YANN – Yet Another Newton Newbie

eMate 300In two articles for DIYPlanner, one about the MessagePad 2100 and another about the eMate, I mentioned how I’ve got the decade-old Apple Newton bug. Given that the site is mostly about paper-based fetishes, there’s only so much I can say there without upsetting the apple cart. (No pun intended.) Here I can say a little more.

It’s a little bizarre: I normally receive a half-dozen email per article, in addition to the 6-12 comments left on the site. These Newton articles not only generated a lot of comments, but some 30 email, and were picked up by The Unofficial Apple Weblog and –giving me a brief and unexpected laugh-out-loud instant in a supermarket check-out line– on the MacBreak Weekly podcast. Most of the email posed the same conundrum: “I’ve always wanted a Newton, too…. Should I buy one on eBay?”

Now, I really hate giving advice like this, and for several reasons. First, the costs of Newtons in the past few weeks on eBay seem to have jumped significantly, no doubt owing to its sudden re-appearance in various media outlets in the weeks leading up to the iPhone. Second, I prefer not to be responsible for someone bidding for a Newton on an impulse and winding up with a $200 device that seems almost antiquated for most modern-day uses. Third, and most importantly, I’ve only had my Newtons for a few weeks. That means I am a base and uninformed Newt Newbie. I’m not fit to give such advice. I tell these people that the Newtons I have work for my purposes, but that they should join the NewtonTalk mailing list, which is overflowing with wise old masters dispensing advice and practical knowledge.

That these machines are working for me is evidenced by my sudden ability to write articles, notes, lists and other text in a focussed environment. While I dearly love my MacBook Pro, it’s filled with distractions, not the least of which is its proclivity to braise the flesh of my lap. By contrast, the eMate 300 (which I’m using to write this post) remains cool to the touch and allows me to actually concentrate on my words without thinking about websites, email, instant messaging, or even fancy graphics. Text, baby, and nothing else. It’s a handier version of an old-fashioned typewriter. This is the same reason why I’ve been debating getting an AlphaSmart Neo or Dana for so long. The difference is that the eMate (besides being quite a sexy looking machine, in my humble opinion) is roughly 1/20 the price. While getting the initial connections set up wouldn’t be as easy as with an AlphaSmart, the screen is bigger, the ruggedness is legendary, the touchscreen works very well, the 20-hour battery life is nothing to complain about, and –well– there’s something very unique about the machine that that makes a guy feel special. I can see why Batgirl likes it.

Perhaps in the next few weeks, I’ll post about how my Newton experiments are going. I’m still learning the ropes and exploring the machines’ strengths and weaknesses, so I might toss my discoveries out onto the Interwebs for those folks meandering down the same path. I’m sure there’s at least one other person out there….

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