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Apple Launches New Generation of User-Centric Information Appliances with the MessagePad 2000


Apple Computer, Inc. today unveiled the MessagePad 2000, the first in a new generation of hand-held, mobile Internet computers that leverages Apple's pioneering Newton technology. The system is one of the first products from Apple's newly formed Information Appliance Division, whose mission is to make information more accessible to a wider audience of users.

The MessagePad 2000 is a complete mobile computer for the business professional, with core applications ranging from e-mail and web access to personal productivity and desktop connectivity--all built in, ready to run, and tightly integrated. Beyond Internet access, the MessagePad 2000 includes a built-in spreadsheet (available in most configurations) and word processor; a personal information manager with calendar, phone list, and reminders; connection software and hardware for linking to both Windows and Macintosh desktops; and even built-in recording capability to take voice notes or record a meeting--up to an hour on one 4 MB PC memory card.

The computer incorporates the award-winning Newton Operating System which supports more applications than any other information appliance on the market. A full-size optional keyboard is available (in the U.S. only) for users whose life on the road requires it.

The MessagePad 2000's built-in applications are tightly integrated to allow the user to multi-task. For example, after a simple cut-and-paste you can put the contents of a web page into a business letter with one tap, then send it via email to a colleague right from within the word processor on the MessagePad 2000. A pre-created, detailed spreadsheet can be uploaded from the MessagePad to a desktop machine, where it can be viewed and manipulated in Excel (5.0 or better) without further editing. Users can synchronize their calendar on the MessagePad 2000 with most desktop personal information managers, including Lotus Organizer, Microsoft's Schedule+, and Claris Organizer.

The MessagePad 2000, designed for mobile computing, is a serious Internet/intranet device. It includes not only a built-in e-mail program and web browser, but a screen that can display both text and GIF-formatted graphics from HTML pages, as well as a full page fax.

"The MessagePad 2000 is vivid proof of Apple's continuing commitment to innovation," said Gilbert Amelio, Apple president and CEO. "No company has worked harder or brought more resources to the mobile computer market. While the industry scrambles to build information appliances, we are seeing Apple's persistence pay off."

Unprecedented performance from the StrongARM processor at the heart of the MessagePad 2000 is a 160 MHz StrongARM processor making it one of the fastest hand-held computers on the market. Apple is among the first to adopt the new processor, which was jointly developed by Digital Equipment Corporation and Advanced RISC Machines. The chip is one of the most power-efficient processors on the market.

"The StrongARM processor makes a real difference," said Sandy Benett, vice president, Newton Systems Group. "Applications of all kinds run noticeably faster and more efficiently than with a conventional device. Handwriting is translated almost instantaneously into digitized text, and you can switch between applications and share data quickly and seamlessly."

Major Third-Party and Licensee Support

Over 250 developers and solutions providers and 300 systems integrators and value added resellers worldwide support the award-winning Newton platform. Of these, many have announced their support for the MessagePad 2000 and have already developed third-party applications. In addition, several major hardware developers, including Digital Ocean, Harris, and Schlumberger, are building their own information appliances based on the Newton operating system. A variety of vertical applications have already been developed by third parties which meet specific user needs, including healthcare patient record management, field service route delivery, and sales force automation. Apple has also announced the Apple eMate 300, an information appliance created for the education market.

Built for the Road

"The MessagePad 2000 is built from the ground up for a life on the road--a compact device weighing less than 1.5 pounds that contains all the essential ingredients for on-the-go computing," said Benett. "It is so power-thrifty that one set of batteries can provide three to six weeks of typical usage. Yet it is powerful enough to accomplish serious work, whether from your customer's site or a mountain cabin." The computer has two Type II PC Card slots that support many of the wired and wireless communications solutions already shipping for the Newton Operating System, as well as expansion for applications and memory cards. The MessagePad 2000 measures 1.1 x 4.7 x 8.3 inches and weighs just 1.4 pounds. Four AA alkaline batteries or a nickel-metal-hydride (NiMh) battery pack will power the device for three to six weeks on just a one-hour charge, enough to keep going on a plane trip around the world.

An instant on feature brings the computer immediately to life without bootup. And when visiting home or office, the MessagePad 2000 can be connected and synchronized with a Windows or Mac OS desktop computer. The computer comes pre-configured with a browser and e-mail software (modem and Internet service not included). Pre-installed business applications include a word processor, spreadsheet (available in most configurations) and Newton dates, names, and notes applications. The MessagePad 2000 can exchange data with the major Windows and Macintosh personal information management applications, including Microsoft Schedule+, Lotus Organizer, and Claris Organizer, using Apple's Newton Connection Utilities (included).

The Newton 2.1 operating system will support most applications that currently run under Newton 2.0, and has been optimized for the additional features in the new MessagePad 2000, including voice notes, gray scale screen technology, and a new auto docking feature.

The MessagePad 2000 comes standard with 5MB RAM and 8MB of ROM, Cirrus Voyager chip set, low-power, backlit screen with 16-level gray scale, microphone, and speaker. Options include a lightweight, touch-type keyboard (available as standard in some configurations), NiMh rechargeable battery pack, AC adapter, and additional flash memory cards.

Retail prices for the MessagePad 2000 are expected to begin at less than U.S. $1000, depending on configuration and reseller. The product is expected to be available in the U.S. in the first quarter of calendar 1997.


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