Planet Computers Cosmo Communicator – Hands On at CES 2019

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The Planet Computers Gemini, a 90s Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) transported into 2018, is a product overflowing with quirk, which means its niche appeal is strong; but everyone else looks at it with a sideways glance and little more. To satisfy those who actually want to use a PDA-style device today, the company has now made the Cosmo Communicator, which it says is the flagship device in its range. The new Cosmo retains the PDA design of the Gemini, but adds in features most modern smartphone users consider essential.

Like what? On the Gemini you had to open the clamshell body to do anything, as the screen and keyboard was inside. That was fine (vaguely) when technological barriers got in the way two decades ago; but not today. For the Cosmo, a screen has been added on the outside of the device, so you can interact with the phone without opening it up. The external screen measures 1.91-inches, joining the 5.99-inch screen inside. You can answer calls, add quick replies to messages, and scroll through notifications on the external screen.

It’s impossible to say anything other than this is a great idea (because it’s how we’ve been using all other smartphones since the iPhone), however, we weren’t given the opportunity to try it out on the Cosmo, as we only saw a prototype with the screen running a basic demo mode. It looked slick and smooth, and it was certainly very bright. We couldn’t test responsiveness or how it felt to interact with a small screen on a very large device.

For $800 you can buy everything from an Apple iPhone XS, Google Pixel 3, or Galaxy S9 down. All of which are brilliant — hugely capable, and vastly more sensible, longer-lasting purchases. Except they’re not PDAs, and if it’s one of those you want, your options are limited to, well, the Cosmo or the Gemini today. If you’re quick it’s available for the lower cost on Indiegogo at the time of writing, and we’d strongly recommend not paying much more than this if you’re drooling over the thought of tapping out emails like it’s 1994.

We’ll reserve judgement on the success of the new Cosmo features, due to only seeing non-working prototypes; but on the surface these are required upgrades to a device that without them, feels like it’s in a tech timewarp. The Cosmo Communicator is better, but it only really adds tech from 2015 to its 1990’s body, then still charges a 2019 price.

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