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Newton, Take Two

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Since even before Apple introduced the MessagePad in August, we've been tantalized with pictures and descriptions of the Newtons of the future. They've come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from MessagePad-type pocket PDAs, to notebook-sized slates, all the way up to wall-sized units that might be the chalkboard of the 21st century.

Word on the street has Apple preparing to release the second member of the Newton family, an enhanced and streamlined version of the MessagePad, code-named "Lindy." The new model will feature 1 MB of RAM compared to the MessagePad's 640K, which just about triples the amount of space available for user information. (Several hundred kilobytes are set aside for the system.) Among the improvements in the firmware are improved handwriting recognition and deferred recognition of text written in "digital ink."

Outside, the next Newton is narrower and a little taller, and sports a flip-up screen cover that folds behind the unit when you use it. The pen will be round, not flat.

The best word of all? Newton "pioneers" will be able to upgrade their existing MessagePads with the new ROM for a sum reported to be on the order of $100. Upgraded MessagePads will benefit from the handwriting recognition and other operational improvements, but will still have 640K of RAM.

The latest rumors say that Apple moved the new Newton's introduction from late March to early March, in order to ensure Newton hoopla doesn't get lost in PowerPC frenzy. If you're waiting for the slate-sized Newton, though, keep waiting. That's not expected to arrive until late this year at the earliest.

-- Information from:
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