My Newton MessagePad 120 came in the mail yesterday (well, it almost came on Friday, but Mail Dude decided to not even try my house, and left a card in the box to come get it the next day after 1pm. nice.)
It worked out of the box - needed AA batteries, but I knew that. I'll be picking up a new internal backup battery asap as well. It turns out that it was very handy having an antique PowerMac 8600/300 still running in the home office, because installing the Newton Connection software (and connecting the old school serial cable) was trivial.
I had the exact same model of MessagePad back when I worked in the Faculty of Nursing (we were going to be working on PocketNurse - an offshoot of PocketDoc, which was one of the big medical Newton apps at the time). We actually had a few Newtons around, some of which were upgraded to Newton OS 2.0 (but mine never was). I think my memories of using the Newton must have been tainted by the times I used a 2.0-infused 120, because I distinctly remember a different font, and having the text insertion caret on screen - neither of these are present in Newton OS 1.3.
I also remember the handwriting recognition being much better and faster - but that's likely an illusion imposed by memory over time. Like the way I remember the F/A-18 Interceptor flight sim on my Amiga 1000 as being photorealistic and realtime, but when I actually fired it up again, a couple of years ago, it was like 512x384 and 5 frames per second. I have a tendency to idealize memories. Not sure if that's a common thing or not.
Anyway, I've downloaded a couple apps onto the MP. It's been hard finding apps for it, since most of the apps that are in the online archives are for Newton OS 2.0. At the bare minimum, Evan's having fun drawing on it. That's worth it right there.
The handwriting recognition is really not that bad - the "training" process is, I think, more for myself than for the MessagePad, because I've noticed my spectacularly godawful handwriting and printing getting marginally more legible as I go through the process.
I'm looking forward to playing with the eMate 300 when it gets here. It comes stock with NewtonOS 2.1, so that will clear up any false memories. I might have to keep saving and spring for a MessagePad 2100 - one I was tracking on eBay just went for almost $400, though. I can't justify that yet.