[NTLK] Palm vs. Newton

Forrest Buffenmyer newton_phoenix at mindspring.com
Tue Feb 18 06:38:43 EST 2020

Every year or so I get out all my various PDA-type devices and check to be certain they still function I replace batteries (though I prefer to store most without due to corrosion fears), and re-evaluate if they could be used today for any functions.

As you might well imagine, the answer to that last point—even after much wishful thinking and deep thought—is “no”. Sadly, with each passing year it’s more and more NO (as if NO itself had various degrees of NO-ness).

Each year, they become more and more obsolete—again, if there are various degrees of obsolete-ness. (And I would argue that there probably are.)

It’s the sheer joy of using the devices again! Yeah, I could type sooo much faster and better with an external keyboard connected to my iPad Pro than the Newton MP2100 with its external keyboard. (Don’t even consider the virtual one.)

But it’s not as much FUN.

And that’s the core of it. There is just so much time. It takes waaay longer to execute most functions on these older machines, and time is just so precious. It outweighs in most cases the joy of nostalgia, of using an older favorite machine. That, and most times said machine just can’t do it any more (try connecting to the Internet with Windows CE, circa 2002, like that found on my HP Jornada—good luck browsing anywhere meaningful).

I greatly enjoy writing on my Data General One Model 2T, with its early version of a backlit display and hard (fixed) drive that sounds like a small vacuum cleaner—and it has a real keyboard that clickity-clicks so nicely with great tactile feedback, not the mushy feel of these modern things. Yes, any writing is confined to that device UNLESS I want to save the file to a 3 1/2” floppy (dual density) and then put that disk into my Beige G3, itself way obsolete. But, there I can access the disk and either email the contents to myself or burn to a CD or DVD.

Oh I almost forgot: it’s written using Word Perfect (4.2 no less). Uh oops. Well, I guess not. (Unless I take the disk to another obsolete machine, with WP on it. Another set of hoops.)

It’s just not practical to write with it any more. As Frank says, there are better and faster devices now.

“Life is easier if you try to use the gadget that can do a particular job best.” Amen, and well said.

So, the machines get put away again until next year.

Or, until I finally realize they are only taking up space and I should just move on and sell them.


But even so, I’ll still write stuff on my Data General One. Because, you know, I can. And, I’m stubborn that way.


Sent from my T-Mobile 6th Generation iPad 9.7"

> On Feb 17, 2020, at 3:41 PM, NewtonTalk <newtontalk at pda-soft.de> wrote:
>> Frank, well thought out as always.
> Thanks (blush)...
>> the Newton really fail us because of its poor synchronization qualities,
>> or are these things we now take for granted, so the disappointment is in
> hindsight?
> Apart from never having had the impression that any of my Newtons failed me:
> The reasons for buying my various Palm Pilots were all quite simple.
> a) It was affordable, and you could get it everywhere. As opposed to
> Newtons. If I hadn't been given an OMP at an Apple developer conference a
> long time ago, I might still be unaware today of what a Newton is. Apple had
> next to no advertising at that time, and even if you went into an Apple
> store with heaps of cash in your pocket, which I did when I intended to buy
> Apple's first color laptop, you were unlikely to bring home what you set out
> for because, although it had been announced weeks before, it wasn't
> available. At least not in Germany. I tried all stores in Hamburg, which
> isn't exactly a village. All I could have bought that day was the black and
> white version of this brand spanking new model, complete with a nasty flaw
> in the display. This was the only real piece of hardware I found in all
> Hamburg. 
> b) Synchronization was easy, and it came out of the box unless you wanted to
> synchronize with Outlook.
> c) I didn't have to mess around with cables. My Palms always came with a
> docking station that was solid and reliable. Plugging the Palm in and
> pressing the sync button took less than five seconds.
> d) Palms were small. They fit in my trouser pocked, which even the OMP did
> not. I never was a fan of cargo pants, and I never carry anything in a
> separate bag because I would forget it somewhere within a week. So for me
> Newtons are machines for home use.
> d) Palms did most of what they were designed for exceedingly well. I was a
> big fan of the Fitaly keyboard. Entering text that way was reliable and
> fast. Way faster than the OMP's on-screen keyboard.
> However, I hardly ever wrote prose on my Palm machines. The screen was
> simply too small, and if you wanted to edit things after writing, the Newton
> beat any Palm hands down.
>> In those days I really disliked the Palm, mostly I think because it did
> and had things
>> other PDAs?like the Newton and Zaurus I owned?did not. Full color, great
> GUI. I guess I was jealous.
> I guess that's the wrong strategy. Life is easier if you try to use the
> gadget that can do a particular job best. These days, I wouldn't even think
> of writing more than a handful of paragraphs on a Newton. I wouldn't even
> use an eMate although it has a decent keyboard, making me ten times faster
> than on a Newton. Speech recognition on my latest Android phone is so
> incredibly good that I would never use the (stupid) Android keyboard.
> The funny thing is that I've never missed a color screen. Neither on my
> Palms nor on my Newtons. The last two or three generations of Palms I owned
> actually had color screens, and I didn't see any real benefit. I mostly used
> this device for managing contacts and to dos, and this worked just as well
> in black & white. Even better in my opinion, since the battery lasted much
> longer. 
> Cheers
> Frank
> -- Newton software and hardware at http://www.pda-soft.de
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> http://newtontalk.net/
> http://twitter.com/newtontalk

More information about the NewtonTalk mailing list