Date: Thu, 24 May 2018 20:08:48 +0000 (UTC)
From: Ian Colvin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: The Digest V1 #2985
Dear Itamar and all,
I received my Gemini last week after many months waiting and am very impressed with the hardware. I was anxious, on account of both a video I'd seen and from Herbert's review (for which many thanks, Herbert), that the screen might flap during typing. I am happy to report that my example has a firm hinge that gives almost no wobble. To be precise I cannot detect wobble when typing normal sentences, but -- if looking out for it -- I can see that typing on the number keys, which are closest to the hinge / support mechanism does cause a very slight movement of the screen. If I weren't looking for it, I probably wouldn't even have noticed it. In other words it is insignificant and does not bother me. I infer that Herbert, and some other users who have reported similar experiences including the video I saw, must have received a screen with significantly weaker hinges. There was discussion I read on one of the Gemini facebook pages about machines that could or could not be held in the hands and thumb-typed on while lying on one's back. It was clear from this that some users' machines suffered from weaker hinges than others'. It will be interesting to see whether mine deteriorates over time with use, but at present it is very good. If I were in the position of Herbert I would try contacting Planet, as I would feel so weak a screen hinge as he describes would merit a repair or (preferably) replacement.
The typing experience is indeed superior to my Psion 5mx, which formerly I thought to be the best keyboard possible in such a small form factor, and which I still use on a near-daily basis. Touch-typing on my two psions I find that keys fail to fire on occasion. By contrast I find my Gemini keyboard registers correctly every time ... though I do still suffer from the problem of hitting the comma and full stop wrongly on occasion, caused by their being in the 'wrong' place on the Psion and Gemini keyboards by comparison with where my touch typist's muscle memory tells me they should be. In short, I am delighted with the keyboard.
Battery life seems fine by my so far limited experience. I have gone several days without charging it and still found it in the high 70s% remaining battery. But this is only with light usage and with all the battery draining extras switched off. I haven't yet made extensive use of it and though I've put a SIM in it and experimented with data, I haven't yet used it as a phone. However, I am hoping that it will do more than a day's work without needing charge, and might even allow use of it away from a charger for several days at a stretch. A power bank might allow longer periods away, but I doubt anything can match up to the abilities of the old Psions to last, especially when combined with the slipping of a couple of new AAs in one's luggage. I may yet invest in a spare battery if/when Planet or someone else starts selling them. (I occasionally work in locations and countries away from power outlets so this capability remains one that I find useful.)
As mentioned above, I've not used it as a phone, and plan to continue to use my current ageing Samsung Galaxy Note 3. This is largely because the camera on it is so good, and I know that the Gemini will not be able to compete on this front. But I expect I may try an experiment at some point with using it for a short period as a 'daily driver'. It isn't my main purpose for the machine, though. I want a PDA that I can type on, and possibly a mini-laptop for when I don't feel like carrying my MacBook Air.
I had not written a review yet partly because I have not had time to install my preferred software on the machine. Currently Geminis arrive with Android OS, but there is a 'software preview' of Debian linux available. In due course I hope to install this, or perhaps the next iteration of it, as the more capable linux-bods get their teeth into fixing it up for less capable (and sadly time-poor) users like me. The Android software looks OK, but I am (I confess) one of those weirdos who dislikes the idea of my computers forwarding information unbidden (by me that is) to large corporations, so I have not logged into a google account and therefore am not enjoying the full 'capabilities' of Android. What I have asked of it, it has performed very well. That is I've installed f-Droid and fiddled around with a few note-taking and markup programs; my brother has persuaded me to install signal, which seems to work very well as a Skype replacement for (private) messaging.
A full review will have to wait until I've managed to live with the machine for a bit longer and have had a chance to try out its full capabilities. But I wanted to respond to Itamar's challenge to let you all know that I am indeed very excited by this machine, even after having had it for a week, and even though I recognise that the full-polished software side is not yet quite there. Though if any of you are Android/Google enthusiasts perhaps you will find that for you it already is. For those of us who really have missed a touch-typist's machine, I think this is a very promising start.
I'll let you know how I get on in due course. I am still awaiting the accessories I ordered with it, which did not arrive with the main unit. Planet have told me this was human error on their part and they will have them in the post to me soon ...
Very much looking forward to reading about others' experiences.
And thank you, as always, to the list administrators for continuing to maintain this marvellous resource, and also to the users for writing about software and hardware choices.
All the best,
Date: Thu, 24 May 2018 20:15:12 +0000 (UTC)
From: Ian Colvin <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: The Digest V1 #2986
PS I should add that not having yet received the accessories, including the Planet leather slip case, I have been using my Psion S5 Palm-tec hard case, which has protected my Psions so well for nigh-on two decades. It fits pretty well, and can be used from within the case, though the charge port does not quite fit with the cut-out section for the Psion 5mx charger. And of course the new Gemini is much less thick than the Psion and therefore on both counts, while it is quite well-protected, it would definitely be desirable to obtain an updated Palm-tec case designed specifically for the Gemini. A clamshell seems to need a different sort of case to a 'slab' or tablet. It needs to open up differently--though perhaps that is truer if one is planning to use it largely for typing and less for speaking into as a phone.
I am also missing the provision of a stylus for it. I shall have to experiment with one and see if it is useful, or try a little mini-mouse. But all that is for the future.