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June 08, 2004

Airport Express and the Apple PDA that never will be

Apple released Airport Express yesterday, a little device that lets you: 1) broadcast a wireless internet connection to up to 10 users (just like a regular Airport base station or other wireless access point), 2) stream your iTunes library to your stereo, and 3) extend the range of an existing wireless network (it acts as a bridge). All for $129. Very cool.

Of course, this would be an even better addition to the "digital hub" if Airport Express also had a data-out line to allow you to plug into a television, VCR or other video input so you could stream your photos and iMovies to your tv. With this capability, Airport Express could give the TiVo Home Media Option a real run for its money.

Apparently Steve Jobs also announced that Apple created a new PDA sometime recently, but it will never see the light of day. This I do not understand. I mean, even if it wasn't a market leader, if it's made by Apple, you can bet they'd sell a few million—at least enough to pay back some of the R&D that went into creating the thing. Was it just not insanely great, or ... what?

I bought an eMate in 1999 for about $300—this was the "laptop" version of Apple's Newton. Compared to what's available now, the thing was big and heavy, but it was definitely very cool and way ahead of its time. It could surf the web, send and receive email, accept input via stylus and handwriting recognition or keyboard, play mp3s, etc. And best of all, it was bulletproof. Like a PDA, it used flash ram for memory (no hard drive), so there were no moving parts to worry about if it got banged around. It was made of superhard and thick plastic and the screen—the only sort of sensitive part—was shock-mounted to withstand hard hits. Instant on/off, 20-hour battery life (or more) using the equivalent of four AA batteries, etc. In some ways a dream machine, and definitely the ultimate reporter's or student's note-taking/story-writing companion. But all we got was the first version before it was discontinued. And even w/out support from Apple, these things are still going strong. Imagine what the descendant of a machine like that could be today!

I guess we'll never know...

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Posted 05:39 AM | Comments (1) | mac geek

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