Thoughts about iWalk

Eirikur Hallgrimsson
Thu, 3 Jan 2002 16:51:36 -0500

Total agreement about the form-factor thing, but I don't trust those leaked 
images.   Steve Jobs seems to have plugged many of the leaks (with I don't 
know what draconian measures).  If they do come out with a sexy new PDA,
I sure hope there is an open protocol for talking to it.

I was a "Newton Pioneer" which means that I paid good money for the "beta"
development environment, and a few rah-rah mailings.  I had seen the slate 
protos under non-disclosure when I was working with Apple for DEC.  I was 
constantly amazed at how the Newton managed get BIGGER with each new model, 
when anyone with a brain knew that it was too big to start with. The first 
one was only "too big;" the later models are silly.   Heavy, too.    I did 
love my transparent (developer perk) MP120.   I still have it.   I used it 
for a long time, but it really wasn't ready, even at that point.   Even 
disabling the recognition feature, the thing was too slow.  The final one, 
the 2100 with the rotateable portrait/landscape display, was faster, but the 
contrast was still poor despite the backlight.  A real cat-squasher, that one.
(Cat-squasher--a technical term from electronic music refering to a device 
which if dropped on a cat (because you tripped on the cat), results in a 
cat-state that does not require a rush to the vet.)

And, you know, looking back on it, the slate was too small.   It looked big 
at the time, compared to the pocket protos, but it was only about the size of 
a hardcover book, with a frame around the display.  The screen was much 
smaller than the usable area of a US letter-sized clipboard or notebook.   I 
think they may have been right to can that one. 

Industrial design from the Apple Design group was pretty impressive.  I have 
the coffee table book that shows most of their output.   I still want a 
computer like the "Luxo" mockup, which was a desktop that put a laptop screen 
on the end of a counterweighted pantograph "Luxo" lamp arm, with the system 
housed in the lamp base.  Wireless keyboard.   Low desktop footprint.

Have any FoRKers actually used the CrossPad?  It's a clipboard sized 
digitizer with no display.  You use a pen with real ink on a pad of paper,
and you can later download the page images.   It was a really interesting, 
and seemingly promising idea.   I was never able to actually get a demo of 
downloading, so I never saw the quality of the results.   And there was, of 
course, only a Windoze program (sans protocol documentation).  I suspect that 
the CrossPad is long gone now.   

Oh, yeah, I have owned GRIDpads, too.  I wish I had kept a 2050.
I was anticipating that pen input would become mainstream.  It always seemed 
very sexy to me, but I admit that I never plug in any of my tablets anymore.