[NTLK] Very ambitious idea for 2011 Newton mods
mlheureux at online.fr
Mon Nov 21 00:55:56 EST 2011
Look at the 2011 Kindle & imagine it were running Newton OS!
Reading through some of the talk about running Einstein on Android, etc.,
I've been thinking about whether it might be possible to modernize the
actual physical Newton hardware, to keep it usable in the modern day &
going forward as it has to compete with lighter & sleeker devices like the
Kindle. The goal would be to trim all of the excess bulk & weight & make a
device using a Newton logic board that is a light and sleek as possible
(like a Kindle or e-reader form factor, if possible) and 100% compatible
with the original Newton. I imagine it would be used mostly as an
electronic notebook and an ebook reader. The Newton is still really good
at these tasks & if it had the right form factor, it could be even better.
Here's what I have in mind:
1- Replace the LCD screen with an e-Ink screen. This would make the screen
much, much more readable & greatly improve the usability of the device. Do
e-Ink screens use similar electronic inputs to LCD's? Would this be
possible to do?
2- Replace the bulky & heavy battery pack/4AA's by a slim, light modern
battery. Take the batteries out of your Newton & see how light it is to
get an idea of how much these add to the bulk & weight of the Newton!
Ideally we could replace them with one that is cheap & readily available
on eBay (maybe from a digital camera, e-reader or something). I imagine
this should be possible if new charging circuitry could be installed; of
course, the Newton OS would likely not be able to handle it, so it would
have to be independent of the OS. If the battery & charging circuitry is
not handled by the OS, it would mean that the machine could power off
unexpectedly when the battery gets low. This could be mitigated by using
some sort of battery status indicator (LED's or something).
3- Install on-board storage and WiFi (& Bluetooth?) & eliminate the PC card
slots. The PC Card slots add a lot of un-necessary bulk to the case. If
we could integrate some sort of storage (maybe a MicroSD with 2 stores: one
read-only for ATA/WiFi/etc. drivers, one for user storage), and some small
wireless controller, we could mostly do away with the need for PC Cards.
Bluetooth would be ideal, since it will be compatible with pretty much all
computers in the foreseeable future (Windows 8...) without the need to
develop new software. Backup might still be an issue, but potentially
mitigated if we could integrate an SD/MicroSD slot & update the ATA driver
or come up with some other software solution to back up to it.
4- Eliminate serial & IR ports. These add bulk & space, and are largely
irrelevant in today's computing environment. Integrated WiFi should be
good enough for file transfers & if the drivers are permanently included in
the device, then bootstrapping will not be an issue. If a Bluetooth
controller can be integrated & Blunt can be somehow updated to support
keyboards, then we could use Bluetooth keyboards, which will be much more
convenient & available, going forward.
5- Develop an ePub->Newtonbook converter. Maybe this could be integrated
into NCX somehow. Ideally, the user would connect his Newton to his
desktop computer, drag an ePub to the app & it would spit out a Newton book
package directly onto the Newton. This app, of course, would also be of
benefit to Newton users as a whole.
6- Make a new slim form-factor case to fit it all in. Seeing as we seem to
have some people who know about 3D modelling/printing on the list, seems
like this might be feasible. Bonus points if it can be from a solid piece
of aluminum, MacBook Pro style :-).
Now that we have schematics for the Newton logic board, I wonder if it
could even be possible to make a new revision using compatible, but
physically smaller components, so that it would fit in a sleeker case.
Not sure how feasible any of this would actually be, but I'd be really
interested to hear what everyone else has to say about these ideas.
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