Sneak Peek: Apple eMate 300

The eMate 300 is an extremely rugged, mobile computer based on Newton technology. It features integrated applications (Newton Works) that are extensible; connectivity to Macs, Windows PCs, intranets and the Internet; the ability to enter data by keyboard or with a stylus on its touchscreen; a super-long battery charge (up to 28 hours of continuous use); and much more. It has no hard disk or disk drive. Files are stored in memory (upgradeable) and transferred by direct cable link, network or a built-in infrared port. 

Behind the design is the vision -- still Apple's best strength. From its conception, eMate 300 was built expressly for K-12 to fill the "missing link" in a technology-enabled education environment that Apple is calling "distributed learning." Specifically, it had to be affordable, portable and connectable. Its role is to provide a practical means for learning anytime, anywhere, anyone. 

The issue is access. At a per-unit cost of about $800 (or $600 in eight-packs), eMates can be supplied for a whole class. With its Classroom Setup software, multiple students can share the same eMate yet have password-protected workspace. 

Ease of use extends access. Open its top and the eMate turns on. Use Newton Works' word processor, complete with spellcheck and text/page formatting functions, then include a drawing by simply sketching it onscreen with the stylus. Newton Works, which also has a drawing program and graphing calculator, is object oriented. Add any third-party program -- like the included spreadsheet, calendar and address book, or optional e-mail package -- and it becomes available to all applications. Already in the works are a student writing program, math tools, a Web browser and science tools. 

Connectivity is the final piece to access. IR technology exchanges data between eMates, while an RS-422 serial port and a Newton InterConnect Port provide access to both Macintosh and Windows 3.1 or 95 computers. And Newton Internet Enabler, bundled, handles TCP/IP for accessing the 'net. A modem and Ethernet will be add-on products. 

A few other tidbits: the eMate 300 can take PCMCIA cards (Type I, II and III) and has slots for upgrading memory, OS and software. Its backlit LCD shows the full width of a printed page in 16 levels of gray scale. Also built-in are a speaker, headphone jack and sound-output port. 

With the eMate 300, Apple continues its legacy of pushing the envelope, translating vision into real products and offering them first to education. Apple Computer, Inc., Cupertino, CA, (800) 800-APPL,

This article originally appeared in the 12/01/1996 issue of THE Journal.