PDA form factor

Bill Kearney wkearney99@hotmail.com
Thu, 3 Jan 2002 19:15:12 -0500


> Sharp had a biggie Newton (8 1/2 x 11) in the wings in early-mid '94 that
got pulled, IIRC
> primarily because of battery life concerns.

The earliest prototype Newtons were quite large (cadillac).  The 100 was a
Sharp device.  The 120/130 series were from Inventec.  Don't recall who
manufactured the 2k series.

The never shipped, larger "senior" kicked ass.  Battery life was indeed an
issue.  It was also rather heavy compared to a "junior" Newton.  But using
it was very cool.

It was certainly going to fail.  The price point, battery life, weight and
HWR were factors.  A bigger factor, perhaps, was the incredibly incompetent
sales effort.

> One of the things I really, really liked about the original Newton was the
rubberized skin of the
> cases.  For a handheld device, that was a real nice-to-have.  I've seen
this appear and quickly
> disappear in other devices as well.

It was a form of paint.  Getting it to stick to plastic was apparently a
real pain in the ass.  Thus the later units used textured plastic.  It
certainly added to the cost but its peeling is what killed it.

I'm rather surprise the clamshell form factor hasn't caught on.  Like the
Sharp Zaurus (Wizard) series.  I find the tiny Sony Picturebook a great form
factor but the battery life is abysmal.

I'm curious to see how the latest Sharp device comes to grips with these
issues.  That thumb-keyboard might be quite handy.  Does it get more than 5
days casual operation before battery change/charge?

I agree with a comment here about the Palm being a largely read-only device.
I only very rarely use it for input.  The combination of screwy HWR and poor
UI layout are to blame.  The latest Handspring with the thumb keyboard might
be worth trying.

-Bill Kearney