Psion Teklogix introduces machine to rival PDA and laptop

Mississauga, Ont.-based Psion Teklogix Inc. released a new wireless computing device on Thursday aimed at the mobile customer relationship management (CRM) market, which it says will bridge the gap between the usual ways to compute wirelessly while eliminating the trade-offs that companies must consider regarding new product purchases.

According to the company, the clamshell-shaped Netbook Pro features a form factor larger than a personal digital assistant (PDA) but is smaller than a traditional laptop. Like a PDA, the Netbook Pro boasts low support costs, low weight and touch-screen capabilities while also coming equipped with a large full-colour screen, full keyboard and the connectivity flexibility similar to a laptop.

The device operates on the Windows CE.NET platform while running Intel’s Xscale PXA 255 processor, said the company, adding that the Netbook Pro is targeted toward users in fields including sales force automation, field service management and field inspection/data collection.

According to Rob Rossi, registered case nurses at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based VistaCare – a hospice services provider – have been beta testing the Netbook Pro for the past two weeks and have found it to be advantageous to their daily routines. The nurses use the machine to access patient records and make notes on patient care.

Rossi, the director of product development for VistaCare, explained that because the nurses tend to provide care outside of a traditional setting like a hospital – they instead have to travel to different nursing homes and private residences – the small form factor has been a definite plus.

“We find that having the keyboard and the touch screen make data entry very easy. The fact that it’s lightweight, it only weighs two-and-a-half pounds, and the fact that’s it’s durable, it can go into their nursing bags and travel with them…[these] are all the kinds of things that are important to provide a reliable platform out in the field for our nurses,” Rossi said.

The nurses haven’t mentioned any complaints about working with the Netbook Pro so far, Rossi said, adding that the goal of the project was to find a product that promised easy usability.

“What we’ve found is we have tried to marry an easy-to-use device with an easy- to-use application and those two components pulled together have allowed us to teach a non-technical person how to use a computer. That was really the focus of the initiative,” he added.

Although technology including Bluetooth and 802.11b can be integrated into the Netbook Pro, Rossi said VistaCare has no plans to add the wireless capabilities in its devices mainly because of the accessibility of wireless networks.

Rossi said that because the nurses are often caring for people in rural settings, technologies like 802.11b and Bluetooth aren’t available, but he explained that the new machine makes it possible for the nurses to stay informed without being wireless.

“What’s been great is, because of the processing power and the memory, we are using it as a stand alone unit. It caches up the data and then we synch it up over the phoneline so that the nurse is really not encumbered in any way in her data entry,” Rossi said. “She can enter as much as she wants and then the phoneline updates in two ways – it sends her information up and it refreshes her information on her Netbook Pro.”

The Netbook Pro will be available in Canada at the end of October for a listed price of US$1,500. Psion Teklogix can be found online at