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Kendall Clark: AlphaSmart Neo's interesting for what it's _not_

On the Joys of Primitive Computing: The AlphaSmart Neo

I keep hearing rumblings about the AlphaSmart Neo, but haven’t put my hands to one yet. Anybody out there got one? Tried one? Seems a bit steep at $250, but I’d love to play with one (<accent belle=“southern”>Why, I declare: I do believe I’ve dropped my kerchief: AlphaSmart, would you be so kind…?</accent>).

Kendall Clark seems to think Neo’s part of a larger trend:

I am so over hardware, and I have been for more than a decade. I take pride in making my living from technology and doing so with very old, even decrepit hardware….

Oddly enough, the Neo is basically a computer for school children. It’s stunningly stupid and, well, primitive. I’m enjoying it so much, and being so productive with it, that it’s got me thinking about what I’ll call Primitive Computing and Power User Devolution.

The Neo is interesting not because of what it does or what features it has, but what it can’t do and the features it’s missing. It’s all about one thing and one thing only: writing. I’m most comfortable turning any task into a writing task (when all you have is a hammer…), which means I’m super comfortable with a primitive device that’s really only good for writing.

And no internet. Some days, I believe I’d find that pretty appealing.

Gary Sharp's picture

My experience as longtime AlphaSmart...

My experience as longtime AlphaSmart user mirrors the positive comments posted here by other AS users. I haven't tried the Neo yet. I do very much like my AlphaSmart 3000 because it's so readily accessible and easy to use. I've typed many documents on it at work including grants, press releases, and more. The instant on is a big appeal, but it's overall simplicity and portability is the main attraction. I've used it while traveling, in motel rooms, and while parked in my car. It's interesting that it's a device mostly marketed to public schools, and gets discovered by writers of all ages, especially adults in widely varied fields. I know it isn't the "perfect" writing device. It all depends on your needs and personal preferences. It feels good to my hands. I find that I get going on writing projects faster, possibly because it has no Internet access, so I'm not tempted to check email, etc. Although I have and am very happy with my PowerBook, the AS 3000 is still a tried and true, favorite writing tool.




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