The Apple Newton was introduced three years ago amid much fanfare and hype, only to become the butt of many a Doonesbury cartoon. Many continued to hold high hopes for the Newton. One industry analyst likened it to an infant. She said that some technologies were like a year-old dog: they did some pretty neat stuff, but they were about as smart as they were going to get. Others were like a year-old baby: they could not do much now, but wait a while and they would amaze you. The technology contained in the little hand-held machine has made several large steps since its first incarnation. There are still a few concerns that prevent it from taking the personal digital assistant (PDA) market by storm. There is a loyal following for the machine in several niche markets. Doctors and on-site inspectors have found the machine invaluable, but for most users it is still too big, too heavy and too expensive to be a practical PDA. MacWeek magazine has announced that Apple will add two machines to the Newton line. The units will run on the StrongARM SA-110 RISC processor, which will offer five times the speed of the current Newton's chip with only half of the power consumption. The models, called Shay, will break from the traditional message pad body design with larger screen and a built-in keyboard. The Shay unit will be contained in a thin, laptop-sized clamshell that will weigh about one pound. The screen will offer 16 shades of grey and be about 20 centimetres wide. The unit will run on the Newton OS and still offer handwriting recognition as an input method. The Shay units will have built in word processors, data bases and Internet Web browsers. The first model, expected to ship before the end of the year, will target the education market and sell for about US$700. A faster model targeting the business market will cost about $1,000. Many people have described the US Robotics Pilot as being everything that the Newton should have been. The Pilot is small, light, fast and relatively cheap. For many people, a notebook computer becomes nothing more than a very expensive typewriter and there is definitely a market for a light-weight, low-cost, no-frills notebook. With these latest models, Apple will offer consumers a notebook computer that weighs nearly nothing and costs a fraction of what most notebooks do. With the CPU's low power consumption and the simple LCD screen, the Shay units will be able to run for eight hours on four penlight batteries. The product's success will depend on Apple's marketing. By saddling the Shay to the Newton OS, Apple will give the machine capabilities that a laptop running on the Mac OS would not have. While using the Newton OS gives a technical advantage, the decision might be a market mistake. If the new product is billed as the latest Newton, consumers may be frightened off as they look on the machines as nothing more than over-priced, over-sized PDAs rather than lean, mean laptops.