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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


Thanks for the note. My first response was no italics! ;) At least they didn't have any on the Ulysses demo I tried. There was an emphasis, as I recall, but it wasn't available in full screen. I do like their full screen and clean interface, though. Two of my concerns are: the 'forever' factor in releasing ver 2, and it's pricey. (I haven't check in a couple of months, so things might've changed.)

I do have Copywrite, which is similar (the full screen is very nice), but frankly, I'm stuck using Word, which is the only program I know about that lets me create macros. (There's something splendidly Luddite-ish about using a fancy word processor to recreate key commands from a 25-year-old program. I still can't do some of them, but quite a few.)

The problem is that I want the cursor control keys and other basic editing functions where I don't have to take my hands off the "home" keys. If I can keep my fingers on the keyboard, I can do a lot of writing in automatic mode. When I have to look down and either find the arrow keys or find the home keys after using the arrow keys (or delete or the function keys), then I (sometimes) lose that intuitive thread.

And to keep from entirely hijacking this thread - the Neo comes so close (nice and basic) but I can't change the editing keys or add to them. I've tried to keep the little iBook I bought as clean as possible, but I noticed that both DevonthinkPro and Endnote have snuck on there. That's something that wouldn't happen with a Neo. (Unless you count Inspiration Outliner...)




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