Re: [NTLK] What the Newton "essence" is? - WAS: "Upgrading NIE" (the Newton is nearly dead)

From: Jon Glass <>
Date: Sun Jun 04 2006 - 10:23:02 EDT

On 6/4/06, Jon Scordia <> wrote:
> I agree, and I welcome this debate!
> I have to say though, that I feel that part of the Newton's 'essence'
> is it's form factor. It's a combination that's not yet been beaten:

I agree. For instance, the Palm now has a screen resolution of 320x320
or even 320x480--which is the same as the MP2K series.... but which is
easier to work on? The Newton, by far! I feel so much less cramped on
my Newton vs. my Palm. The size really does matter... That said, the
bulk of the Newton's size is not the screen, but the rest of its
electronics and mechanics--two PC card slots, for goodness sakes!
Granted, it's wonderful in use, but it does add to the bulk. However,
one can live with it. ;-) However....

> 1. An intuitive, easy to use, flexible and very functional GUI.
> 2. A useable, holdable, writeable, robust, tactile and highly legible
> screen/box/stylus combo.

I still prefer the Newton's GUI overall.... Especially the integrated
HWR and gesture-based editing. It truly was a pen-based design. At
that, it is light years ahead of everything since. There's not one
that "gets it". For goodness sakes, on the Palm, you have to access
menus to copy and paste! How lame! I've looked for a Newton-like way
of editing on the Palm, and nobody has done it--and I would pay for
the privilege! However, that said, the Palm has one thing all over the
Newton--hardware buttons! I have come to love those things... You can
jump right to the calendar with one button push. And further pushes
tab you through the various calendar views. Push the Names button, and
you are in your names. Further presses, tabs you through the
categories--same for todos and memos/notes. The 5 way button pad is
another big plus. If this could be incorporated into the Einstein, I
would be in hog heaven! Give me the Newton on a PalmTX-sized device
(it runs at the same resolution as the MP2k) with working buttons, and
I would think that the ultimate compromise.... If there were one idea
that we could use on the Newton, IMO, it's hardware buttons. :-)

> EVERY other PDA to date has been designed by the marketing men, aided
> and abetted by the techie boffins, and NEVER by, or for, the user.
> Their maxim is:
> 1. Make it as small as possible. (can you use it?!)
> 2. Cram in as much stuff as possible. (will you use it?!)

I think that Palm in later years has become guilty of this, but in my
playing with my Palm in recent months, I've learned that the "Zen of
Palm" is a real ideal--not the same as the Newton's, but it was real,
and still shows in the Palms that exist today. I don't agree with
every decision that they made, but it was obvious that the original
Palm really was thought out for the user--those hardware buttons, for
instance.... What they did was look at the Newton, and saw where it
failed, and did everything where it failed oppositely--sometimes it
works--buttons, simplified editing, etc. and in others, it didn't
work--the dependence on menus, and lack of solid on-screen editing
capabilities. However, the original Palm engineers certainly tried to
work within the boundaries they had--it's no Newton, but then again,
who succeeded on the market? (bad thing to say, I know..... but there
is much truth in this)

In any case, I think the comparisons are good and healthy. It was the
original Palm designer's ability to look at the Newton in the cold,
hard light of day, which led them to design the Palm, and led them to
become the major market success when the Newton never could get past a
niche following. So, we can learn something from them, IMO, especially
when we are looking for new hardware to move our beloved NOS to. I
think the time to consider such things is sooner, rather than later.

Speaking of which, how possible would it be to port the Einstein to
the Palm hardware--in particular, the T/X form factor?

 -Jon Glass
Krakow, Poland
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Received on Sun Jun 4 10:23:04 2006

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