A little bit of history repeating itself.

Back in the late 90’s and early 00’s in the days before smartphones were really a thing I used to carry a PDA everywhere with me. Before the days of Palm, I had Psion. A Series 3a, and then a Series 5.

Psion had it nailed. The finest British innovation from Silicon Fen in Cambridgeshire, back before we became a nationalist hell-hole and decided that being an island suited us thankyouverymuch.

The beating heart of the Series 5 was a rather fancy ARM chip. In the 90’s ARM chips were so new that hardly any devices used them. Created by ARM holdings in the 80’s and debuted in the Acorn Archimedes around the time I was in 5th form at Comprehensive School, the ARM was mind-blowing. Destroying the Amiga and ST with 32 bit power in an era of 16 bit 68000 processors.

But I digress…

The form factor of the Series 3 and 5 was something I truly loved. Small, pocketable, and for such a small keyboard the one on the Series 5 is still legendary for being the best keyboard ever fitted on a pocket device.

Spin on to 2021… The third iteration of the Galaxy Z Fold arrives with us. The folding screen device has always intrigued me, but never been on my wish list for two reasons:

1. No IP rating

2. No S-pen

Enter, then, the Galaxy Z Fold 3. The first iteration with both of the above. Ok so the IP rating is IPx8 which means the dust ingress rating still isn’t there, but it has stylus support!

Mine arrived on Friday. Apparently demand for them has been stunningly high! It looks like everyone else has been waiting for the above to be a thing.

So, why did I refer to the Psion above?

Well I’m currently typing this post with mine in “flex” mode, half folded. It feels like I’m using a Series 3 again!

New Gadget

So my new gadget arrived today. I have wanted one of these for absolutely years, indeed I ordered one back in about 2003 at a cost of 150 quid and it was cancelled and refunded. I can only assume because the technology wasn’t ready back then.

This one is made by Serafim and it’s a really well designed bit of kit. Indeed the only flaw is how slippery the bottom of it is, as otherwise it’s great. It also works as a musical piano which is really amazing!

Stadia arrived!

My new Google Stadia arrived.

I didn’t pay for it, google sent me a link to get one free because I’ve had a free trial of Stadia on my phone. To be honest it’s pretty good, although the transposition of the A and B buttons is very annoying from the Switch.

I wonder if the free offer is linked to the PS5 release?

Nexdock Touch Arrived

After receiving the notification last week about my Nexdock being shipped and then it actually sitting in a warehouse for a few days (which I was fairly patient about to be honest), I had a notification on Monday that indeed it had shipped and it was in transit.

In what appeared to be no time at all it shipped across Europe, and arrived in the UK overnight. This afternoon at just after 12 o’clock it was delivered! (along with a customs email asking me to pay the VAT on it).

Well after a few hours of use I can tell you I am very impressed with it! The entire thing feels solid, with a nice substantial weight to it. The screen borders are very slim – pretty much rivalling my wife’s Dell laptop; the screen is crisp and bright with good colour rendering too.

Sound is acceptable. Not stunning, but very acceptable. The USB port works just as expected, and everything I’ve plugged into it so far was read fine by my phone.

It charges my phone whilst it’s plugged in, using it’s own battery to do so. The phone charges a little slowly, but at least it does charge.

As for the touchpad, well I’ve had to turn off multi touch gestures, apparently this was also a problem on the earlier Nexdocks too where the palm would trick the touchpad and the app you were running would close.

So what are the downsides? Well, only one really. It’s not a UK keyboard layout and the manufacturers have supplied a silicon overlay. It’s acceptable, but I’m not sure if I’ll stick with it. It feels grabby and clingy. I’ve given it a squirt of my latex clothing polish (I’m currently on BeGloss). It seems to have removed the cling a little. I should keep the membrane on as it is actually a work device and the membrane will keep the keyboard clean.

The other flaw with the overlay membrane is it does reduce the effectiveness of the backlighting.

Other than that little flaw I’m very impressed so far. It’ll be interesting to give it a spin out in the field, but I can honestly see it being my daily driver along with my phone.

Galaxy Watch back

Having had a Garmin watch for the best part of 4 weeks I’ve finally got my Samsung Galaxy Watch back from the warranty repair. The battery had failed quite spectacularly – draining from 100% to 0% in under 30 minutes, often getting very warm in the process. When I charged it, it would often get to 100% charge but the light on the charger would stay red.

Anyway, it’s now back and to be honest it feels nice. The Garmin was OK, but rather limited, especially the notifications section which would often deliver the same notifications repeatedly.

Yeah the battery life is the killer on the Samsung – a day at most, and the weight difference is rather noticeable with the Galaxy Watch being somewhat heavier than the Garmin, but to it’s credit I can charge it from the powershare feature on my phone.

I’m still going to keep the Garmin for a while, and I’ll see how it goes for the next few weeks before I decide whether to sell it.

It has to be said though, Samsung have the nicest platform. I still can’t get on with Android Wear.

Remember when Solar was a thing?

Back in my early days of mobile phones when batteries lasted a few days (yes, even my Treo 600) and chargers were non-standard, bizarre things with loads of strange pins or snappers?

Remember Pop-port (Nokia), Hotsync (Palm), Nokia, Nokia Micro, Motorola? Phone shops would sell dozens and dozens of ridiculously cheap chargers and we would happily use them to keep our Nokia 5210 running.

Well thankfully those days are over, with the Mini USB kicking off the demise of this practice, before eventually rolling into the slightly tougher Micro USB, and finally ending with the much stronger and more usable USB C port.

Back in the day before battery bricks were really a thing, we had brief and somewhat fleeting passion with solar chargers – Freeloader being one of the big names – with the devices being in essence a small battery brick (usually around 1.5 Ah) and a couple of solar panel “wings”.

In the somewhat environmentally unfriendly box with all its associated plastic fillers and receptacles came a bag with about a dozen “tips” in, so you could make your own charger cable to match your Sony Ericsson or NEC phone.

The idea was that you would be able to go camping or on holiday and take your phone and the freeloader, and you could essentially leave the charger with it’s panels facing the sun and come back to a lovely charged unit so that night you’d be able to charge your phone. Hell, they even sold the panels and central “hub” as separate items so you could cycle your battery hub and always have one on charge.

Well here’s where it all fell down.

We’re in Britain. A country famous for it’s beautiful blue skies, crystal clear skies, and hours of sunlight; where the palm trees hang over the beautiful azure blue sea and the shoals of brightly coloured fish dance and skip over the warm waves.

So in essence that was doomed to fail.

I bought into the snake oil. I owned a Freeloader. From my personal experience it took around 4 days to charge fully, but because it wasn’t waterproof you had to essentially babysit it. The other major problem was that it was very sensitive to the light drop off so you also needed to turn it regularly to face the sun.

I found myself charging it from a socket at home and just using the middle battery module. Yeah. Hardly the environmentally aware plan they touted on the marketing material.

In tidying up recently, my wife found my old freeloader. It’s obsolescence makes me weep. No USB ports. Specialised cables and connections, and a pathetically tiny battery can’t cut it in the 2020’s where our phones are essentially full computers, cameras and audio players in our pockets with the battery to power this being in excess of 3Ah even on the smallest devices.

I worked it out that using a Freeloader to charge my Note 10 would fail due to the output being only 800mA – but if it could, I’d be looking at around 12% from a full charge.

It’s now in my WEEE bin. The entire concept is pretty much in the WEEE bin to be honest. The dream was never a reality.