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Portables (Apple) Handhelds Hardware

Newton II - Does The Rumor Have Legs This Time? 242

Ian Lamont writes "Mike Elgan at ComputerWorld has an interesting analysis of the small computing market, and predicts that the market is primed to take off. He admits that small computers have been tried before and failed ('Every single UMPC device that has been shipped or announced suffers from lousy usability, high prices, poor performance, ill-conceived user interfaces, or any combination of the above') but he points to several recent products — and a rumor — that he says changes the playing field and paves the way for the first-ever successful small computer, from Apple. The products are the iPhone and the iPod touch. The rumor: Apple Insider has sources who claim that Apple is actually working on a 'modern day Newton' to be released in the first half of 2008. The device will supposedly have a version of Mac OS X Leopard and a touch interface, according to Apple Insider. A lot of people just aren't buying it. They point to the fact that the first Newton eventually flopped. A few note that similar Newton II rumors have been trotted out in years past, as well as a high-profile hoax. Nothing ever came of them." Would you buy if the Newton came back?
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Newton II - Does The Rumor Have Legs This Time?

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  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:11PM (#20787245)
    It better fix the Beat up Martin = eat up Martha handwriting recognition bug.
    • that bug was fixed in the last two versions of the newton. But by then it was too late. Since then the Newton's technology sows up in hidden places through out OS X. Inkwell is that very tech, And it works just fine.
      • by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:39PM (#20787647)
        Exactly; Newton didn't "eventually flop". From what I've read, it flopped on Day 1, but then became useable and a decent product. However, the Newton was never able to overcome the baggage of all that initial bad press. Building a good product isn't enough, you've also got to market it right.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Lepton68 ( 116619 )
          I worked on some of the first third party software, released on Newton's day one. It was a very, very good and solid product to use and develop for. By the last model, there was only one thing still wrong with it as a device - the form factor. It was a bit too big and heavy for a pocket. But that would have been very quickly addressed. Politics alone killed the Newton. Now, I look forward to a true successor, the tablet TouchMac. It WILL happen.
          • I'd clarify form factor somewhat. The screen on the Newton was exactly the right size for a pocket computer. Unfortunately, the technology of the day meant that that made the unit as a whole too big.

            Note that the last Newtons had ARM chips that were faster than some modern PDAs, so there isn't a huge amount you'd want to improve with the design.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Andy Dodd ( 701 )
          Not just bad press, bad user experiences.

          In my opinion, the Newton deserved to die. At one point my family had one and it was the clunkiest most anemic device we'd ever used.

          A year later my father got a Palm Professional - It kicked the Newton's ass handily, and was a fraction of the price of the model of Newton we had (I forget which one.)

          As to Newton II - As I see it, iPhone = Newton II.
  • Would you buy if the Newton came back?

    It depends on how Apple begins to treat the iPhone hacks going around. If they stop the cat and mouse game to please the AT&T gods with disabling and "bricking" the altered iPhones, then maybe I would consider it. Hell, I was considering an iPhone until this whole bricking deal came to be.

    I'm sorry but Steve Jobs wouldn't be where he was today if it weren't for a rabid fan base and he's quickly killing off the fan base by linking up with the douchebags of the worl []
    • by Tuoqui ( 1091447 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:14PM (#20787273) Journal
      So your post boils down to a 'No'?

      I agree that the bricking of iPhones was a piss poor move. Though I suppose if they did release a Newton II that it would likely do everything that people wanted to hack their iPhones to do but lack the cell phone capability.

      After all the technology for a Newton II and iPhone are not that unrelated.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why do people think Apple has a choice in the matter? Apple most likely has a contractual obligation to ATT requiring due diligence in the case that someone finds a workaround to their exclusive contract.
      • by AuMatar ( 183847 )
        First- they chose to get into that contract. So yes, they DID have a choice in the matter. In addition, breaking the contract is always a choice.

        Secondly- stopping a workaround is not the same as purposefully destroying hardware that someone else has bought and paid for. If an individual did that instead of a company, they'd be arrested for destruction of private property.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          It's bluster so ATT doesn't take them to court. Do you think Apple cares if DRM was broken in Itunes? The only reason it was there was to appease the record companies.
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:39PM (#20787649) Homepage Journal
      I think this position misses the premise (which I happen not to believe).

      The only reason the iPhone and iPod touch aren't the next generation Newton is that they aren't sold, supported, or configured as platforms for running third party software. If a "Next Generation Newton" was locked down, it wouldn't be a "Newton", it would be an iPod.

      The whole thing boils down to money. Apple tried selling PDAs, and they didn't make a ton of money. By making the iPhone not a PDA, they not only get a nice chunk of rental revenue from AT&T, they avoid playing a game that they tried before and lost.

      However, timing is important in business. Companies are getting out of the PDA business, which means it is time for a contrarian business to consider getting in. The big question with Apple is, what are they going to do to get people to buy more of their stuff? After a few more generations of iPhone and iPod, it's bound to become a harder sell. So a lateral move into a different product category is plausible, although it isn't inevitable they'll go back into the PDA business.

      Maybe something that look a lot like the PDA business though. If I was smart enough to know what that might be, I'd be rich.
      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:18PM (#20788149)
        I think this Newton rumour is more likely because Apple is being aggressive at keeping third party apps off the iPhone and particularly the iPod Touch. Wouldn't want those two interfering with the launch of a real PDA, would we?

        Jobs is famous for not allowing a product to see the light of day until it meets his standards. PDAs with styluses really do suck, but everybody seems to love the idea of a multitouch PDA.

        I don't think it's going to be the equivalent of a tablet PC though. No keyboard is a big drawback there. In the future, when multitouch matures a bit, maybe Apple will consider a tablet with an onscreen keyboard though.
      • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @06:12PM (#20788749)
        IMO, the Newton was killed just when the market and technology was ready for it. The Palm Pilot just hit the market and was taking off. Now, we have Apple with the iPhone they need to restrict to make telco's happy but they also have this really nicely patented and usable UI and packaging... They could rip out the telco chips, throw in a video driver chip and make an 3rd party open device for the Nokia N770/N800 space. With VOIP and wireless, email, PIM, and a VGA connector for presentations it would make a splash at any office meeting.

        Sounds cool to me but I would rather see a Linux implementation if they could get all the nice gesture stuff working smoothly as Apple does. It is marketing which killed of the PDA market more than the phone market. I don't see even halt the number of smartphone users around as I used to see using PDA's(Palm, Handspring, Sony, and even iPaqs). When the marketing stopped and it didn't seem cool anymore, people slowly left the devices in the desk and doing that for just one month can kill the battery for good. Non replaceable batteries also fixed the life expectancy and probably lead to many EOL scenarios.

        Ive me a fully open iPhonePDA and a keychain telco wireless phone module with Bluetooth support and it'll be cool once again to have a PDA. IMO.

      • Apple may intend to make a PDA-type device, but I very much doubt they intend to get into the PDA business. Consumers don't want PDAs and Apple is a consumer company. Consumers want "web tablets" or whatever. We'll probably call them iTablets (or whatever Apple call theirs), in much the same way "iPod" has become a generic term for a digital music player. I want a web tablet thingy. I don't want a PDA, but I do want a web browser on a slim A5-ish touch screen.
    • by jdray ( 645332 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:04PM (#20788003) Homepage Journal

      I almost bought an iPod Touch. I didn't care if it played music or not; that's sort of an "icing on the cake" thing. The movie thing is nice, too, but not huge. But it looked to be a UMPC that I could like. That was until the calendar disabling. Then you couldn't use it as a disk. Oh, and the screen is really too small. I've said (here and several other places) many times before that what I want is something the size of a Steno pad (in all three dimensions) that has a minimum of buttons and no hardware keyboard. Yeah, I want a "PADD" from Star Trek: TNG. I think most business people would use one for their primary computer, leaving their "desktop" machine to gather dust.

      • by Locutus ( 9039 )
        I'm with you. Give us an awesome UI device and let it connect to everything else if needed. It's the darn Telco's who are forcing the platform/hardware layout the way they want it so they can lock in users to their service.

        Give us a PADD and let us worry about the UI and applications and let the Telco's worry about making the network reliable. The iPhone hardware would make a great v1 PADD with wider models later on.

      • The truth is that something the size of a steno pad would not sell, because it's simply too large to have with you all the time - even sub notebooks just aren't as popular as real notebooks.

        I also disagree the Touch (or iPhone) screen size is too small. I watch it while jogging (on a treadmill) and it's perfectly easy to view. Being able to hold it steady and/or closer (as on a plane) would only make it better. And on a plane specifically I would not want a larger screen because they are too distracting
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jdray ( 645332 )
          What you're missing is that (we) business people aren't interested in a device's ability to play music, movies or games, except possibly as a secondary feature (the icing on the cake I mentioned). Imagine using the iPod Touch or the iPhone to review a business plan or software requirements document, annotating as you go, or looking at a spreadsheet or report of annual sales figures, then go on to a slide presentation that includes a lot of business graphics. I sit in meetings on a regular basis where thes
          • What you're missing is that (we) business people aren't interested in a device's ability to play music, movies or games, except possibly as a secondary feature (the icing on the cake I mentioned). Imagine using the iPod Touch or the iPhone to review a business plan or software requirements document, annotating as you go, or looking at a spreadsheet or report of annual sales figures, then go on to a slide presentation that includes a lot of business graphics.

            I *am* also a business person. And I am saying t
      • I also agree, the size of the newton was perfect for usability. Modern day handhelds are just too small to be general purpose. However, if you get much bigger then the original ( a paper back pocket book ) then its too big, and might as well get a tablet.

        So ya, in a way size does matter :)
      • When I first saw the iPod Touch on the news the first thought I had was "finally I can update my PDA!".

        All it needs is to be open enough that people can develop programs for it. It doesn't need to be too complex, look at a lot of the cool apps for the Palm Pilot... and synchronize a datebook, notes, and contacts.

        Sadly, I'm still stuck with my old black and white (hah, black and green) Handspring Visor Deluxe since it just works and it refuses to die.
    • Since the Mac began, Apple have taken the approach that if they provide a very tightly controlled 'string' for users to begin to pull and massage, they will wind up with a robust, tested feature they can then buy/squelch and implement for themselves.

      The hot feature of today started out as the 'bricking' of yesterday.
      Themes in OSX? Impossible - then... Not so much.
      Third party apps on iPhone? Impossible - then... Not so much.
      Non-Apple Widgets on an Apple device? Impossible - until the rabid fan base who
  • by pebs ( 654334 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:12PM (#20787251) Homepage
    The Newton is already back, it's called the iPhone
    • by feranick ( 858651 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:20PM (#20787377)
      In the Newton you could actually add apps, or even simply edit documents. Amazingly, you could do "cut and paste".

      All things (and many others) you cannot do with the iPhone. I fail to see how the iPhone can be the new Newton.
    • by samkass ( 174571 )
      The most useful thing about the Newton for me was sketching quick ideas. The "handwriting" recognition could turn crude hand-drawn boxes into straight-sided rectangles, connecting lines really connecting them, and jotted notes into text. It was the ultimate Visio-type communication device. It's also something that can't really be done right without a stylus, and Apple's iPhone marketing seems to indicate Apple thought a stylus was a mistake, so I don't hold great hope for the iPhone turning into a Newton
    • by StCredZero ( 169093 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:33PM (#20787565)
      If they took the technology in the iPhone and put it into a form factor that was more like a Day Planner than a Phone, then you would have a Truly Awesome companion device. Make it cover most of the functions of the iPhone, except for the phone part, and have it sync with the phone over Bluetooth. Give it WiFi and the ability to use a stylus -- but only in a pinch for lots of data entry or sketching. You'd want to build on the multi-touch goodness. Heck, with multi-touch my iPhone is already a better eBook for PDFs than my Sony Reader, and it's not even hacked! (I just put them on my personal website and view them in Safari. I put them in their own tab, and they stay there for a couple of hours without my having to download them again. Multi-touch rocks for reading stuff.)

      There are situations where you wouldn't want your phone *and* a planner, but there are plenty of situations at work where you would find both very useful, but it would be cumbersome to drag a full-blown laptop along. In a larger form factor, the apps already on the iPhone would really rock. The iPhone would still be vital because of its form factor. You could still enter contact data and look at your agenda in a pinch. But for heavy-duty work, the additional screen real estate would be a big win.
    • A PDA derivative of the iPhone could essentially be the "Newton II". Here is why:

      1. The hardware, OS, and interface are pretty mature (most current PDAs are lacking in one of those dept's)
      2. It would explain why Apple is not allowing 3rd party apps for the iPhone (it would be a "Newton II" exclusive) and why they have painstakingly removed most PDA "features" from the Touch.
      3. Being based on OS X, it would be trivial developing new applications for the "Newton II".
    • Now with extra lock-in.

      No thanks, I'll pass.
    • When Steve came back, he effectively emasculated the Newton, put a Uni-nipple on it, shrunk it's screen, and called 'her' iPod.

      It's primal, to be sure, but it's instinctive for a mammalian male (Alpha) to slaughter the offspring of a lower ranking animal when returning to or joining a pack.

      It's still there in business, it just plays out differently.. This is the deal:

      The Newton had to die for the iPod to be born, but the original utility is too timeless to go away forever.
      I always said that if my Newton we
  • by kabdib ( 81955 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:13PM (#20787261) Homepage
    1) It was released too early (needed another 3-4 months shaking out before hitting the shelves).

    2) Synchronizing data was a painful process involving lots of cable manipulation, app-launching, etc. (the Palm had a dock: very easy)

    3) Too expensive (by about $500)

    4) Too large (Palm got it right)

    5) NewtonScript was nice, but too weird. A C++ dev kit would have helped a lot (but was politically impractical in the Newton group)

    6) Apple management wanted royalties on applications (which was just absolute bugf*ck insanity)

    [Yeah, I worked on it.]

    • You forgot 1b) It was released too early (needed another 1-2 years for consumer acceptance to catch up).

      The Newton was just starting to become a decent device when it was Steved.
    • by vought ( 160908 )
      2) Synchronizing data was a painful process involving lots of cable manipulation, app-launching, etc. (the Palm had a dock: very easy)

      Partially because the hardware and system software divisions at Apple too busy getting PowerPC of the ground to make sure IR was built into every Macintosh at the time.

      Newton had IR; the Mac didn't. Enter a plethora of cables.
  • iPhone? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by natpoor ( 142801 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:14PM (#20787283) Homepage
    Isn't the iPhone a Newton, essentially? And I know a lot of Slashdotters are going to say "no you idiot it's a phone and doesn't have handwriting recognition and X and Y and Z!" but come on people that's not what I mean. The iPhone is a little, handheld computer, yes? It also has voice-communication built in, which we call a phone. So it doesn't have handwriting recognition. That might actually be a good thing! Actually maybe it is a lot harder to make apps for the iPhone? (I don't know.)
    • Re:iPhone? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kalidasa ( 577403 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:27PM (#20787485) Journal
      No third-party installable apps, so no, it's not a Newton. However, it could be converted into a Newton with a slightly more ambitious operating system update.
      • Not sure how you missed it, but the iPhone has a lat of third party apps - it's just that the loading mechanism is not officially supported. Putting your hands over your eyes going LA LA LA THERE ARE NO APPZ however does nothing expect make you appear extremely ill-informed.
        • /me covers eyes and chants


          /me appears to gain +1 informative

        • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @10:36PM (#20790793)
          I don't think you had to hack the Newton and then worry every time there was an update in order to install apps on it.

          I hate to tell you, but the average customer, even Apple's average customer, isn't going to deal with hacking their PDA just so they can install solitaire on it.
          • I don't think you had to hack the Newton and then worry every time there was an update in order to install apps on it.

            Very true. Isn't the Newton quite dead? That's not a very good role model for an argument.

            I hate to tell you, but the average customer, even Apple's average customer, isn't going to deal with hacking their PDA just so they can install solitaire on it.

            Now you've hit upon why the current solution is not as much of a problem as people make it out to be - the average users is fine with the iPh
    • by StCredZero ( 169093 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:52PM (#20787833)
      What's hard to do is to control the whole user experience to the level Apple and Steve Jobs wants to. I think this is why the iPhone didn't support 3rd party apps at first. It's one thing if one of your programs fails on your laptop/desktop. It's another when your're walking around and your phone breaks. With something like a data tablet, there would be more leeway.

      I've owned multiple Palm devices, and I now own the iPhone. Palms were nice for keeping info, but ultimately not worth the trouble of lugging and extra device around. If some sort of Apple data tablet succeeds, then it will have to have functions not covered by the iPhone. You will be able to do the iPhone functions with more screen real estate and comfort, but there will be additional functions.

      Something that acted like a 21st century Newton and also acted as a graphics tablet would rock. Such a device would also be a kick-ass eBook reader. Doctors would love the thing. (My ex, when she was in med school, had a Sony made PalmOS device pretty much to just to carry around pharmacological reference material. Practically everyone in med school had a PDA for that purpose.)

      The tech in the iPhone has a lot of potential if you put it in something the size of a day planner.
      • The Newton was huge for that too, back in the day. But 1990's Apple was unaccustomed to that market, and generally sucked at business, so they never built on that.
    • Well I feel like it's stupid to be speculating about a "new Newton". Is it going to look like the old models? Is it going to work like the old Newton? Will it have handwriting recognition? Will it be called the Newton?

      Yes, I think the iPhone is Apple's new PDA, and Newton is Apple's old PDA. I bet Apple is working on some new laptop models that are thinner and lighter. Perhaps, in addition to that, there will be a very small tablet-style Mac with a touch screen. It wouldn't surprise me if Apple want

  • I would indeed buy it. I still use a MessagePad 2100 that's far more reliable and longer-lived that the iPaq I purchased to replace it - even if, yes, the iPaq had more capabilities.

    I'd love to have the best of both worlds - reliability, great handwriting recognitiion (yes the last Newtons had that), with a color screen, WiFi, and hackability.

    I don't believe the rumors, though.

  • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:17PM (#20787333) Homepage Journal
    If Windows thrives on "Developers Developers Developers" then Apple needs "Rumors Rumors Rumors".
  • by Yold ( 473518 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:19PM (#20787355)
    for the iPhone. Perhaps they're holding off for a iNewton? I'd friggin buy an OS X PDA in a second, just for safari, and the flexibility of a UNIX subsystem would just be extra goodies.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Yes, but the problem is with PDAs are that they aren't stand-alone computers. I would rather have a hackable N800 then a PDA that can access, word, excel and a strange web browser that can't render hardly anything. Thats what PDAs have turned into, something that can access a watered down word processor, spreadsheet and internet. Now if Apple can let us 1. Let Us Access the terminal for us Linux/UNIX geeks 2. Put a decent web browser with Flash or Gnash(A free flash plugin) 3. Let us download binaries and
  • by olddotter ( 638430 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:23PM (#20787429) Homepage
    I have wondered for a long time if the Newton would resurface. I don't think it was a bad product idea, I just think it arrived before its time. Today it might succeed for 2 reasons:

    1) Much greater technology penetration of main stream markets. (Not just for nerds anymore. Or perhaps "its hip to be square.")

    2) CPU speeds are fast enough today to allow for a more advanced GUI in a portable device.
  • []

    I believe that there is more talk of a sub notebook than a newton.

    But what they hay. Put out a story that references an updated Newton, and you are guaranteed to get lots of eyeballs - truth be damned.
  • I personally don't need one. My Palm Pilot does the light work, the PC does the hard work, and the Nokia does the phone work.

    I could pay the extra bucks for a Treo or iPhone to combine Palm functions w/ a phone, but I'm cheap.

    For those who need it, i would be a good option. I actually liked a friends Newton many years ago, but again, never had need for one.

  • by Upaut ( 670171 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:26PM (#20787465) Homepage Journal
    Best handwriting recognition of any device still, hands down. Though right now its more of a franken-newton, being cobbled together of as many new parts as possible. The only original part is now the motherboard, which is from a newton I salvaged in a yardsale a long time ago. And if I could clone it, I would in a heartbeat.

    Though I am tempted on trying to compile the Einstein emulator on my iPhone, and using one of the two styluses designed for the iPhone that are being produced. But its not just the fantastic handwriting recognition that brings me back to it every year; its the large screen. The Newton was never meant to be a PDA, as it was made before that term was even cobbled together. It was originally developed to try and supplant the current buisness laptop. Longer battery life, more portable, and you can write, fax, etc with it. If you realize this, and that it was not a device built for comically big pockets, then it hit the mark perfectly.

    How can you tell it hit the mark? Alright, users of Palm 3's, rase your hand. (*glances around*)
    Psion 7 out there? (*glances around, sees a couple hiding in the closet*).
    It hit the mark because we still talk about it. We still crave for it to come back. It might of even been around today if the spin-off company making them was not bought back by Apple shortly before Jobs got back, which he axed with childlike glee becuase it did not fit into his picture of a "user experience" device.
    • Psion 7 out there?

      Nope, but... [fx: reaches into pocket] ...this 'ere 5mx is always with me, and gets used for, well, just about everything. (I've extolled its virtues enough times already, so I'll leave it at that for now.)

    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )
      The Newton's handwriting recognition was absolute shit, and the device was incredibly slow and anemic.

      My father's first PDA was a Newton, it lasted a year before being supplanted by a Palm Professional. The Palm Pro blew the Newton away in terms of responsiveness, and Graffiti only took 30 minutes to learn and unlike Newton's handwriting recognition, actually WORKED.

      Sadly, Palm got lazy and started coasting. After a progression of Palm Pro (hand-me-down when dad got a Palm III), Palm III (hand-me-down aft
    • The Newton was never meant to be a PDA, as it was made before that term was even cobbled together.

      Actually, the term "PDA" was coined by Sculley to describe the Newton. Sculley was fond of personifying technology ("Personal Digital Assistant", "Knowledge Navigator", etc.)

  • Newton? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mgabrys_sf ( 951552 )
    If they decide to enter the ultra-portable computer market ala OQO and others, it will not - ever - be called "Newton". No-way, nada, snowball in hell has a better chance.


    Oh - I don't know - apart from the fact that that project was the darling of the very man WHO HELPED OUSTER JOBS IN 1985. But as we all know - Steve Jobs wouldn't dare knee-jerk product decision based on grudges or personal feelings. Naw. Never. Pay it no mind.

    Newton's back - ayep...
  • by Black Art ( 3335 )
    They will just brick it if I install anything "unauthorized" on it.
  • Next up: (Score:4, Funny)

    by Delusion_ ( 56114 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:32PM (#20787553) Homepage
    The Lisa II.
  • by DingerX ( 847589 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:34PM (#20787573) Journal
    First off, he thinks the UMPC problem is basically interface.

    It isn't. UMPCs suffer because they're way too much computer for a portable device, and cost way too much. Let's face it, most people don't need desktop power shrunk to a 7 inch screen; we could use it, but only if it didn't cost more. The problem is that UMPCs are cool, but they cost considerably more than the cheapest laptop.

    He also mentions Nokia's upcoming tablet, then dismisses it out-of-hand by pointing to the company's dispersion. Hold on. That's about the only reason that doesn't make sense. This product will be Nokia's third generation entry into the field, after the n770 and the n800. You can argue that "Nokia hasn't gotten it right yet, and they're not this time"; you can claim that "They won't be able to get the retail channels for their 'non-cellphone cellophone'"; you can claim that they still haven't put a basic software suite together -- all those would be questionable, but valid responses. But "Nokia has too many pots in the fire?" Uh, they have _one_ pot in the fire, and it happens to use a lot of the same parts as their cellphone mobile devices (reducing their cost of entry into the market).

    Finally, he says the "Newton II" will be a winner if it's under $1000. Dude, we're talking about mobile devices here. Gadget freaks, especially those who get their toys for free, love all the cool stuff that comes with the high price tag. What Apple and Nokia are showing is that you don't need a $1000 device to give fundamental internet access.

    Do the math this way: take a $400 internet tablet, and a $600 desktop computer. What are the limitations going to be using these two on a daily basis vs. what a $1000 table can do? Now remember that most of your target market already has a computer, and one better than $600. The real killer in this field is going to be cheap and with a good interface, not $999 and the apple brand. That way lies the Newton I
  • by rainer_d ( 115765 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:40PM (#20787661) Homepage
    Just like the iPhone, until Steve unwrapped it one day.

  • In a heartbeat! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bodhammer ( 559311 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:47PM (#20787759)
    I can very close to buying a Touch but it is still crippled. No BT, no calendar edit, no mic, etc.

    Here is what I want:

    No bigger than the iPhone
    SD Slot
    32GB Flash
    8 Hr Battery
    • I don't think it has a microphone, but bluetooth should make up for that. It's also a little bigger than the iPhone. []
    • You don't seem to have done your homework on the Touch. - The Touch is smaller than the iPhone in thickness, the same height, and very, very slightly wider than the iPhone. I've compared the two - they're the same form factor, besides the thinness of the Touch. - I doubt that you'll ever see an iPod with an SD Slot. Why? Apple prides itself on vertical integration, and simplicity. Having an expansion slot would mean that Apple doesn't control the entire "product experience." It would add unnecessary thick
    • (Sorry, I forgot I was in HTML formatting the last time I posted)

      You don't seem to have done your homework on the Touch - some of these features the Touch has, others, you're quite likely never to see adopted.

      - The Touch is smaller than the iPhone in thickness, the same height, and very, very slightly wider than the iPhone. I've compared the two - they're the same form factor, besides the thinness of the Touch.

      - I doubt that you'll ever see an iPod with an SD Slot. Why? Apple prides itself on vertic
      • I have done my homework and read countless reviews. That is why I have not bought either an iPhone or Touch.

        That is also why if Stevie boy wants to sell me a true PDA for $300-500 he needs to have the features I listed to have me as a customer. I know what the size of a Touch and iPhone is, and I know that the iPhone does not have WiFi and the Touch does. I know the iPhone has bluetooth and the touch doesn't. I want both, is that ok with you? The Newton had a PCMCIA slot, why should this new device not
        • I have done my homework and read countless reviews. That is why I have not bought either an iPhone or Touch.

          Oh, really now...

          know that the iPhone does not have WiFi and the Touch does.

          Really? Huh. Guess I somehow unlocked some magical high-speed data connection on my iPhone, but I'll be darned if it only works near WiFi points...

          Do some more homework. []
          • Oops, I stand corrected. the iPhone does have WiFi. I can't have one because of work contracts and I don't want multiple phones. I did not research the details on the iPhone.

            I prematurely elaborated... sorry...

            I still want both Bluetooth and Wifi in my non-iPhone, non-Touch, non crippled PDA device.
    • Can I have a pony too?

      Seriously, with the specs you're asking for, that's not going to cost any less than $1000. Can't be any larger than an iPhone, but somehow manage to have an 8hr batt with wifi and BT? I don't think you understand how these devices are made.
  • I hope so, but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by astrashe ( 7452 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:51PM (#20787821) Journal
    I just bought an iPod touch. And it's pretty much the greatest gadget I've ever owned. I love it.

    I think a lot of what makes it great, though, is that the interface for Safari is heavily tweaked for web surfing. It's really easy to pan and scan around, and you can pinch and expand to zoom in and out. One of the most useful features is the ability to tap on a section of a web page and have it adjust the zoom intelligently to frame the text or photo you're dealing with. And then there's that turning the device on its side and having the screen roll with you thing.

    The result of all of this is that you can surf really well on a very small device. I wouldn't have thought a full browser could be so usable on such a small device, but they did it, and it's great.

    The other apps, though, aren't nearly as usable. The music player has cover flow, which is really quick and useful -- I didn't think it would be before I bought the touch, but it is. It's not that they're bad. It's just that all of that insanely great UI stuff is tweaked specifically for web browsing. The stuff that it does is aimed at that problem, and a lot of times the features aren't even implemented in other apps.

    The point is that what they've done is different from making a new kind of widget set for portable devices. On a normal desktop system, and on a normal PDA, you have a widget set that lets apps run in GUIs and behave in standard ways. This has very specific gui tweaks for a key app, safari.

    I think the philosophical change of the touch (and the iPhone, obviously) is that the designers seem to be working from the premise that usable UI on such a small device is challenging enough that you have to tweak things very specifically for the app of the moment, and not just use something more general like MFC.

    So Safari is tweaked out brilliantly, and it's flat out amazing. The music player is ok, it's certainly functional, but it's not so amazing. It's not "I can't believe how cool this is" great.

    I kind of wish I had my old iPod video interface back, honestly. Or I wish I could zoom in and out, to change the size of the type on my podcasts, because sometimes long titles are hard to read.

    So the question is, how are you going to make a really great PDA? Do you have to have genius UI designers working on every app? I mean, how are you going to do IM on these things? How do you get around that "entering text sucks" barrier? And there's going to be some usability problem like that popping up over and over again in app after app.

    (I think this is part of why they want to keep these things locked down -- I believe that Jobs really hates the idea of people running ugly unusable apps on his devices.)

    I mean, they could make a PDA, and they could use the tech they already have, and it would probably be just another PDA with a standard general interface, and an insanely great web browser. And that would be cool. But I think they're more ambitious than that.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
      I don't think you have to individually tweak each app to the genius UI designer extent. What you have to do is get across the point (in your SDK preferably) that small devices demand a DIFFERENT UI. NOT a miniature version of Windows.

      As for text entry, it's always going to suck. Handwriting sucks on paper, never mind when you try and do it on a little tiny piece of paper and have a computer try to interpret it. Voice? I don't want to sit around talking to my computer, certainly not in public! Small de
  • Yes! sad to see Palm died recently, really like it as well.
  • Here's why:

    1. The screen, by definition, isn't big enough.
    2. Handwriting recognition sucks.
    3. Speech recognition sucks.

    2 and 3 are the big problems, because if you have 100% accurate speech OR handwriting recognition, you can get away with a smaller screen, since you don't need to see a lot of menus and such if your can simply "talk" to your computer.

    Sadly, we're still pretty far away from truly universal speech/handwriting recognition. Which means that if you really want a portable computer, you pretty muc
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
      That depends on what you mean by a PDA.

      Yeah, the usual Palm device tries to be too many of the wrong things. A device like an iPhone with a decent sized screen, good web browser, wifi and good SDK would be perfect. NO handwriting recognition, but a touch screen keyboard for entering quick stuff like chat messages, fast e-mail replies and calendar entries.

      Ebook reader, web page viewer, RSS reader, calendar, document viewer, music player... perfect.

      You're right - the problem with PDAs is no keyboard. Which
    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )
      No, the PDA market is basically dead because everyone wanted convergence with their phones.

      PDAs live on in smartphones and PDAphones. All of the previous PDA operating systems that are still alive (PalmOS, Windows CE/Mobile) are now in convergence devices. (Previously known as smartphones, but Microsoft has bastardized that term to mean crippled devices without a touchscreen.) Non-phone Palm and Windows Mobile devices still do exist, but they have insignificant market share compared to their integrated p
    • I *despise* handwriting. I don't like doing it on paper, why would I want to do so electronically? Typing is much easier, and clearer for the device to grok what you are writing. What are good are gestures, but that's a separate matter from handwriting recognition.

      I did kind of like Grafitti but more because it was a sort of gesture-based keyboard than it was handwriting. I currently find the iPhone keyboard to be the best solution for small device input, because I think dynamic per-app keyboard layouts
  • Since I HAVE to have a cell phone, my next PDA must include it. I don't want to carry 2 devices anymore. I don't want to converge my toaster and my car stereo, but I do want to converge the 2 things I take everywhere: phone & PDA*.

    If Apple's PDA is also a phone, and if it is an open platform, AND if its capabilities are on par with what I can already get from the Windows Mobile world--640x480 screen, bluetooth, wifi, crapload** of software--then maybe I will buy in to it.

    * I would have converged already
  • Depends on whether it met my needs as well as or better than my current setup.

    I'd like something smaller, lighter and preferably tougher than my black MacBook. But I need to be able to type (fast), get photos onto it from my DSLR, and burn stuff to DVDs. That might be a lot to ask of a "newton ii"
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
      You need your MacBook. That stuff just doesn't work well on anything smaller.

      I want to do all those things too, but not ALL the time. So I'd love to be able to leave my MPB in my car and take my iTouch-like PDA with me in case I want to look something up on the web or read a book.
  • newton joke (Score:3, Funny)

    by aquabat ( 724032 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @06:15PM (#20788787) Journal
    Ah, the Apple Newton - ahead of it's time in the field of handwriting recognition. Reminds me of a good joke:

    Q: How many Newtons does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A: Foux! There to eat lemons, axe gravy soup.

  • If these rumors are accurate, then what was the point of producing the iPod Touch as a separate product? There certainly wasn't any need for a test market of such a device, since we already had the iPhone. The iPod Touch is merely a crippled version of the former and offers little in benefits above the iPhone itself. Any Apple branded PDA is likely to be almost identical in hardware to the Touch (WiFi, touch display, etc...) with the only real difference being in the software itself.

    Most likely this would b
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
      Why have the iPod Classic, iPod Nano and iPod Touch?

      Apple's philosophy is to give you the choices (they think) you need, no more, no less.

      An Apple PDA would probably cost a bit more than an iPod Touch, probably a little bigger, maybe a few more features. Not the same market.
  • Let's see, the Newton died in 1998; at that time a current desktop CPU was roughly 200MHz and 500 MIPS. Something that could fit the power, heat and price profiles of a handheld was more like 50MHz and 50 MIPS. The MessagePad 2100 had 4MB of RAM, for god's sake. Imagine how much modern software you could run with 50 MIPS and 4MB! Arguably, the Newton was running software that was way ahead of its time, albeit hamstrung by having to run on hardware that was merely OF its time.

    Handwriting recognition is h
  • My dream gadget would be something a somewhat larger than a iPhone/Palm/Zaurus, smaller than the Thinkpad X-series I usually carry. Tablet form-factor, probably sans keyboard, but with a well-protected screen? Reasonably open architecture. SD-card reader that could play MP3 and Xvid. Bluetooth, wifi, USB-on-the-go. The critical feature, though, is the screen... high-res, low power, readable in the sun. A black and white mode is fine for this. I want to get away from paper books. I want to load a few
  • What would I do? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by johnkzin ( 917611 ) on Friday September 28, 2007 @06:50PM (#20789159)
    If it's much bigger than my N800, doesn't have any kind of physical keyboard* support, and is as closed/limited as the 'Touch or iPhone? Then I'll stick with my N800.

    I chose the n800 over Apple because:

    = open - great 3rd party app ecosystem (incl ssh and vnc)

    = bluetooth keyboard, stylus screen keyboard, finger screen keyboard*

    An N800 + freedom input slim (thumb) keyboard == micro laptop. Plus, theres rumors that the nextgen will have a slide-out keyboard. And WiMax.

    (* I just wish the N800 had support for usb keyboards, like the dreamgear mini (thumb) keyboard ... Apple will have to beat the N800 in this regard ... and I greatly preferred the N800 finger keyboard over the iPhone's)

    The N800 has been a big surprise for me. I have been a NeXT fan for 15 years, and as a result hated any Linux gui I came across before Hildon (thee n800's gui). I've also always been a pro bsd bigot (and anti-windows bigot ... so windows mobile is right out). So Apple has been my natural choice for the last 7 years. I bought the n800 for the above reasons (bluetooth keyboard, ssh, open 3rd party software platform), instead of the iPhone or iPod Touch, and am in love with it.

    If they get it to sync contacts, calendar, and bookmarks with google (or bookmarks with delicious), and maybe more dynamic/integrated spell checking, then I don't know why I'd ever look back. Esp since someone is working on a version of hildon for the desktop.

    So, most likely, ven though 9 months ago I'd have drooled over an OS X PDA like the rumored Newton II ... at this point, I doubt I'll notice nor care.
  • It was held back due to obscene pricing, then killed off by Jobs in revenge when he returned.

    And ya, i did buy one, and ya it hurt the pocket book. Still have it, and it still works.

    While i dont believe it will ever return, it would be a 'really great thing', as long as it was created in the same light as the orginainal. A true PDA from the start, not some sort of desktop OS shoehorned into a too small handheld device.
  • by m2943 ( 1140797 )
    Given Apple's recent direction towards more proprietary systems, more restrictions, and more proprietary APIs, no, I wouldn't buy one. I also don't really like their dev tools.
  • As a Newton developer from way back, I couldn't resist having my iPlod Touche engraved, -Newton MessagePad II-. The only real difference between Type I and the new type iI is the lack of apps, which will be overcome using the web SDKs that are supported. no need for the NTK. The more I use my iPT, the more of the Newton I see in it.
  • The late lamented Sony UX-50 Palm-based PDA of several years ago was (and I'll go out on a limb here) the finest PDA that *will have ever been built*. A usable thumb keyboard, WiFi, BlueTooth, still camera, video, audio record and playback, removable storage, and a fairly active Palm-based third-party app base. It worked well with my Macs and Windows. And it was pretty darn small. Its few drawbacks mostly were related not to its technology (which was amazing for three or four years ago and still solid n
  • Touch is coming to the Mac. Look at the glass on the new iMac, that thing is touchscreen ready.

    It has nothing to do with the Newton, though. There will be no stylus and no handwriting and no soups. This is just the evolution of the mouse.

    Once you use an iPhone or iPod touch for a while you want to touch the Mac's screen, you want to scroll Web pages with a flick. When I make a Web page now I can't wait to see it on my iPhone so I can touch it, move it around. Even a graphics tablet doesn't feel as intimate

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