Using a Newton eMate 300 as a journaling device

Since my eMate 300 arrived at the end of last summer, I’ve struggled with ideas on how to use it. I bought mine mainly as a testing machine; my MessagePad 110 could only run Newton OS 1.x applications, and I wanted to experiment with more recent Newton apps. Also, eMates don’t have the portability and flexibility of their MP2x00 cousins.

So, what to do? It’s only recently, as I think back to the eMate’s original use (education, writing, word processing), that I’ve thought of a practical use for the little green machine: a journal writer.

I’ve been a writer as long as I can remember. As a kid, I used a typewriter to hammer out short stories. When I discovered the computer, it opened up a whole new world for me. I grew up to be editor of my high school and college newspaper, earned my degree in journalism, and went on to be a professional public relations writer. I live and breathe the written word.

A few years ago, I picked up journaling after a long hiatus. A plain notepad and pen have been the victims of random thoughts since I graduated college in 2003. After using a keyboard for so long, though, I notice my hand fatigues after only a few paragraphs. It’s no laughing matter.

I thought about using one of my Mac SEs as a journaling machine, just as an excuse to turn on of the little guys, but the SEs lack the true portability I was looking for. Laptops are fine – I have two iBooks – but finding excuses to use my classic Apple hardware was the goal. The eMate was just what I was looking for in a writing machine.

At home, the eMate works fine. But the rechargable battery is dead, and it’s not like a standard MessagePad with replaceable batteries. The eMate’s battery is wired in. So my next project is to find a usable eMate battery and replace my dead one.

When that happens, the eMate’s portability will be good enough to carry with me on vacations, trips to the coffeeshop, and even local performances or exhibits, where I can type down my thoughts. The smaller eMate keyboard will take some getting used to, but I’ve used it a few times already, and it’s not that big of a change.

In the meantime, I’m going to use Newton Works (with, perhaps, a few add-ons) to keep an electronic journal. I may search for other word processor apps, just to test the options, and implement a folder structure by year for organization. Now that I have Newton-to-OS X syncing down pat, I can even export my entries as text files – just in case any of them work as a blog post.

It’s hard to justify owning an eMate just for testing and projects alone. Over time, I can think about other uses for it other than journaling – like recipe-keeping (that old clichĂ©) or even Twittering. Who knows?

All this will give me an excuse to poke around the Newton 2.0 interface a bit more, try out some apps, and goof around with my newest Newton. Stay tuned – the next Newton Poetry post could be typed out on an eMate keyboard.


  1. If your battery is dead, it might be worth looking for an eMate on eBay with the battery mod (kind of like the “battery sled” that exists for the MessagePads). I have a unit with the mod, and spent $40 on 8 rechargeable 2500′ AAs with a wall-charger. I keep one set of 4 batts in the charger and one set in the eMate, and swap as they run-out.

    eMates with the hinge fix and battery-mod seem to only be ~$20 more than those with the hinge fix and old battery.

  2. Thanks Steve. Rechargeables would be perfect. I might tear open the eMate and try a little battery-fu myself.

  3. Hi Dave

    Why don’t you try putting in a battery tray rather than a replacement battery pack? Then you can either physically replace the batteries or wire it up to be charged from within the eMate.

    Check this out:



  4. errr… next time I should read the previous comments before adding my own…


  5. No worries, Tony – and thanks for the link. That looks like my kind of project.

  6. Over the previous week I’ve been using my eMate heavily too. I wrote a lot of HTML pages for my soon-to-appear website.

  7. I’ve been using my emate for journling since 2000 and never once lost an entry. As a matter of fact, I was looking at it last night to see how far back the entries went. Amazing little piece of technology it is and it is so much more ‘intimate’ to sit down with than a macbook or SE.

    I intend to read your post on syncing with OS X to see if there is an easier way to print than hooking it up to an old apple stylewriter though.

    Thanks for your ‘journal’ entry, it’s nice to know there are other dead technology users out there.

  8. By the way, this battery works in an emate. Been using them for the last 6 years>|nic0720|3|,Ny~True,Ntpc~Disabled,Ns~product+Type|101|1|

  9. Thank you, Steve, for sharing. I like what you said about the eMate being more “intimate.” It will be nice to have a machine that is simple in use and function to do just what I need it to do.

  10. […] It’s a brilliant (and, in a recession, cost-effective) solution to a problem a lot of us face every day. Why be productive when there’s another blog post to read? I’m working on my own, similar setup with my eMate 300. […]

  11. […] eMate 300 is a great machine. Small, portable, rugged – a sort of proto-netbook that lets you type on the go. And the battery life is great if you have a working, rechargeable battery with plenty of […]

  12. […] eMate makes a great writing machine. Using something simple like NewtonWorks, or even the Notes app, lets you type up a storm and then […]

  13. nSync (NewtSync) has a MacJournal plugin for syncing ‘journal’ notes on the eMate with that OSX app. Only just got my eMate and I’m still awaiting the Keyspan adapter before the fun can really begin – so I don’t know if the nSync plugin still works with the latest MacJournal.

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