Planet Computers gets its slide on for retro-cool flagship smartphone

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By Paul Ridden

March 30, 2020

The Astro Slide 5G is currently raising production funds on Indiegogo

The UK’s Planet Computers has hit the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform with its third project, the Astro Slide. Inspired by the Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) of the 1990s, it’s a chunky smartphone when out and about, with a slide-out physical keyboard when it’s time to work.

Planet Computers first hit Indiegogo in early 2017 with the Gemini PDA, a clamshell mobile device inspired by Psion PDAs that opened up to a tactile QWERTY keyboard on one side and a touchscreen display on the other. This was followed in late 2018 by the Cosmo Communicator – a “pocket computer, mobile phone and camera.” Both campaigns were successful and the devices subsequently offered for sale.

Now a new flagship has launched in the shape of the Astro Slide 5G. As with previous Planet projects, the team tapped the expertise of Martin Riddiford for the design, the creative mind responsible for the sliding keyboard of the Psion 5. The 5G-enabled smartphone and palm computer hybrid features an all-new RockUp sliding hinge mechanism that moves the touchscreen to the side to reveal a backlit QWERTY keyboard beneath. Once the keyboard is in full view the hinge tilts the 6.53-inch, 2,340 x 1080 display at an angle for viewing comfort.

When the backlit keyboard is fully revealed, the touchscreen display is tilted for viewing comfort

When the backlit keyboard is fully revealed, the touchscreen display is tilted for viewing comfortPlanet Computers

The device is built on a MediaTek Dimensity 1000 chipset with eight CPU cores, nine GPU cores and six APU cores, which Planet says offers twice the performance of other 5G chipsets while also reducing power consumption. In fact, the company is promising an entire day’s work and play from a single charge of the 4,000 mAh Li-ion battery. Wi-Fi 6 is included, Bluetooth 5.1 is onboard, and the device is eSIM-enabled.

It runs Android 10 with a multi-boot option for Linux support, and will come with at least 6 GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 128 GB of internal memory, which can be expanded via microSD. Photo duties are handled by a 48-megapixel camera to the rear, and there’s front-facing webcam for video calls. A fingerprint reader for secure login, and NFC for contactless payments complete the main specs.

“The Cosmo Communicator, and the Gemini PDA before it, gave people power to create and be productive anywhere with the pocketable keyboard,” said Planet’s CEO Dr. Janko Mrsic-Flogel. “Astro Slide takes that one step further and gives users an original and innovative take on the modern smartphone, one which meets the needs of work, communications and entertainment without compromise.”

Indiegogo pledges start from £439 (about US$545), which represents 40 percent off the expected retail price. If all goes to plan, shipping is expected to start in March 2021.

Source: Planet Computers

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