Re: [NTLK] [OT] [iPh] What I think of Newtons and iPhones

From: W. Guy Finley <>
Date: Fri Jul 13 2007 - 21:14:21 EDT

Guys, I like the Newton, I really do, but this is silly.

On Jul 13, 2007, at 4:01 PM, Joshua Cearley wrote:

> Barring the fact that synchronization is a bit unruly (which is a sign
> of age, for the most part), I still think the Newton is ahead of the
> iPhone as far as functionality and features go. Here are some key
> points about my opinion I would like to outline, and possibly discuss
> (if this can be done sanely) between the iPhone and the Newton.
> iPhone: Up-link.
> The iPhone is usable *right now* for phone calls, call conferencing,
> and generally all of the normal uses you would expect in any phone. So
> in this aspect, the iPhone is readily usable for Internet-based
> information right from the beginning. Newtons don't officially offer
> this capability, and to my knowledge it hasn't been hacked in yet.

So the iPhone squeaks by apparently on functionality it does have
over functionality that the Newton could-but-in-10-years-has-never-
had? There is no contest -- I got my Newton to sync using Newtsync
only after many many tries to get everything configured right. It
took me less time to sync and activate that iPhone transferring my
phone service than it took me to find the cables I needed to sync my

> Newton: Expandability
> The newton has a PCI card slot (and the MP2*00 have two) which
> could/could've been use for virtually anything.

Not really, they only supported Type II cards (other than the eMate)
and things have progressed well beyond that. This is why when
searching for 802.11 cards or Ethernet cards one has to take great
care about which one one buys. There is no 802.11g like the iPhone
has, there is no Bluetooth support without a lot of effort for
something that is built in and just works on the iPhone. In fact,
the more I have listened to this comparison the more it sounds like
PC people arguing with Mac people. Mac people say "it just works"
and PC people are all about tweaking and hacking and customizing.

> For example, a GSM
> modem could be built for the Newton which would allow it to have the
> ability to handle what the iPhone does in the phone capacity.

Handspring did this, it was called the Visor Phone before they made
the Treo. I had one, it worked reasonably well. I used it for about
two weeks I think before I popped the sim card out and put it in a
regular phone. It failed the pocket test miserably, it was large and
bulky (yet far smaller than the Newton) and it was amazingly silly to
try to use as a phone. Have you ever held something that weighted
that much up to your ear for an extended period of time? So again,
theoretical things the Newton can do to what the iPhone does superbly
out of the box.

> This is
> why I think the Newton is technically better, because while it isn't
> exactly in the original scope of the device it is possible (should you
> convince a company to aid you with the protocols, etc) to make the
> device do this. The iPhone can't be expanded, you just have to pay in
> to the slush fund and buy another phone to get any kind of new
> hardware functions.

Expansion slots and portable devices don't mix very well --
Handspring had the Springboard and it never took off. It could do
some cool things, GPS, the phone I mentioned above, all sorts of
stuff. It just made the footprint big, odd, unwieldy and not very
practical for everyday use.

> iPhone: Media
> Newtons can't do this because of space, CPU, and display restrictions.
> It's really one of the only things they just *can't* do without
> building a new model entirely. So in this regard, I think the iPhone
> is better /if you are content with just music and movies/.

You know what I have found about my iPhone? I now have my photo
album with me wherever I go. Someone asks me about my kid I pop out
my iPhone and show them the recent snapshots I've taken. It's
replaced half my wallet as well. Yes, the iPod did it before but not
in this form factor, not this beautifully (if you haven't seen the
iPhone screen you really have no clue just what a difference it is)
and not within one device that goes where I go, not something I have
to lug along, find cases for, create interesting ways to package --
all my pants have pockets. I suppose the Newton could do this --
"Hey, take a look at my kid in monochrome! Look, I can change him
green too!" Maybe we can see if Ted Turner could develop some type
of color overlay so that the Newton could do this.

> Newton: Software and Data
> Newtons store all of the data on local storage media and memory card
> slots, whereas on an iPhone the only data kept is media files
> side-loaded from your computer and also any PIM data you may have on
> it.

Except you are limited to 28 MB (I believe, not going to look for
this) where the low end iPhone has 4 gigs. Please, think about what
you're saying. The base iPhone stores 1,498 times more data than the
Newton possibly can. Why does it matter that the Newton has cards
and the iPhone doesn't? It doesn't need cards to move information,
it has Wi-fi, Bluetooth and USB. Please, think about this for a
second -- this is like comparing a MacBook Pro to a PowerBook 5300.
The PowerBook has all these bays where you can slide different
devices into, etc. So the P5300 has to be better than my MacBook Pro
right? I mean I have no bays!! I have only one slot that hardly
anyone makes anything for!! What a terrible piece of junk the
MacBook Pro is!

> On a Newton, I can also write a small game and install on it (or
> just put one already made) and play it when I'm bored. Or I can
> install finance software to track dining expenses, etc. Financial data
> is particularly sensitive for many people, so having this on a hard
> access point is a bonus.

iPhone is already doing this, it's web based and for those who think
that web based isn't real application work you are sadly mistaken.
The estimating program I use at work now is entirely browser based
(running locally) and it has replaced a Windows application. More
and more applications are doing the same thing especially in business
with shared computing. They also have a Texas Hold'Em game out
already that is really darn cool:
page=poker/index.htm It soundly obliterates any game I have seen for
the Newton.

I can also IM on my iPhone --
something I could never get working on my Newton. Did I mention I
can IM over EDGE? I suppose if we had our theroretical PCMCIA Type
II radio module sticking out the side of our Newt we might be able to
get EDGE going too.

> iPhone on the other hand, currently (though we hope that they will
> soon) does not even allow you to install your own software (let alone
> write your own) for it.

Sure it does, can you write HTML? Javascript?

> Apple has done a good job venting this
> argument with the [somewhat complete] Web 2.0 support in the phone's
> browser, but this doesn't really fix the problem.

Really? I have IM and Games already using it, what's the problem?

> On an iPhone, if you
> don't have a connection (like on a plane or in a subway) you ONLY have
> what's been side-loaded on to the device (or what has been entered in
> to the PIM or Notes program).

Which I've already established above is 0.07% of what the iPhone can
store (base model).

> So in short, the way I figure up these devices:
> The iPhone is just a smart phone with a "cool" presentation. There are
> quite a few locked phones out there that don't allow custom software,
> but it's almost a given that smart phones can have them put on via
> ActiveSync.

You can't compare developer support for a device that has been out a
month with devices that have been out for years. When the Treo came
out it had the advantage of running Palm software but when the Palm
came out guess what? There was nothing, just like there is with the
iPhone. Oh....wait....3 weeks and we already have a game and IM
support and various searching and shopping applications, a wi-fi
locator. Dang, there is ZERO 3rd party stuff going on for the iPhone.

> Newton is a future-proof PDA.

As long as you don't mind black and white, obsolete PCMCIA cards,
real web browsing, real rich email, and multi-media capability.

> Whether they meant it to live as long as
> it has or not, it's still alive today and they will probably stay
> alive until they all hit max entropy. And through OpenEinstein it's OS
> will outlive the devices.

The Newton has lived a much longer life than anyone expected, it was
a great product, the community is super. I know it's hard to let go
but you KNEW this had to happen sometime. I hope these side projects
keep going and some more things can be added to let the Newton OS
live elsewhere. But it's an abandoned OS and I really don't think it
can be resurrected to ever seriously compete with the iPhone or its

> As with anything, we will have to see how it
> turns out. Even with an opened SDK though, the iPhone still has no
> expansion slots. :P
> P.S. I hope this doesn't end up as flame bait, since I really do not
> mean it to be. Comments and new points of view would be greatly
> welcomed and thought over in this discussion.

I didn't want to light one up but it looks as though I pretty much
have. I just can't understand the mindset in this. THE only
argument I see is on HWR and to a novice, there is no comparison, the
iPhone virtual keyboard blows away HWR. I learned to type rapidly in
my iPhone in a day or two, faster than I could ever go on the Newt
and in 1/10th of the time.

Somehow I think if iPhone wasn't Steve's baby and maybe if it was
even called Newton and the OS more resembled it (than it already does
IMHO) there wouldn't be this silly reaction to it. It really is silly.


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Received on Fri Jul 13 21:14:28 2007

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