RetroMacCast

Where great old Macs live again!

Currently, I am without a PDA. I have, somewhere, got an old Sony Clie that I never really got on with and I used to have an XDA Trion from O2 which, despite running Windows Mobile, was pretty good - I could make calls and surf the web on it and it kept my diary up to date. However, it died very quickly and I've been PDA-less since.

I have an iPod Touch, but I don't find the calendar quick enough to add meetings to and parts of the iPod Touch/iPhone interface are a bit counter-intuitive (I can update a calendar via the web, but it won't reflect my desktop calendar, etc) and that makes me wary of the iPhone, although I can see the appeal of them. I think that, primarily, it's the fact that the only way to enter notes, or text of any kind is to use an on-screen keyboard. My old XDA had a slide-out keyboard (as well as handwriting recognition), as does my old Clie, so why can't the iPod Touch or iPhone allow you to use a stylus/biro to enter text?

I don't like the Clie purely because it's Palm-based and the different functions feel totally disparate, not to mention it's a bit of a pain to sync with anything. Oh and the battery life is poor. Not as bad as the XDA, but not great. So, I'm stuck and, given that I work on client-site for an Agency, my schedule is pretty hectic and keeping track of everything using bits of paper is a nightmare. What I need is something that will buzz me when it's time to run to another meeting, not something that makes the process of keeping a schedule up to date into a task itself. I think that the iPhone/iPod Touch are great and they have a definite purpose, but I don't think that they fit into the requirements of a business user too well. Ok the iPhone lets me check email when I'm out of the office, but to be honest, I've got a laptop and if I am working, I'm in the office. It's the scheduling side of things that are still a bit flaky and, unless that is fixed with a software update, I can't see the iPhone being the next Blackberry in the business market. It will remain popular because creatives lust after it and it's great as a consumer device, though.

So, given that I work on Macs and that I *really* don't want another XDA, what am I left with as an option? Well, for the phone side of things, I am simply going to get another Motorola Razr, as my old V3 was the best phone I'd had since my joyous days of Nokia 7110 ownership, but the PDA side of things is still an issue. I don't need it to play video, look pretty, play music, have a billion colours on screen (as it'll only be used for a calendar and text), surf the web or even pick up email (although it's nice), as I can always get my email via Gmail if needs be. No, what I need is something that lets me take notes quickly, schedule my day and change it rapidly, as well as sync easily with a Mac. It should be rugged enough to survive in my bag, but it doesn't need to be microscopic as I always have to carry a bag anyway. It needs to be light, simple to use and have a long battery life, so I don't need to lug a charger with me. In fact, after something like 12 years, the best PDA for the professional still seems to be the Apple Newton.

I'm off to scrounge up some spare cash and head to eBay...

Views: 5

Comment by Ken on September 17, 2008 at 10:36pm
I just nabbed a Newton 2100 and it is in the mail. We should swap notes in the future.
Comment by Wholly Mindless on September 17, 2008 at 11:34pm
Keep us up-to-date Chance!
Comment by Chance on September 18, 2008 at 4:21am
So, what are you going to use your newton for, or is it just to add to the collection?
What I'd really like is the functionality of the 2100 in the smaller case of the older Newton 100 series. Of course, I won't get this, so I guess I'll just have to grab what I can...

If I was an electronics whizz, I'd figure out a way to get the Newton innards into a smaller form-factor (i.e inside a 7" Tablet display), as I have a feeling that it is the batteries and PCMCIA slots that cause the bulk. By hard-wiring in a more modern power source, I think it would be easily possible to halve the thickness and weight. Of course if you were that way inclined, no doubt you could wire in the extra memory and a WiFi card, making the PCMCIA slots pretty much redundant and removing yet more bulk.

Surely there must be some genius with a soldering iron who is up to the task out there somewhere?!

Actually, I rather like the 2100 as it reminds me of how I pictured the Hitchhikers Guide looking (actually, I initially felt it looked more like the original Psion organiser, but that changed when I saw a Newton!). Not only that, but I have large hands, so fiddly stuff gets on my nerves!
Comment by Ken on September 18, 2008 at 10:36am
What am I going to use the Newton for? It will get used... and take up space in my collection. Every working machine I own does at least one thing special. I like to have at least one "wow" factor when I legitimize my collection to others. The Newton I picked up has a WiFi card. I think I will set it up as a server of some kind.

It will be hard to legitimize its everyday use when I've got an iPhone 3G. Carrying a beauty like the Newton 2100 around for everyday use in a school almost guarantees its certain demise.
Comment by David Cohen on September 21, 2008 at 12:26pm
I had Newtons for a while. They are really fun, and were SO ahead of their time.

Unfortunately, the support sites are starting to die away now, and it is becomingly increasingly hard to get information on and off them easily. Which makes them less and less relevant as old-school PDA substitutes.

Look on the Newton more as a fun collectors item and less as your day-to-day PDA and you will be fine. And don't store it with batteries loaded - they will leak!

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