PDA

View Full Version : Should I buy one?


ballistic
07-11-2004, 08:58 AM
Does anyone have experience with or own an Alphasmart Dana? Jeff Kirvin?

I'm thinking of getting one for my wife; she wants to get back to writing in her spare time and the Dana has been praised by writers and journalists. I got my wife a mint Apple Newton eMate 300. It has a great keyboard, excellent battery life and she loves writing on it, but it is a pain to connect to a desktop to transfer data (one of the Newton's biggest weaknesses).

The Dana comes with a great word processor (AlphaWord based on WordSmith) and there is a wireless version that makes an excellent wireless email terminal. She isn't very tech savvy and has refused my PDA hand-me-downs (USR Pilot 5000, Palm IIIx, Clie NX70V), but she likes the eMate because she can use it anywhere in the house to write. She doesn't need a full fledged laptop (although I've tried to talk her into an Apple ibook or Powerbook ).

The Dana has dual SD expansion similar to the Zodiac, so it would be a good, compatible counterpart to my new Z2. For $29 more than the Z2, it would be a lot cheaper than a full fledged laptop with much better battery life, instant on, etc.

Any first hand experience would be greatly appreciated. It sounds like a perfect device for her and I'd also get some use out its WP capabilities. The Dana lacks retail presence (sound familiar?) and I'm hesitant to buy one sight unseen.

*YellowRose*
07-11-2004, 05:48 PM
I've heard (okay, read) a lot of terrific things about the Dana . . . but it's not very portable . . . it looks like it would need a laptop-type bag to travel . . . I think a 'regular' size PDA with keyboard would be MUCH better for traveling, and if she's going to write at home, why not use a regular computer?

I guess it depends on HOW she's looking to use it . . . mostly. :( Not much help, huh? :D

ballistic
07-11-2004, 06:48 PM
Rose,

She spends most of her time at work behind a computer, and our home office is in a third floor loft. Sitting behind a computer in a remote room in the house to write in her spare time doesn't appeal to her. With a Dana, she could use it in the family room, kitchen, etc.

She doesn't really want a PDA as I've stated, but the PIM functionality would come in handy, we could sync our address books, to do lists, calenders, etc. Add to the fact she could use programs like Handyshopper to make grocery lists and beam them to my Zodiac2 so I can do a little grocery shopping on the way home (nice husband ;) ).

JohnKes
07-13-2004, 05:34 PM
Sounds like something she would find very useful. Portable will be key*. There are travel bags available for it, although I forget where.

*I just set up my PC with BT so that I can surf and sync with my Zodiac2 from the couch while my wife uses our PC. We are a 1 computer family.

ballistic
07-13-2004, 09:10 PM
JohnKes,

Thanks for the input. :)

*I just set up my PC with BT so that I can surf and sync with my Zodiac2 from the couch while my wife uses our PC. We are a 1 computer family.

I really enjoyed the same functionality with my Sony Clie NX70V with the wifi card using Netfront for wireless web browsing and ClieMail for wireless email.
The Zodiac's browser needs some serious improvement and I'm getting impatient without a Zodiac Wifi solution. :mad:

I bought one of the Belkin 100 meter BlueTooth dongles for my PC, but I'm only seeing about 15 feet of range :(. I'm seriously considering an Anycom BlueTooth Access Point if a wifi solution doesn't become available soon.

From what I've read, the Dana Wireless makes a nice wireless email terminal in addition to using it for writing/WP. I'd still like the option of having my wife try one out before buying.

JohnKes
07-14-2004, 10:20 AM
JohnKes,

The Zodiac's browser needs some serious improvement and I'm getting impatient without a Zodiac Wifi solution. :mad:

I bought one of the Belkin 100 meter BlueTooth dongles for my PC, but I'm only seeing about 15 feet of range :(. I'm seriously considering an Anycom BlueTooth Access Point if a wifi solution doesn't become available soon.



The Z browser definitely needs help. It has trouble loading Yahoo! I can surf from my bedroom (~20 ft) using my Anycom 240 BT dongle.

Peppy
08-21-2004, 08:52 AM
I have friends and coworkders use have these in their classrooms. They use the Alphasmarts though that came out before the Dana with PalmOs on them. They are great! Very rugged. The students schlep them all over the classroom, the school even, and type all sorts of things. They are pretty easy to sync up the computer (even the older ones). The screen is pretty decent and you can see quite a bit of what you're writing. I've been tempted to pick up a Dana for myself but with my T3 and the wireless keyboard I don't have much use for it. The Alphasmarts are pefect for those who want a full size keyboard and a larger screen.

ballistic
08-25-2004, 07:23 PM
Peppy,

Thanks for your input. I'm pretty close to getting her a Dana, her birthday is Saturday and I've been subtly hinting about the Dana Wireless to see if she's interested. Right now it's about 50/50 so I might go ahead and get it for her. I figure she could give it a try for at least a month or two. If she doesn't like it, I'd probably end up using it to write articles (for Tapland, shameless plug ;)) or get rid of it on eBay and find a good used laptop for her instead.

Brian

vrf
08-27-2004, 11:48 PM
Get the Dana. I agree with the various reviews around the net that it is the best machine for just writing that has ever been made. No exaggeration. The keyboard is absolutely wonderful.

Cyker
08-28-2004, 03:29 AM
Yeah - definitely; If you want a good word processor but without the bulk of a laptop, the Dana is awesome.

A lot of people get laptops for this sort of work, but the Dana has very good battery life and you can type for ages :)
Unlike a laptop it's very light and a lot more durable (I mean, don't drop it, but if you do it has a far higher chance of still working :))

I must confess I haven't used the Dana itself, but I have played with the other AlphaSmart ranges, and the keyboards are great! Very comfortable. You can touch-type at full-speed on them, which is very difficult on a PDA, even with a full-size keyboard extension.

EDIT: Also, check the place you're buying it from - Alphasmart might offer a no-quibble returns policy if you just want to try one out (e.g. you pay for it, but if you don't like it then, within some time period, you can send it back and they refund you).

ballistic
08-29-2004, 07:47 AM
Thanks to all for your input. I decided to buy a Dana Wireless for my wife from Alphasmart's online store and should have it the beginning of this week. I'll let you know our initial impressions.

Brian

chatter231
06-09-2006, 09:52 AM
my alphasmart Neo is haveing problems. There are some blank spaces in increasing numbers appearing on my screen.
Like this:
|||||||||| |||||||||| ||||| || || |||| |||||||| ||||||||
the "|" is text and the " " is the bars. Does anyone know how to fix this?
I havent dropped it, and I just replaced the battery.
HELP! :eek: :eek: