AlphaSmart Introduces Palm OS-Based Laptop Alternative

AlphaSmart Inc. has unveiled a portable computing solution for the education market that is an affordable alternative to laptops. Called the Dana, the 2 lb. device is powered by Palm OS, and features a full-size, integrated keyboard and touch screen. The Dana's rugged, lightweight design and long battery life make it versatile enough for students to use in the classroom, on a field trip, at home, as well as for quizzes and note taking. The device is designed with a high degree of flexibility, allowing students to use a keyboard or stylus interchangeably. In addition, the WritePad for Graffiti entry can be configured for right- or left-handed users.

Measuring 12" x 9" x 1", Dana is loaded with 8 MB of memory. It offers users an advanced LCD screen with backlighting - 560 x 160 pixels in horizontal viewing mode and 160 x 560 pixels in vertical viewing mode. Dana also has two expansion slots for adding memory, as well as SD or MultiMediaCard peripherals. In addition, students can use the device to print their work directly to a USB or an IrDA-enabled printer, synchronize information with another user's PC or Mac through a standard USB cable, or beam information to and from other infrared-enabled devices. The device can be powered by three AA batteries, an AC adapter or a rechargeable battery.

Dana supports the more than 10,000 Palm OS applications now available. In addition to its standard built-in utilities, such as a date book, address book and to-do list, Dana supports applications tailored specifically for the device. These applications include AlphaWord writing and AlphaSmart Admin software; Infinity Softworks' powerOne Graph graphing calculator; Quickoffice, which enables the viewing and editing of Microsoft Excel and Word compatible files; and Palm Reader. Dana will be sold with an education-specific software bundle at a discount, starting at $369. AlphaSmart Inc., Los Gatos, CA, (888) 274-0680,

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2002 issue of THE Journal.