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Thoughts on the Alphasmart Neo?

As mentioned in a number of the Alphasmart Neo is a portable word processor that was originally designed for students. It's attracting some attention because it's so single-mindedly focused on typing words into a file---and that is it. No iTunes, no AIM, no Mine Sweeper. It's also portable, allowing you to sync up via USB when you get home.

So two things.

1. Who all out there owns one or has used one? Would you recommend it to others? Who is it best suited for?
2. In terms of finding patterns: if we think of the Neo as one (radical) tool for reducing distractions while writing, what would a similar tool look like for other kinds of creative work? What about designers, artists, and songwriters? Or is this kind of interruption problem peculiar to writers? (I for one think it is not). Will we all eventually end up back on pen and paper if we want to get anything done?

Whatcha think?

Tricia's picture

Love my Neo, but I love my old iBook more

I have a Neo (and an old Alphasmart Pro, bought when it was new, and a 'regular' Alphasmart as well as a Dana - yes, I am a tech junkie). The Neo's big pluses are its instant-on (and instant save) and that it's silent. There's no set up, just pull it out of its neoprene case and go. (And its batteries last nearly forever.)

What I've found though is that I when I get into full writing mode, I much prefer the automatic word rearranging that I have with my macro-modified Word. I used to take my Neo out because I didn't like hauling my Powerbook around (too "precious" ;) ), but I bought a used 12" iBook last year and find that that's what I reach for most, especially when I'm going out and about. I don't have a lot loaded on it, and I back up onto a flashdrive as soon as I'm done, but the best thing is that it's not precious.

The Neo is the 'word-processor' of choice for a lot of writers and I think that if my writing habits had've formed after the early days of word-processing I would probably reach for it first like many writers do.

(What I want is WordStar back. Yeah, it's hard to get more anachronistic than that, but -man- I could fly with it. I do have one ancient "portable" (in quotes because it weighs as much as a desktop - an NEC plasma screen has-to-be-plugged-in DOS machine) that I've put WordStar on, but it's so loud that it's like writing while sitting on a runway at SFO.)




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