Everything has gone very quiet on the Newton front over the past few months, but the machine is far from dead, and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co plans to put the whole idea back in the spotlight in the first half of next year when its Panasonic Communications & Systems Co plans to launch the first […]
Everything has gone very quiet on the Newton front over the past few months, but the machine is far from dead, and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co plans to put the whole idea back in the spotlight in the first half of next year when its Panasonic Communications & Systems Co plans to launch the first in a family of Personal Digital Assistants using the Newton and Magic Cap operating environments. According to PC Week, the thing will either a slate-style unit or in a form factor similar to Apple Computer Inc’s Newton MessagePad. The device running Magic Cap is expected later in the year. Panasonic’s 9 by 7 Newton slate would reportedly be based on that prototype developed by Apple and code-named Bic, which surfaced as a project this time last year, but was dropped during cutbacks in the Personal Interactive Electronics Division earlier this year. It is said to feature a 4 by 6 backlit screen with 640 by 480 pixel resolution, about twice the size of the screen on Apple’s current MessagePad 110, and will replace the permanent buttons at the base of the MessagePad 110 with software-controlled buttons; it is also said to be switchable between landscape and portrait mode.A built-in 9.6Kbps data and facsimile modem, socketed ROM, 2MMb main memory, built-in speaker and microphone, and a PCMCIA slot capable of taking either one Type 3 or two Type 2 cards are expected, with infra-red, serial and AC ports, and mounting slots for accessories such as an external keyboard, portable printer or document scanner. All that won’t come cheap, and talk is that it will be in the $1,000 to $1,500 price bracket. Matsushita confirmed that Panasonic is working on both Newton and Magic Cap-based devices, but gave no details. Meantime Motorola Inc is expected to launch its own Newton device in November, and Apple has been showing off a MessagePad 120, which is expected to appear early next year. The 120 uses a 20MHz ARM 610 processor, comes in the same casing as the 110, but has a better screen, 2Mb of internal static RAM, a removable screen cover and a socketed rather than a soldered ROM to make upgrading the operating software easier.