Resellers are intrigued by Psion Teklogix Inc.’s $2,000 Netbook Pro mini-laptop, an improved version of its Netbook computer, which will start shipping at the end of the month.
Like the original, it’s targeted at salesmen and field workers who need a light device with a keyboard and a moderate-sized
However, the Netbook Pro runs on Windows CE, which Psion hopes will give it wider appeal.
“”We believe we’ve created a device that will be very appealing to the enterprise because it combines the virtues of a laptop and a PDA,”” said Dan Schachtler, Psion Teklogix’s director of product management.
The 1,100-gram (2.95-lb.) unit was designed in Britain and Canada, where the mobile division is headquartered (Toronto). Psion PLC bought Teklogix in 2000.
There are significant upgrades in power over the earlier model: The Netbook Pro is powered by a 400 Mhz Intel ARM processor, versus 190 Mhz for the Netbook. It also has a larger, 8.5-inch colour SVGA screen (the Netbook had a 7.7-inch VGA screen), 128 MB of SDRAM for memory, an SVGA touch screen, standard modem and a USB 1.1 port.
Storage and wireless capabilities are handled by PC Card, Secure Digital and Compact Flash slots.
One of the biggest differences is in the operating system. While the Netbook ran on Symbian’s EPOC, the Netbook Pro uses Windows CE .Net edition, making it easier for businesses to extend existing applications or develop new ones, said Schachtler. Psion is also offering a free software development kit to buyers.
The OS is in flash memory for virtually instant boot-up. The screen hinges several centimeters in from the unit’s rubberized back, allowing a user to hold it with one hand. Psion says the keyboard — which doesn’t have function or calculator keys — is almost full size.
Distribution will be through resellers of Psion’s line of wireless handhelds, often found in warehouses for asset management and in the field, as well as wireless software integrators such as Sona Innovations Inc. of Toronto.
Sona has reworked asset tracker and field service applications it wrote for smaller handhelds to work on the Netbook Pro and sees great potential. John Bush, the company’s president, said a Canadian engineering firm is piloting the device and one of its applications.
“”We’ve actually re-opened up some opportunities because of the Netbook Pro.””
Applications Solutions Inc., a Markham, Ont. company that develops supply chain solutions, thinks the Netbook Pro could be an addition to its product line. Sheldon Sacks, the firm’s vice-president of sales, said the laptop could handle its Crescendo business intelligence software for managers.
“”We like the size, the display and its capabilities. The value proposition of the platform is solid,”” said analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group of San Jose, Calif. “”It’s always looked good on paper. Psion’s challenge will be to get its hardware resellers and software integrators to do the selling,”” he said.