After many years of working with Psion PDA's, I was increasingly puzzled as to why anybody would want to trade excellent software, great battery life, a full keyboard, and total compatibility with PC's to buy a Palm or even more inexplicably, a Windows CE device.
Unfortunately, the British have never been known for their technology marketing skills, and Psion eventually exited the consumer device business. I was distraught. I had been using the original Series 3, then the 3a, then the Series 5, then the 5MX. Each unit was better than the one before, and I had a great way of carrying personal information around with me, as well as books, games, reference material and even an astronomy program.
The only faint hope was that the EPOC operating system which made all this possible had been transferred to a new company called Symbian, and Nokia and Ericcson were shareholders.
I nursed my Series 5MX along for the last few years, dreading the day it would finally die and I would have to transfer everything to a new platform. And die it did, on October 12, 2004.
I briefly tried to find someone to repair the unit, but that seems to be a UK-only proposition, so I finally bit the bullet and started researching alternatives. Having already tried the Palm and CE world, I wasn't optimistic. Doesn't anybody else want to have data in their own format? Remember dBASE??
The Treo 650 briefly looked like a possibility, but the build quality issues, and the lack of distribution in Singapore (they are still flogging the 600) ruled that out. So the choice came down to two Symbian phones - The Sony-Ericsson 910i, and the Nokia 9500 Communicator. Except the Nokia hadn't come out yet, and was still officially listed as Real Soon Now.
I almost bought the 910i, but the laughable keyboard put me off, and the need to use Memory Stick storage was another negative. I managed to keep SideKick 98 running under Windows XP on my laptop, and kept the data on a USB Flash drive. That combo meant that my data files were still available, though on something rather larger than a Psion - an IBM ThinkPad T41.
I kept haunting the Nokia sites, and signed up for email alerts. Time dragged, and then, an email. No prices, no retailers mentioned, just an email showing the 9500. I checked all the local telco sites and discovered that Starhub had it listed on a hidden page on their web site.
The next morning, I hustled down to the Starhub "service" centre at Plaza Singapura. They call it a service centre, but it is actually a giant queing operation and really badly run, but that is a topic for another rant.
After waiting 20 minutes and seeing only 1 customer actually served, I tackled what looked like a manager. I explained that I just wanted to give them money for a phone - no new line, no discount, no freebies, just cash for a box. He seemed completely taken aback by this very non-Singaporean behaviour and at a loss as how to respond. I finally persuaded him to get me the box, even though my queue ticket was somewhere in triple digits away from being served. A quick punishing of the plastic, and I was the proud owner of a new toy.