Cosmo Communicator review: The PDA/smartphone rides again Review

The Cosmo Communicator is Planet Computers’ 2nd attempt to reinvent the a great deal-loved Psion Series five for the smartphone age in an Android/Linux incarnation. Its clamshell kind component contains a slide-out keyboard, and some functions are manageable without the want to open up the system. It is an concept that […]

The Cosmo Communicator is Planet Computers’ 2nd attempt to reinvent the a great deal-loved Psion Series five for the smartphone age in an Android/Linux incarnation. Its clamshell kind component contains a slide-out keyboard, and some functions are manageable without the want to open up the system. It is an concept that has generated a large amount of attention, but does this £665.eighty three (ex. VAT, or £799 inc. VAT) handheld personal computer/smartphone have a spot in your tech armoury?

Time was when smartphones with keyboards were a detail. There were slide-outs, hinged lids, and entire frontal (Blackberry-design and style) keyboards. Before that there was the Psion Series five (and some scaled-down variants too), with a hinged lid preserving a monochrome screen and a slide-out keyboard that was just environment class. Cellular comms was not integrated into the Series five, but it was an awesome little personal computer. I applied 1 for a extended time as a pocket-sized creating device. It was not just me: the Series five was legendary.

A variety of tries have been manufactured to resurrect the Psion Series five, and the most the latest have occur from Planet Desktops. The British isles firm’s initial shot, the Gemini PDA, was intriguing but had its negatives. The Cosmo Communicator moves the concept on, importantly like features into the lid, which is a authentic increase to usability. 


The Cosmo Communicator is Planet Computers’ 2nd stab at re-imagining the 1997 Psion Series five for the smartphone period. It operates Android 9 and Linux (in because of study course) on a MediaTek Helio P70 chipset with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of interior storage (expandable by means of MicroSD).

Visuals: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

This is a major beast when compared to a typical smartphone. The footprint — 171mm extended and 79.3mm deep — is related to that of a large-screen (six.five-inch) smartphone, but it really is a good deal thicker. The Cosmo Communicator actions seventeen.3m thick at its thickest level, which is the somewhat elevated centre of the lid. It is a weighty system too, at 326g. 


The back of the lid area is property to a 24MP camera, a 1.91-inch AMOLED touch screen and a fingerprint reader/touchpad.

Impression: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

Where the Gemini PDA had a featureless lid, the Cosmo Communicator has a fingerprint sensor, a 24MP camera with flash and a 1.91-inch AMOLED touch screen. The latter is essential to the device’s usability. With the Gemini PDA it was needed to open up the clamshell to do pretty a great deal everything. In this article, the screen supplies data and caters for some interaction. For illustration, it will exhibit a notification when a text arrives in, and you can then faucet the screen to dismiss it or initiate a response — you have to open up the clam to essentially form a reply, but when you do so you happen to be taken proper to the SMS application.

Incoming e-mail are shown in this article too, and though you can only see the commencing of a information, it could be adequate to really encourage you to open up up and reply — again, when you do open up the clam, the suitable application is proper in entrance of you producing the approach of responding as fast and seamless as attainable.

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Far more than that, there is a standard menu on the entrance screen. The fingerprint sensor is incorporated in a tiny touch pad. A single press of the pad phone calls up the principal entrance screen, demonstrating time and day, and a couple of process icons (Bluetooth, battery, wi-fi and SIM standing). Tapping the pad opens a further screen demonstrating the latest phone calls, and it really is uncomplicated to phone a quantity on the record with a faucet. Tiny icons enable you to entry contacts and a dialpad so you can initiate new phone calls, and at the time in a phone there are tappable icons for issues like speaker manner, muting and incorporating contacts into a phone.

A further more screen gets you into a menu of eight shortcuts to attributes like camera, movie, torch, electrical power and options for the very small entrance screen — you can modify its orientation and brightness for illustration, and even enable it to auto rotate. 

This entrance screen is superbly useful and its presence in this article gives a major increase to usability when compared to the Gemini PDA. True, the various interactive icons can be very tiny, but it really is responsive and I discovered myself fortunately dismissing text messages and getting voice phone calls without opening up the system. 

Open up up the clamshell and a entire QWERTY keyboard slides to you. This is the heart of the Cosmo Communicator, and its resemblance to the aged Psion Series five is no coincidence. Indeed, the designer of the original Series five keyboard, Martin Riddiford, had a hand in its creation. The Cosmo Communicator’s backlit keyboard has a softer, significantly less definite come to feel than the Psion Series 5’s, but the similarities are apparent.

I discovered that some keys unsuccessful to sign up with my normal gentle touch, and I had to modify my pace and typing motion somewhat to compensate. But still, I was able to touch form at about 75 p.c of my normal pace, which is excellent heading for these a tiny keyboard.

The keyboard meant I could use the Cosmo Communicator for really serious document creation — this evaluate was published on it, for illustration. I labored on creating jobs though out and about, though I had to be at a desk as thumb-typing though standing with the system opened up or trying to relaxation it on my knees were both unsatisfactory. Even so, I would take the Cosmo Communicator into conferences to write notes in choice to my notebook. It wouldn’t be my continuous typing system, but it would be the proper match for some situations.


The principal screen, with the software equal of the Psion Series 5’s components menu bar at the bottom.

Impression: Sandra Vogel/ZNet

The Cosmo Communicator’s principal five.9-inch 2,160-by-1,080-pixel screen is designed generally to be applied in landscape manner, but it will rotate into portrait manner to accommodate the simple fact that Android applications are, by and large, designed to be applied in this orientation. Even so, keeping this system with the screen in portrait manner is uncomfortable and unwieldy.

The Cosmo Communicator operates Android 9 with a Cosmo overlay that contains a quantity of bespoke applications. LEDIson was delivered with the original Gemini PDA and allowed callers and notifications to be recognized through a collection of configurable LED lights on the system. It is in this article again, even though it really is redundant because the entrance screen tells you who is contacting, texting, emailing and so on.


Agenda was the Psion Series 5’s killer application, and Planet Desktops has done a excellent task of recreating it.

Impression: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

Pre-put in third social gathering applications include Word, Excel and Skype, all of which are alternatively more useful. In its very own software suite, Planet Desktops has also absent to good pains to reproduce arguably the killer application of the Psion Series five: Agenda. This diary application delivered a clear presentation of my weekly diary, synced from Google Calendar, and also has wonderful calendar year planner and every month totally free/active views. I also rapidly turned a enthusiast of the Notes application, which can seize text, visuals, films and voice recordings.


The Cosmo Communicator’s Notes application.

Impression: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

Tapping the important to the left of the space bar phone calls up a software menu bar that emulates the components-dependent bar on the original Psion Series five, giving quick entry to a vary of applications. It is arguably unwanted supplied the tappable application shortcuts, but is nevertheless a pleasant bespoke element.

The Cosmo Communicator operates on a MediaTek Helio P70 chipset with 6GB of RAM. This system delivered typical Geekbench five scores of 296 (single core) and 1471 (multi-core), which are distinctly middle of the street.

You could come to feel that 128GB of interior storage is not adequate, taking into consideration that 13GB of this is applied by the process by itself. There is a MicroSD card slot for exterior storage, but working with that guidelines out the device’s 2nd SIM slot. Which is a disgrace, though the system does also help eSIMs. At minimum the SIM caddy is available on 1 of the short edges of the lid area with the Gemini PDA you had to clear away the best of the lid area to get at the  SIM slot.

Bluetooth five, GPS, NFC and 802.11ac wi-fi — the NFC zone is on the lid. There is a three.5mm headset jack, a USB-C charge slot and a 2nd USB-C port for attaching a vary of peripherals. Components include a USB-C-to-HDMI cable (£39.ninety eight inc. VAT) and a USB-C Hub with two USB three. ports, a USB-C connector and an Ethernet port (£44.99 inc. VAT).

Connectivity is a important ingredient of the Cosmo Communicator’s features. It supports Debian Linux, and if you are so inclined the system can be linked to a keep track of and an exterior keyboard and applied like a Personal computer. Very well, in idea. In simple fact, Linux help was not applied at the time of creating — look at the help webpages if you happen to be fascinated in this factor of the system. 

The Cosmo Communicator has two cameras: an outward-dealing with 24MP camera, and a 5MP camera to the best left of the principal screen. The interior camera will work fine for movie contacting, though the principal camera is Ok for shooting standard pics, but there is little in the way of sophistication in this article. If you want more than the essentials, look elsewhere. 

On paper, the four,220mAh battery must supply at minimum a day’s use, but in practice battery life was disappointing. The Personal computer Mark battery take a look at documented just six hours and thirteen minutes, and through screening I applied 50% of a entire battery in about a few hours of typing on numerous situations. If you happen to be really serious about working with the Cosmo Communicator for each day productiveness, you may want to look out for charging points through the day.


Impression: Planet Desktops


The Cosmo Communicator is a further intriguing system from Planet Desktops, and definitely an advance on its Gemini PDA predecessor. When the Linux capability gets to be out there, it will have even greater attractiveness. Owning reasonably fast keyboard enter out there on these a tiny system is very appealing, and the bespoke applications are properly designed and very well realised. The Cosmo Communicator could even change a notebook for some or all of the time, at minimum for some folks.

Even so, £799 (inc. VAT) purchases you a decent notebook, and large-screen smartphones can be coupled with folding Bluetooth keyboards. This implies that the Cosmo Communicator may struggle to get traction outside a reasonably tiny niche, except if Planet Desktops can find a way to minimize the cost tag.

New AND Associated Information

Android, Linux smartphone-personal computer: Twin-screen Cosmo Communicator is out

Gemini PDA, Very first Acquire: Return of the Psion Series five, in Android/Linux kind

Gemini PDA: A extended-time period analysis of the reborn Psion Series five

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