Introducing the Astro Slide 5G
Most 'All About' old hands have a soft spot for 'communicators', all in one devices with full screen UI and also a full physical keyboard. There have been a few over the years, most recently with the Planet Computers Gemini and Cosmo Communicators, then the f(x)tec Pro1. And today we get a new entrant into this market, potential the most ambitious of all - the Astro Slide, also from Planet. See below for the Indiegogo promo video and various links and specifications. The ultimate smartphone-micro-laptop?
As before, this is an Indiegogo project, i.e. crowd-funded. Meaning that only a prototype has been made so far and that funding to bring this to production will come from user interest. The target is $160,000, which they'll hit within days (as they did with previous projects). In reality, a few million will be raised in the 40 days and then work will start in earnest to start the year long process of mass producing all the various parts and organise assembly. Actual delivery is expected in Spring 2021, so you'll need... patience!
The Astro Slide departs from the Gemini/Cosmo clamshell concept in favour of a true slide-out design. The hinge is complex and moves and tilts the display section. In terms of specifications:
- 164 x 76.6 x 15mm
- Dual 5G (MediaTek Dimensity 1000), running up to 2.6GHz
- Mali G77 GPU
- 6/8GB RAM
- 128GB storage plus microSD
- 6.5" 1080p LCD display
- Twin USB Type C
- Dual SIM plus eSIM
- 48MP main camera, 5MP front camera
- Stereo speakers
- Full travel Planet Computers QWERTY keyboard (language variants available)
- Runs Android 10 with extra Planet Computers landscape/productivity applications
Which all looks pretty good, though I have two reservations. Firstly, the need for a ribbon cable to tie screen to the main unit. While these have proved reliable in the Gemini and Cosmo, the Slide adds a whole new degree of movement and flexing reminiscinent of the Psion Series 5 in the late 1990s - and that was a reliability nightmare.
Secondly, the timescales mean that this will come out of the blocks in 2021 looking a bit mid-range in terms of specs. There's no way for Planet Computers to avoid this, given the funding model, but it definitely remains a factor - there's literally no way for them to design a 'flagship' at present.
Published by Steve Litchfield at 8:26 UTC, March 30th