When it comes to software the suite provided by Psion Teklogix is minimal, because, like hardware add-ons, the company expects users to develop in house or buy precisely what they require. What you do get includes versions of Internet Explorer, Inbox, WordPad, Windows Media Player and Windows Messenger from the Microsoft stable, Pocket On Schedule as the personal information manager and Stellent File Viewer for file management. You also get ActiveSync, Microsoft’s desktop synchronisation software, though because of the intended user base it is expected that most synchronisation will be done from the field rather than via a wired link.
This software is all fine to use, and while we’d have liked to see more, it does provide enough for basic productivity. A spreadsheet in particular would have helped things along and many companies deploying the NetBook Pro will probably find they need to add one in.
One of the key features anybody and everybody needs from a portable computer is battery life. This is where many conventional notebooks let us down. The couple of hours of work away from mains power that most notebooks stretch to is fine for short trips, but for inter-city travel, plane journeys, or overnight stays away from the office it simply isn’t good enough.
I wasn’t able to test the NetBook Pro’s battery using conventional notebook systems, but I gave it the simple task of looping MP3 playback continuously with the display auto shut-off disabled, and it delivered eight hours of play before shutting down. This is the kind of life you can expect for simple text production, though if you are using other power hungry features, like added wireless communications, the battery will deplete more rapidly. Running on a base specification machine like my review model the battery delivers enough for a full day’s work and maybe even an overnight away from the office without a power supply.
The long battery life, extreme portability and excellent keyboard make the NetBook Pro an enticing option for any word worker. It is a little expensive, though, and if Psion Teklogix does heed the urgings from this review to release it for a wider audience it will have to address the price. Do that, and it stands to make plenty of sales.
The NetBook Pro is far too good a computer to be consigned to the likes of sales force automation, field service management and field inspection. It needs to be unleashed into the wider world.