oh brother

Today I have an exclusive review of the Brother Super Powernote PN-8700MDS word processor. This technological marvel was released in the late 1990s and features an intuitive GUI along with word processing, spreadsheet, address book, and other basic personal information management functions. Here’s a quick run-down of the specs:

  • Unknown processor
  • 33 K memory
  • Internal 1.44 MB floppy drive
  • Compatible with Bookman cards
  • Parallel port (for printer)
  • Serial port (for optional external modem)
  • 9″ monochrome screen
  • 11.3″ wide x 9.5″ deep x 1.9″ thick
  • ~3 lbs
  • Includes Tetris game on floppy disk

I would break down the different aspects of the device bit-by-bit, but instead I’ll make this review succinct by just telling everyone what they want to know: how the Super Powernote stacks up to the iPhone.

  • Display: At around 9 inches, the monochrome, non-backlit display (with adjustable contrast) is much larger than the iPhone’s 3.5″ display, making everyday use much easier. It also reduces eye strain-related medical bills.
  • Battery: The Super Powernote actually has an optional removable battery – NiCad at 1400 mAh. The iPhone’s battery, of course, cannot be removed by the user and must be sent in to Apple for replacement.
  • Expandable Memory: With an internal 1.44 MB floppy drive, the Super Powernote lets you add and remove memory as needed, allowing for portability and convenient transfer of files to your computer. Also featured is a Bookman slot, for addition of such games as poker and such useful books as Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. The iPhone has no removable memory card, apparently because users of the iPhone would be overwhelmed by the necessary insertion and removal of the card.
  • Fax: The iPhone cannot send faxes while the Super Powernote is fax-ready.
  • Physical Keyboard: The Super Powernote’s full-size keyboard makes typing a breeze; conversely, the iPhone’s on-screen keyboard has a learning curve and pales in comparison.
  • Cost of Ownership: While Brother’s device can be had for as low as $20 on eBay, the iPhone will cost ~$2000 over a two-year period – that’s 100 times more expensive.
  • Finally, not every 12 year old (and his mom) has a Brother Super Powernote PN-8700MDS, unlike the iPhone’s ubiquity.

Those are the facts; you decide which is superior. I’ll leave you with a few photos of the beloved machine, before it returns to its rightful place deep in the dust-covered recesses of my closet.

9 thoughts on “oh brother

  1. Something I didn’t like while reading that “confidential information”:

    “The sealed form factor of the device makes repairs challenging and the potential for damage is significant.” They’ll only do exchanges, and no repairs. Ehh.

  2. You also didn’t mention the following advantages that the Brother Super PowerNote has over the iphone: doesn’t brick – ever, gives user complete control over OS, it comes unlocked so that you can connect to any provider at no extra fee, it’s extremely reliable and never loses data (big advantage), doesn’t try to control your life at every turn. Hey, I still use my darn PoweNote when I have to take notes and whatnot, I know it will be there for me, but I have been through 4 iphones and they always let me down when I need them the most. I gave up on them, hope brother puts out a phone soon too! (until then, I’m stuck with android)

  3. I am also a fellow Brother Power Note Super Graphic 9500 user and use this machine almost daily at my work. I have another carbon copy Power Note at home and carry a Casio Z-7000 (also GEOS based) PDA in my pocket everywhere I go. I am also a member of the GEOS (The GUI on the Power Notes) facebook group and invite all Power Note users to join.

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