LAS VEGAS—Fans of historic handhelds will thrill to this. Today at CES, we saw the Planet Gemini PDA, a folding clamshell Android-based computer that looks like a Psion or Windows CE device from 15 years ago.
Are portable keyboards having a tiny renaissance? The Gemini is the third time we heard about QWERTY returning to our pockets here at CES: first with the promise of more keyboarded phones from BlackBerry, and then from a Moto Mod with a 5-row QWERTY.
The Gemini is the most luxurious of all. Spec wise, it's a smartphone with a keyboard: 6-inch, 1080p 18:9 screen, Mediatek Helio X27 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage plus a MicroSD card. It can boot into either Android 7.1, or a Linux command-line—the latter function will make it a dream troubleshooting device for sysadmins and IT professionals.
It's connected, of course. There's GSM, LTE, and CDMA connectivity, making it, in theory, compatible with all four US carriers, as long as Sprint and Verizon don't pull shenanigans and block it. You can make calls using a speakerphone mode or a Bluetooth headset, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera supports video chat. The battery is 4220mAh.
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Help us tell more of the stories that matterBecome a founding member
There are two USB-C ports on the sides, for charging and—peripherals! Planet's will have an HDMI adapter and a USB-A/Ethernet dongle for the device. The plugs together will cost $75.
But oh man, the reason you're getting this is the keyboard. Now, I don't find this the most awesome form factor, personally. At 6.7 inches, it's a little bit too wide for me to comfortably thumb-type on. But folks with bigger hands will thrill to the scissor-like depth of the keys and the sculpted, laptop-like key edges. Chiclets these ain't.
Planet went ahead and skinned Android with some software that adds an application "dock" to the Android UI, letting you jump between apps quickly.
Sure, it's a niche device. But it's great! Dual-window multitasking is a blast on the Gemini, and that command line is going to thrill coders and geeks. But … I can't shake the idea that this is almost too good to be true. The Gemini is currently rolling out from Indiegogo, where it costs $399 for the next two weeks; it'll be $599 at retail after that, and it arrives in March. We'll see if that happens, and if the device works when it does.
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe