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Tapwave Zodiac = Newton Message Pad?

Just the other day, my good friend Andy, a long-time Apple Newton user who now uses a Clié NR70V, dropped a note about the new Tapwave Zodiac. He said it reminds him a bit of his old Newton Message Pad 2100 (NMP2K), because the device is designed to be used primarily in landscape (horizontal) mode, has a 320 x 480 screen and dual slots.

I'd have to agree, especially after having a chance to handle one back in May. The Zodiac is of course much, much smaller than the Newton, has a color screen, and other features (like Bluetooth) that the Newton didn't have. The Zodiac is also much more rounded than the Newton and has dual controls for gamers, but that's more a styling issue.

One BIG credit to the Newton was that it ran completely on Flash RAM, which meant you didn't have to worry about battery failures. Nothing was ever lost when power cut out, which is one of the negatives of Palm OS devices I'd love to see remedied. Sony's UX50 has an auto-backup system, which is a start, but full Flash RAM would be even better.

I think that while the Zodiac is a nice gaming machine, it would make an excellent everyday device for even a non-gamer like me. It's pretty reasonably priced for its specs ($300-400), especially compared to Sony devices. I think the Zodiac would be great for reading e-books, viewing images and listening to tunes, and even for tracking my life. If it came with a widescreen web browser and WiFi (maybe version 1,1?) I'd be even happier.

For more info on the Zodiac, check out articles at Palm Infocenter, GoodThatWay, Brighthand, CNET and CNN Money.

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