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My second attempt to find a good portable word processor has led me to the AlphaSmart Dana.
I find it strange that these things have been advertised in Writer’s Digest magazine (the Neo has, anyway), but AS touts its business as centered around schools.
I certainly would not buy a Dana for the price they want new. At nearly $400 for the cheap variety (no WiFi), I’d be better off just getting a netbook.
But another used one off eBay, for around $30, is another story.
Off-hand, the device works just fine. It has several functions I have to navigate through to get to what I want–it’s basically a PDA with a large keyboard, and has the extra applications to show it–but once I’m in the writing app, it does the job I got it for.
Many of the functions, including saving and naming files, and transferring them from the device to an SD card, require use of the touch screen. And the touch screen’s responsiveness was…lacking. Like the eMate, this may be because the device was used, and was simply no longer in great of condition.
The Dana is also reported as having a battery life of about 25 hours, which is a lot more than any laptop I’ve seen. But I had my laptop set up to use the Dana as an external keyboard; I ate through that 25 hours pretty quickly.
And the used model did not come with a rechargeable battery pack or AC adapter, so I was going through batteries rather quickly on that thing.
I did, however, decide I liked it well enough that I’d be willing to upgrade to a new device. A new Neo, in this case, with a much longer battery life and much lower price range.
If I can convince my nephew to start writing more, I might let him have the Dana. Otherwise I’ll post it for sale, along with the various implements that I either acquired for it, or had laying around the house and no longer have a use for.