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Apple Newton vs Samsung Q1 UMPC 226

An anonymous reader writes "CNET has run a comparison between the 1997 Apple Newton and a modern Windows ultra mobile PC, the Samsung Q1. Remarkably, the Newton comes off as the winner. From the article: 'An operating system designed for a desktop computer will rarely shoehorn well into a portable device, yet that is exactly what Samsung has tried to do with the Q1. Very little consideration has been given to the differing priorities of desktop and small-form computer users. Windows is a one-size-fits-all solution, whereas the Newton OS is very specifically built for the efficient use of a small screen and stylus.'"
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Apple Newton vs Samsung Q1 UMPC

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  • "Winner?" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Grey ( 463613 ) * on Friday July 28, 2006 @09:42AM (#15798182)
    The summary makes it seem like the Newton technologically outperforms the Q1. Not so. "Winner," in this context, means "a better value." From TFA:
    ... the Newton has 12 times the battery life of the Q1, so ended up winning the fight with sheer stamina. Add to this the Q1's inflated price and it's a no-brainer ...
    If you actually read the article, the Q1 includes much better technology and has a lot of features and capabilities that appeal to the majority of computer users -- Windows users. Since the Q1 would be someone's second (or third, or fourth) computer, it has much more appeal. The MessagePad's handwriting recognition and overall interface may be cleaner, but that's not as impressive to most people as running Microsoft Office on a tiny screen.
  • UMPC = Stupid Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the linux geek ( 799780 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @09:43AM (#15798195)
    I have no idea what M$ was thinking with these "ultra-mobile PCs." They manage to combine the speed of a PDA with the lean-ness of a full Windows with the spaciousness of a small screen, and the result is pathetic. They seem to be trying to doom themselves to a flop far bigger then that of the Newton.
  • I love my Newton (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Boccaccio ( 762644 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @09:45AM (#15798210)
    I love my Newton 2100. I so wish Apple would release a new version. I'd buy it in a second.
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Friday July 28, 2006 @09:47AM (#15798223)

    Of course the Newton won -- considering that it runs software custom-designed for mobile PIM use, while the Q1 is more-or-less running normal desktop Windows (tablet edition, whoop-de-do), was there ever any doubt?

  • Newton Advantages (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Feneric ( 765069 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @09:48AM (#15798227) Homepage

    I wrote a bit about this before []. The Newton does a lot of things well as it was designed from the ground up to be a hand-held device. As a consequence it's still seeing use, still seeing third-party development, and still more usable than some devices currently getting produced.

    It's not ideal, either; it could definitely use a diet to shed some weight, and these days features like wireless, bluetooth, etc. shouldn't have to be added via cards. An evolutionary development of the Newton platform could easily beat almost any other device on the market today, though.

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @09:55AM (#15798291) Journal
    Funny thing is, that Apple could still pick this up again and use it inconjunction with ipod and the desktop. This is the one place that I believe that jobs is missing.
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @09:56AM (#15798294) Homepage
    This smells fishy to me. If you were to run a Ferrari against a Model T, you'd expect the Ferrari to kick butt -- in fact, you'd receive some raised eyebrows for even testing the two together. I suspect there was some hanky-panky here from the start.

    not at all. In this comparison the Model T has a traditional steering wheel and gas/brake pedals. The Ferrari has a laptop trackpad for steering and a strange USB device for breaking and gas that seems to get disconnected at random times and at regular times the steering will either slam the wheels to the right hard for no reason or fail to accept input.

    THAT is the difference between a Newton and XP Tablet. The newton was designed from the beginning to be a non keyboard/mouse device. XP is designed ot have a keyboard and mouse and then MSFT slapped some crud into it to work with the other hardware.

    It does not work (I have 2 Xp tablets, I hate the XP tablet tools, they simply suck.) and is unreliable at best.

    That seems to be a very fair comparison to me with no fishyness.
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:02AM (#15798332) Homepage Journal
    This smells fishy to me. If you were to run a Ferrari against a Model T, you'd expect the Ferrari to kick butt

    Unless the test included driving over a dirt road with ruts eight inches deep. The ability to go 200MPH is meaningless if your tires don't reach the ground.

    Mobile coputing platform providers end up competing on features, because that's the only way to lock users into an upgrade cycle. And everybody likes a shiny new feature. But the truth is mobile computing users don't really need more features. What they need is basic capabilities, any time, any place.

    The Newton got a lot of things right, and a few critical things wrong. One of the things it got right was battery. That satisifies the any time requirement. One of the things it got wrong was form factor. That fails the anywhere requirement.

    It seems to me that creating a more powerful computer in the same form factor but with short battery life is a mistake.

    In any case, the Newton is hardly a model T. It's more like a Stanley Steamer: an extraordinary and worthy piece of engineering that failed becuase it didn't meet a key user criterion. For the Stanley, it was the ability to hop in and go without having to literally build up a head of steam. For the Newton, it was the ability to carry it with you without constantly being aware you were lugging a computer around.
  • I have gone through a number of palm, handspring, and Win Moble devices and my eMate despite it's size is still probably the best one out there. For a device thats been dead for ages I can go wireless, use it as a email device, type a report without distractions, pull up index cards, and just about everything else a moble platform should do without being flashy and running faster than any of the devices I have used since. Quite frankly the MIT laptop SHOULD have been a redesigned eMate. 99% of what they are trying to do with it is exactly what the eMate did except was expensive at the time.
  • by LS ( 57954 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:06AM (#15798355) Homepage
    Should they be comparing the Newton with a minaturized desktop PC, or should they be comparing it with a Palm Pilot or Windows Mobile? It seems like the comparison is really between *cough* uhh apples and oranges. The Q1 device is clearly targeted at a market that wants power and functionality in a handheld, while Windows Mobile devices are aimed at efficient usability (or at least that's the goal). Anyway, this comparison is a non sequitur of sorts...

  • Re:Not compared (Score:3, Insightful)

    by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:06AM (#15798357) Homepage Journal
    How can the first post be redundant?

    Anyway, I do not view the Newtown as the winner, the way that TFA is written it is more that the Q1 is the loser.

  • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:07AM (#15798362) Homepage Journal
    "Although the Q1 won more points, the Newton was declared the overall winner of the battle and was crowned by in an emotional ceremony."

    In other words, the Q1 beat the Newton 5 to 3. Although I personally think the Q1 should have won the Price point also as you can not buy a new Newton like the one they tested. So it just comes down to the editor being a Mac fan or Windows hater.

  • Re:"Winner?" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:09AM (#15798374) Homepage Journal
    Newton enjoys over 30 hours of continuous battery life, compared to the Q1's 2.5 hours.

    Actually this is a really important. You don't want to be finding yourself a power socket to charge your PDA every two and half hours. Gray scale screens are usually very high quality in commparison to colour screens, with the omission of colour.

    The entire revue is probably biased, but the general gist is that if you think of how your device will be used you will be better off. Trying to fudge a solution may provide a working solution, but not necessarily one which is worth using. The fact that the Newton is still being using by people today is a testiment to how well it was thought out - what was against it were: size, price and the fact it was too early to market for most.
  • by Ant P. ( 974313 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:11AM (#15798388) Homepage
    (and I don't blame them, it's crap)

    Here's an analogy: Q1 = PSP, Newton = 1989 Game Boy.
  • by Weasel5053 ( 910174 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:13AM (#15798398)
    Of course the whole point of the Samsung Q1 is that it runs regular Windows XP and therefore Windows XP compatible applications. Obviously an OS specifically developed for a mobile format would be superior in some areas on a mobile device.
  • Re:"Winner?" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by duffel ( 779835 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:23AM (#15798475)
    not as impressive to most people as running Microsoft Office on a tiny screen.

    It's a tiny screen and fully half the screen is toolbars.

    This article is really about the modern portables industry going off-mission, and sacrificing core features of portables in favour of gimmicks. The Samsung machine tries to be a swiss army knife of portable computing, and it does everything it claims, but it lacks the most important aspects of such a mini toolkit: portability. 2.5 hours isn't portable, that won't even last you a flight of any distance, and it actually places an upper limit on the length of movies you can watch with it's much praised video playing capabilities (chances are it's more like 2 hours with something as processor intensive anyway). The prime advantage of this is that you can amend, for example, powerpoint presentations last minute. But then you could already do it much better and faster on an ordinary laptop.

    Remember those swiss army knifes? On the one hand you get the ones with 6 or 7 fold out tools... A mini toolkit in your pocket, very useful. Then you get the one with 150 tools that's so bulky you wouldn't want to carry it around in your pocket, and so it sits unused in your toolbox where you have better tools anyway.
  • by blamanj ( 253811 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:25AM (#15798494)
    For the Newton, it was the ability to carry it with you without constantly being aware you were lugging a computer around.

    That and bad press as a result of a too-early release and a rocky start.

    However, that makes the article's comparison that much more poignant, because it seems like the technology to build the Newton today would allow it to be about 1/2 the original weight and maybe 75% it's original size. Give it a color screen and WiFi and you'd have a killer machine.
  • Odd evaluations (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rocketship Underpant ( 804162 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:49AM (#15798680)
    The Cnet article gushes over the Q1 a lot actually -- for a lot of bizarre reasons. Under part 1, design:

    "The Samsung logo at the bottom of the unit, the SRS surround-sound logo ... hint at the device's massive potential."

    So the Q1 wins for having lots of prominent logos? Logos = massive potential? I'm sure glad this guy doesn't design iPods.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:52AM (#15798701) Journal
    How could the Newton be made better and still be a Newton?

    It could be made thinner, and the borders around the screen could be made smaller. The handwriting recognition could probably be improved slightly.

    Using the Newton UI is a kind of Zen. Everything it does is so obvious you wonder how anyone could possibly conceive of any other way of doing things. You write some text on the screen, and the text is added there. You draw a square, and you get a square. The only way I can see some someone being surprised at a Newton beating a Windows machine is if they had never used a Newton.

  • Re:"Winner?" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SCPRedMage ( 838040 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:58AM (#15798746)
    It is the fact that it has a well protected OS, is not as common as Windows, and has limited connectivity.
    Psst... that second one IS "security through obscurity"...
  • by OfNoAccount ( 906368 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:00AM (#15798762)
    The whole point of the UMPC is that it's a real x86 PC that fits in your, admittedly rather large, pocket.

    The Newton is a PDA. Can you run Photoshop on it? No. Watch video? Not really. Store all your pr0n^C^C holiday snaps? No. If you want to do any of those things (like I do) then the Newton scores -1, the UMPC is +5

    At the moment they're good at different tasks. If you want a PDA, buy a PDA. If you're after a PC that fits on your pocket, buy a UMPC (or a Vaio UX, or OQO, or...)

    I used my Vaio C1F for many years, I also used a variety of Psion/PocketPC/Palm devices. The C1F I upgraded and want a replacement for, the PDAs were gathering dust pretty much as soon as they arrived home - for me a simple pocket diary works better than a PDA, as it doesn't require batteries, doesn't erase all your data, is smaller, and way cheaper. At the end of the day though, everyone's different.
  • by bsandersen ( 835481 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:05AM (#15798800) Homepage
    As a former Newton developer, I am not surprised by the comparisons made today. I've carried Palms, Psions, Blackberrys and everything in-between all the while wishing for some of the very nice features my various flavors of Newton MessagePad had.

    The point made that a desktop OS cannot be easily shoehorned into a smaller place cannot be overstated. Software designs, all software designs, have a "design center" that is the embodiment of the environment the original developers envisioned when they made their design decisions. Go too far from that vision and you find some of the tradeoffs those designers made are no longer best, and now possibly may be very bad indeed.

    The Newton's programming environment, based on SELF, was augmented with lots of supporting functionality that made creating high-quality applications for the device pretty easy. But, the MessagePads themselves (and remember: this was about 13 year ago now) had insufficient processor power for the really good stuff. Then again, think back about the kinds of junk that infested Palm Pilots and other hand-helds back then! If the MessagePad had been allowed to grow as a platform as all other surviving brands had done, it would have been a powerhouse.

    Finally, as a developer, I must point out that one of the problems that all devices like this face is that developers hate investing time learning a new platform. The Newton faced an extra challenge in that you had to learn a whole new programming language and programming model, too. For those of us who gave it a chance, we found the learning curve to be reasonable and the results satisfying. For many programmers, though, inertia and sheer laziness precludes anything that ventures out of their comfort zone.

    This last problem, the lazy programmer problem, has cast shadows on much more than just Newton MessagePad sales.

  • by Spokehedz ( 599285 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:13AM (#15798869)
    When all you have is a hammer, all of your problems start to look like nails.

    Microsoft has poured a lot... a LOT... Of money into it's OS. They want to re-use as much as possible on it, because they want to:

    1. Keep costs down.
    2. Keep the interface as similar as possible, to minimize learning curve
    3. Introduce as few new bugs as possible, and to keep bug hunting down to a minimum when they do crop up.

    So Microsoft's hammer is its OS. And it is a very big hammer. Its not even suited to hammer out the nails that it was designed for anymore. So now to justify the existance of it, they have to invent new ways to use it. They also have to force existing users to buy the hammer over and over again, which just makes it even more of a problem.
  • Re:"Winner?" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rthille ( 8526 ) <web-slashdot AT rangat DOT org> on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:38AM (#15799122) Homepage Journal
    Well, you can think about it this way. "I prefer a screen that stays greyscale for 30 hours, vs a screen which is color for the first 2.5 hours, then just black after that."
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:22PM (#15799560) Homepage Journal
    Most of your ideas are sound. Lighter: definitely. SD card: certainly. But there is no way that any mobile device priced near $1000 is every going to be a runaway hit.

    Anybody seriously considering spending $1000 for a mobile device too big to put in your pocket has to consider a laptop as an alternative. Heck, event the current generation PDAs are competing with laptops. And losing.

    That's the problem with adding too many features to a mobile platform. It creates confusion, and undermines the appeal of the platform.

    Consider the iPod. There are media jukebox devices out there that do a lot more. There are MP3 players that are smaller and cheaper (if you don't count the ridiculous gumstick version of the iPod). But it's the right size to support certain features, supports them well, and cheap enough that while a bit pricey from the per feature standpoint, it's well within the scope of an impulse buy. They know what they're getting is an elegant little device that's a pleasure to use.

    It's called having a "market position". Consumers considering a product need to know why they want it. For the Newton, the natural postion would be: the most convenient platform to manage lots information on. Why? Because it's big enough to do real work on, which a PDA is not, yet you never have to worry about batteries, which is not the case with a laptop. The problem is that at $1000, it would never be seen as a practical tool. It would always be an exotic gadget; the only people to buy it would be the same group of people who bought it before: the gadget hounds.

    So, I'd say if you could produce the MP2100 at, say $200 (I know that real world economics doesn't work that way), or a next generation device with all the bells and whistles costing $1000, possibly with less battery life, it seems to me that $200 MP2100 would have a better shot. As a thought experiment.

    Naturally, nobody would build the MP2100 today. At the very least nobody would put a pair of PCMCIA cards on a mobile device. Necessarily we'd be talking about a more modernized device. Probably you'd want a large amount of flash, SD, and most importantly reduced weight. But in no case should any feature undermine the core appeal of the device, which is battery life. The device needs to run forever at a price that anybody who sees the benefit will not hesitate to pay.

    The same goes for the tablet PC form factor. The form factor is self evidently logical. But why may comparable prices to a laptop for the absence of a keyboard? What kind of pitch is that? Yes, I know there are reasons, but they're too complicated to explain in a compelling way to a consumer. To the average user, a tablet is just a latop with a detachable kehyboard. Personally, I'd keep a keyboard port, but lose the keyboard altogether, shoorting for a price that represents a kind of psychological benchmark. In other words, to jumpstart demand for the tablet form factor, you need and offering at $500. After that, you can offer $1000 tablets, or $2000 tablets, but only after people "get it".
  • by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @01:43PM (#15800307) Journal
    and apple laptops have for a long time reminded me of a gigantic PDA...
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:20PM (#15801635) Journal
    Color screens that eat batteries for lunch
    Portable video to small to watch
    Ability to run desktop apps that are too complex and are unusably slow

    Hmmm...oh, and wireless connectivity, because every year batteries get better and everyone want's to stay in that 4 hour "sweet spot"

    *shakes head*
  • Nah. Why show a menu bar all the time? Do what the Psion series do and have a silkscreen button next to the screen to pop up the main menubar. All the benefit, for no screen space at all!

    Similarly, there's no real need for a taskbar/dock when you're mainly using standard applications; silkscreen buttons are great for that too.

    If you've not got much screen space, then you have to make every pixel count. Some things need a certain amount to be useful; e.g. scrollbars. But prune what's not needed, and it doesn't feel quite so cramped after all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 28, 2006 @06:25PM (#15802610)
    Jobs was the one who specifically killed the Newton project.
  • by Doppler00 ( 534739 ) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @01:07AM (#15804151) Homepage Journal
    3. Make it slightly smaller and lighter. May require shift to AAA instead of AA. I'd settle for any size larger than any current Palm OS PDA but smaller than the 2100.

    Lithium polymer/ion would be a better choice. AAA batteries have terrible energy density. You'd also make the device smaller.

    6. Maybe a higher resolution grayscale screen.
    There is abosultely no need for grayscale anymore. Transreflective color screens work great.

    "I'd buy the result for pretty much any amount of money up to $1000, seriously. "
    They could sell something like this for less than $200 easily. The hardware isn't that big of a deal. It's the software that made the Newton famous.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright