We seem to be in a constant state of list mania in the Newton world, and Mac|Life adds to it with a list of the top five best and worst Apple laptops. For once, a Newton product – the eMate 300 – makes it to a “best-of” list instead of the usual what-were-they-thinking roundup.
Better known as the PDA That Never Stood a Chance, the eMate was a stripped-down, retooled Newton built exclusively for students and teachers. With a near-30-hour battery; 480×320 resolution, backlit, touch-screen display; serial and IrDA ports; full-sized keyboard; and Newton OS 2.1, all housed in a tough, translucent-blue clamshell case with an $800 price tag, the eMate was a revelation that came at precisely the wrong time — about four months before Steve Jobs regained his position as Supreme Ruler.
Lists like this are conversation-starters, and I’ll take the bait, because I disagree with listing the iBook G3 clamshell as one of the worsts. The magazine pokes fun at the design of the iBook (“equal parts toilet seat, suitcase and clam”), which is purely subjective, while it ignores the clamshell’s functionary details. The same features Apple pioneered with the original iBook – the handle, the ruggedness – were never seen again after the IceBook replaced the clamshell model G3, which perhaps says something.
Some Apple laptops, like the PowerBook 5300 series (hilariously called the “HindenBook” for its ability to spontaneously combust) and the Mac Portable, seem to end up in the scrap heap in every list. Macs like the Twentieth Century Macintosh and the Titanium PowerBook go either way.
Still, it’s nice to see the eMate get some positive recognition for once.