Newton Branches Out
Hardware Licensees Create New Solutions
By Cameron Crotty
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Apple's Personal Interactive Electronics (PIE) division may be on its way to a swelled head. While not abandoning its original vision of the Newton as a PDA panacea, the PIE group is working on its role as an OEM and technology developer. Given the two Newton-based units that have recently appeared, the efforts appear to be bearing fruit.
Roughly the size of a paperback book, Motorola's Marco is a PDA with the heart of a Newton and the soul of a pager. Like a book or a personal organizer, the black plastic device opens and closes on a vertical hinge; on the right is the familiar 320-by-240-pixel MessagePad screen. The left-hand side is blank, but houses a wireless, packet-data radio modem. Support for the radio is built into the Marco's Newton-based operating system; users send and receive mail via Ardis's RadioMail service or Personal Messaging Service. The Marco has 1MB of static RAM, an AppleTalk serial port, a PCMCIA Type II slot, and a Newton infrared beaming port. The Marco uses a rechargeable nickel-cadmium battery pack and runs an enhanced version of the Newton OS. Pricing for the Marco is not set but will range from $900 to $1300.
While the Marco is aimed at mobile executives, other companies are developing Newton platforms intended for more vertical markets. The SuperTech 2000, developed by Harris Corporation's Dracon Division and Digital Ocean, looks like what might happen if Fisher-Price designed a PDA. The unit looks roughly like a MessagePad 110, only twice as thick and encased in a hefty removable rubber protective cover that allows the unit to survive a 6-foot drop to concrete. The bulky body houses 1MB of static RAM, an AppleTalk serial port, a rechargeable nickel- metal-hydride battery pack, and a backlit display. The SuperTech 2000 (also sold by Digital Ocean as the Tarpon) contains Digital Ocean's spread-spectrum wireless LAN technology. Harris and Digital Ocean expect the unit to be used in warehouses, factories, retail stores, or on the road, where the device could connect to a remote server carried in a service technician's tool van. Pricing on the SuperTech 2000/Tarpon is not set but is expected to be approximately $3000. For more information about the latest Newton advances, see also "Newton Sprouts Again," At Work news, March 1995. Digital Ocean, 913/888-3380; Harris, 805/987-9511; Motorola, 800/894-7353.