensive manual that covers a lot more than the printed manual. The built in help file is a modified Data application file, so you can make your own additional help manuals for programs.)

Cost

Varies. Around A$1860 within Australia in June 2000 for 7. USA.21store lists US$900 for Series 7, US$1300 for Netbook in June 2000. Go32 (UK based?) list Series 7 at US$990, netBook at US$1330, Li-Ion battery at US$179, mains adaptor at US$45, docking station at US$119 at July 2000. Malay NetBook was US$258 in March 2003, but went to US$400 shortly after.

Date of Manufacture

Indicated by the first three numerals in the serial number (on a slip of paper glued inside the CF card slot), just after the four alphabetical characters. Has a code for the year as the first digit, followed by the week of manufacture. 8 indicates 2000, 0 is 2002, 1 is 2003.

There are various motherboard revisions. Revision 10 commenced in week 35 of 2002, and appears to have replaced Revision 7. Revision 10 can supply higher currents to the PCMCIA card slot.

Modems

The modems that work with netBook and Psion 7 PCCard slot are

3Com/megahertz 33.6k with XJack connector
Psion Dacom GoldCard 56k modem

Uncheck DSR/DTR and DCD if things don't work.

Software Updates from Psion

EasySwitch application for Epoc (12KB)

Email Synchronisation update 1.1 for PsiWin 2.3 and 2.31 (1.18MB).

InSync Pro upgrade for PsiWin 2.2 for Lotus Notes 5 (1.98MB).

InSync Pro(e) upgrade for PsiWin 2.3 for Lotus Notes 5, Lotus Email and Contact Manager (1.98MB)

Lotus Organiser 5.0 and 6.0 plugin for PsiWin 2.3 and above (1.34MB).

MacConnect 1.1.4 upgrade for Macintosh OS 8.5 (194KB)

PsiWin 2.3.3 PC connectivity and synchronisation for all 32 bit Windows (25MB). Also available on CD.

PsiWin 2.3.1 PC connectivity and synchronisation, provided for users of InSync Pro(e). All others use latest version. (25MB).

Synchronisation upgrade for PsiWin (helps with duplicate entries in Contact) (132KB)

Disassemble of wet keyboard

Ralph Barrett outlined this on 7 Jan 2002 in c.s.p.m. ralph_barrett at fladda.frzzszrvz.co.uk (change z to e)

Backup. Remove both batteries. Remove netBook or Sreies 7 label between the keyboard and display. Remove the screw exposed (only one). Remove plastic DIMM sockets and DIMMs.

Carefully remove push fit pins that hold the front screen hinges in place. Remove one piece facia around DIMM sockets down to keyboard. Unplug keyboard ribbon cable from motherboard connector by releasing two locking tabs on connector. Slide keyboard up and remove.

Dry using air dehuumidifier or similar. Keyboard is a sealed unit, and should not be further disassembled.

Colour Patchs of Programs

Martin Guthrie's Pscience5
Martin has done a heap of colour icons, and has a great page, with many extra colour patches for programs. www.pscience5.net/Freeware/Colour_Icons.htm
psiMind
Egon Widner's Colour patch for psiMind formerly at www.psialp.ch/psialp_software.html
RMRZip
Egon Widner's Colour patch for RMRZip formerly at www.psialp.ch/psialp_software.html
Neil Thompson
Neil provides an excellent detailed list of colour patches and using colour for the Psion 7, and where to obtain them. Extrabars, SimCity, Color Magic, Presentation Maker. www.neilthompson.co.uk/psion/s7colour.htm

Bugs

The Toolbar battery level indicator is replaced by a triangle in NetBook models, when running OPL programs, as these look at a buggy header file. Andrew Gregory is working on a general patch http://www.scss.com.au/family/andrew/

General notes

To come.

Demonstrated at CeBIT in March 1999, along with netPad and a VGA netPad workalike prototype. Looked like they considered 1/4, 1/2 and full VGA screens.

Ethernet PCCard support is promised for netBook (and delivered), but not for Psion 7. Optional docking station has power and RS232.

netBook operating system is loaded into RAM on cold boot from CF or serial port. The chassis of both systems is the similar. netBook has a RAM based module with a faster CPU. You can modify a netBook down to Series 7 standard by installing the Series 7 CPU and memory card. Series 7 to netBook may not work, as some Series 7 failed the test for being able to work reliably at the higher speed. This method of making computers and testing for speeds for different models is fairly standard. The Series 7 memory upgrade does not work in netBook. Only 16MB, 32MB and 64MB are acceptable to either system (48MB won't work).

There is a survey by James Marshall to encourage the production of Ethernet drivers for the Psion 7. Please consider encouraging this venture at http://www.digitalkingdoms.com/s7ether/

The no longer available Voyager VGA PCMCIA card from Colorgraphic can be used to drive an external monitor. You could buy this card from SitaShop in 2003 at US$250. http://www.colorgraphic.co.uk/voyagerepoc.htm

The driver VgaSuite is by Osirix Design Limited.

Psion Enterprise made available on their site in August 2000 a full version of the Opera web browser (based on version 3.62), a MindTerm SSH client, Ethernet drivers, and VGA video drivers. They are now part of www.psionteklogix.com/ The drivers are reputed to be at partners.psionteklogix.com/pm/AuthFiles/login.asp

An OS upgrade patch appeared on the Psion Teklogix site at www.psionteklogix.com/public/Series7 but seems to have moved.

Sibo reports that a Dacom Goldcard 56k + 10Mb will let you use Ethernet and get 5 KB per second on a Psion 7. That sounds more like good modem speed to me. The drivers were once at www.psionteklogix.com/_mem_bin/FormsLogin.asp?/partners

5mx black is S7 black, dark red, red, blue, dark magenta, dark blue
5mx dark grey is S7 dark grey, dark green, magenta, dark cyan
5mx grey is S7 grey, dark yellow, green, cyan
5mx white is S7 white, yellow

Printer black is S7 black, dark red, red, blue, dark magenta, dark blue, dark grey, dark green, magenta, dark cyan
Printer white is S7 grey, dark yellow, green, cyan, white, yellow

To run the Psion 7 independent of a PC, NoNags Neil comments you would probably need to install a browser, nConvert, a zipper and unzipper, and probably RMRNews.

Paul Taylor sends connectors
This was the pinout I posted in the past... (polarity is definitely correct! Just measured 15.73 V unloaded from my power unit at the spring pins).
http://www.expansys.com/product.asp?code=MDA-PSI-7002&asource=TMP_PSION7

You plug the RS232 and power plugs into it. It has little spring-loaded 'blades' which push onto the contacts on the base of the S7/Netbook. These are the connections that I could establish: ***disclaimer: If you damage your machine, don't blame me!***

From left-to-right, "A" being the contact for the left hand side of the S7
(serial port side)

Bottom view of S7 with front facing upwards:

AB   CDEFGHIJKLM   NO

A
B

C    from PSU cable outer (0 V), and to 9way D pin 5 (PC GND) and outer
screen.
D
E    from pin 3 of 9way D cable socket (PC TXD output)
F
G
H    from pin 4 of 9way D cable socket (PC DTR output)
I     to pin 6 of 9way D cable socket (PC DSR input)
J
K    to pin 2 of 9way D cable socket (PC RXD input)
L     from PSU cable inner (+15 V)
M    from PSU cable inner (+15 V)

N    from PSU cable outer (0 V), and to 9way D pin 5 (PC GND) and outer
screen.
O    from PSU cable outer (0 V), and to 9way D pin 5 (PC GND) and outer
screen.

Notes:
There's no way I could probe the RS232 cable port on the back of the docking station, so plugged in and buzzed to the end of the backup cable! Pins 1,7,8,9 of the 9way socket appear to go to none of the docking station pins.

My S7 doesn't have the contacts fitted in positions A & B. Other than power and GND, none of these docking station pins seem to link to each other (buzzed A to B,C,D,E,F,... B to C,D,E,F,G,... C to D,E,F,G,...)

From: fladda.frzzszrvz.co.uk (Ralph Barrett) Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2003 21:39:27 GMT

Most Series 7s and Netbooks share exactly the same motherboards. Early Series 7s appeared to have a lower power limit on the PCMCIA slot. Very recent Netbooks have a higher power rating for GPRS cards. Apart from other minor detail differences most motherboards are more or less identical.

There are 2 unfitted DRAM sockets on the motherboard, plus what appears to be an unfitted flash ROM socket. Tonight I finally got around to soldering two 8Mbyte DRAM chips to the unfitted PWB artwork. I've now got a 32Mbyte Series 7, with 32Mbytes on the motherboard:-)

I used the Hitachi memory part HM5165165LTT-6. Very important to use the low power DRAM parts here, as the DRAM is powered up all of the time on a Psion.

At present I cannot use this motherboard with a Netbook personality module, as EPOC does not support a 48Mbyte RAM configuration. Also not sure whether this extra 16Mbytes of DRAM on the motherboard occupies the same address space as the DRAM on the Netbook personality module. I suspect that it does.

Next tests will be :-
1. Remove 2 DRAM chips from a Netbook personality module (or lift CE lines on these DRAMs). See if I can get the 32Mbyte motherboard operating as a normal Netbook.
2. Solder a 2Mbyte Netbook boot loader ROM onto the motherboard. Then I should have a fully working Netbook, but with no personality module fitted ! Ralph

This site will look much better in a browser that supports W3C web standards but it is accessible to any browser or internet device, including Psion Web and similar PDA or limited browsers. Netscape 4.x users - turn Style Sheets off. Your style sheet support is too broken to use (sorry).


ericlindsay.com -> epoc -> epoc hardware -> psion7

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