the Alphasmart Dana really sucks

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For about $400, they are selling a system that has

- a hard to read monochrome screen
- a very weak backlight and overly reflective display surface
- a superslow 68000-based processor
- a terrible word processor
- and palm OS, which really is BAD

Granted, it has a good case design and keyboard,
but those are useless with such an underpowered

Compare that to any of the cheap laptops that are
available nowadays which cost roughly the same
but have

- 1GHz or better processor
- 15 inch displays
- hard drives
- dvd drives
- decent software

Who in their right minds would even consider anything
from Alphasmart?

Re: the Alphasmart Dana really sucks

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I agree. I think there is a market for a gadget that is a cheap replacement
for a typewriter, something you can take to lectures or type on the train
and isn't a disaster if stolen.

I thought the Dana was it, but then I looked at the price tag and thought

I'd want something about a tenth of the price.

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I reckon I'd only use the thing for typing in text, then paste it into my
home PC to do polished formatting.

A 68K or even a 6502 can collect typed text fast enough, though one can soon
slow either to a crawl by giving it too much rendering work.

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I think the battery life may be heaps longer by not having all those things
you mentioned PCs having.

Re: the Alphasmart Dana really sucks

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Check out this company's new Neo.

I think I paid $230 for my son's. He can type on it, come home an upload
the text into Word on a Mac or PC. Easily. It is light, the screen is
bigger (2X) than the old AlphaSmart and it is commodity priced.

It doesn't do much of what a Palm does but most typing situations don't
require that level of functionality.


To respond, obviously drop the "nospan"?

Re: the Alphasmart Dana really sucks

You'd think that a 68k would be fast enough but when
I tried the Dana is was much slower than expected.
For instance if you have 5-10 documents stored in memory
it can take half a minute to a minute for the word processor
to even start up. I have no idea why. Scrolling down in
a document was slow. In general it was sluggish and
it was obvious that no effort has been made to optimize
the code.

Anyway if you need a good portable machine for writing,
you might consider a used Tandy model 102.

Although I have used a WinCE machine with Stowaway
keyboard very effectively for 2 hours of note taking
(then recharge).

Re: the Alphasmart Dana really sucks

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Can you point me to a site with $400 laptops with the specs above? I can't
seem to find anything close to that. The best I have seen is about $600.


Re: the Alphasmart Dana really sucks

Tony Clark wrote:

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Bestbuy has them for $500. I have heard of laptops going below
that but am still searching.

Re: the Alphasmart Dana really sucks

Tony Clark wrote:

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Given the choice between paying $400 for a Dana and $600 for a real computer
I'd go with the real computer.

Of course one can get a Palm and a keyboard and some decent word processing
software for a lot less than that.

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to email, dial "usenet" and validate
(was jclarke at eye bee em dot net)

Re: the Alphasmart Dana really sucks

What is this comp.sys.palmtops.complaints or
comp.sys.palmtops.rants?!?!?  :)

The monochrome screen is just fine entering text.  I agree that there's
something about the "user experience" that favors color screens, even
if it doesn't make rational sense all the time.  But the monochrome
screen does have a number of rational advantages, such as the ability
to be read in all lighting conditions, low cost, and minimal use of
battery power.

The processor is just fine for the tasks that this machine was designed
for . . . tasks that do not include playing video, or searching through
huge files.  "superslow" is not a term that can be used in the
abstract---a computer is either "slow" or "fast" depending on what the
tasks are and who the users are.

Similarly "terrible" or "BAD" are not attributes that can be assigned
to a word processor or an operating system in the abstract.  In
particular, millions and millions of people use Palm OS every day, so
even if it's so "BAD" people still seem to buy it, and use it
successfully to complete many tasks.

Compared to the laptops that you are talking about the Dana is smaller,
lighter, cheaper, more rugged, turns off and on instantly, has software
that's easier to use and less prone to errors, has much longer battery
life, and despite the slower processor, may actually be more responsive
(due to the OS).  It has a "lower cost of ownership" and is the kind of
thing one might deploy to large groups (such as students) all at once.
It's about the tenth of the cost of my Panasonic R3 ultraportable, and
yet is still lighter (although barely) and smaller, and gets better
battery life.  Of course, I can do a bunch of things with my laptop
that you can't do with the Dana, but I didn't realize when the Dana had
become the ultimate computing machine for all reasons!

What I'm trying to say is that there are some specific applications for
which the Dana is well suited.  Indeed, it reminds me a bit of the
Tandy Model 100 series, which were enormously popular with many
specific groups (particularly among journalists) long after their
processors might have been called "superslow."  While genuine curiosity
about why someone might consider a product from Alphasmart is more than
welcome, I don't see the point of such an invective message.

Re: the Alphasmart Dana really sucks

The thing about the Dana screen is that it is overly
reflective, so actually readability suffers, and then its
backlight is very weak so it is hard to use at night.

The processor SHOULD be just fine, but in practice
if you try using it on a daily basis as I have, what you find
is that having any number of documents stored
slows down program startup, and having more fonts
also slows things down.

I came to the conclusion that the Dana just has
really bad software included. The company thought
they could fob off half-finished toy programs as
usable or robust.

It falls massively short, and even the Tandy model 100
is much better because that is a product engineered
entirely by the company selling it. The Dana's software
is entirely done who other companies.

Re: the Alphasmart Dana really sucks

On Fri, 25 Feb 2005 04:56:55 -0800, Yef wrote:
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Huh???!?!  The Model 100 was made by Kyocera of Japan, with the OS written
by Microsoft under contract to Mitsubishi if memory serves right...

Tandy/Radio Shack's only engineering decision on that product was which
catalog number to assign it....

Re: the Alphasmart Dana really sucks

What about the Alphasmart Neo? Great battery life and quick response
times. This would probably make a pretty good "replacement for a
typewriter"(albeit quieter)

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