Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dana by Alphasmart

I earlier wrote about the Neo and how useful I find it for note-taking. I was always tempted by their other product, called "Dana," since it sports the Palm operating system and thus provides access to more sophisticated applications for scheduling, outlining, and writing rtf files. But I found it always too expensive to justify the added capability.

A few days ago, I bought a Dana on eBay at a fraction of the cost (less than $100.00, including shipping, instead of $350.00). It works well, though I had a bit of a problem getting the program for syncing installed on Vista. But everything works now.

I like the instant on/off convenience and the well-designed keyboard. It looks just like a Neo, except it has a larger screen. It also sports two slots for SD cards.

This does not mean that I will retire the Neo. It will still be useful on longer trips, as the Dana's battery life is only about 25 hours, whereas the Neo runs more than 700 hours on three ordinary AAA batteries. (The Dana uses a battery pack that needs to be re-charged with an AC adapter or per USB port on a computer. I have ordered a USB adapter that plugs right into an electrical outlet, however.)

Here is an interesting post by a writer on working with an Alphasmart (who actually convinced me that having both an Neo and a Dana is defensible): Tom Morrisey. Go to "First Drafts and Early Revisions" and "More on Writing a Novel with Alphasmart."

I will only take notes and write "0-drafts" on my machine.


Solard said...

Greetings, I hope you're still looking at comments on this post. I just got an ebay-purchased Dana and a new, Vista-running laptop for Christmas and although the Dana can sync stuff to the laptop, the laptop can't sync stuff to the Dana. I've found no practical help with this, and since you've figured it out, maybe you can help a fellow traveler? My email address:, if you feel you might be able to help a stranger in need.

Thank you, in advance, even if all you do is read this comment.

MK said...

There is a fairly active user group. The address is And they seem to be very knowledgeable. Much more than I am.

I have gone back to the Neo myself, and I upload exclusively from the Neo (or Dana) to my main computer.

I don't know which software you use to sync, but if I remember correctly you have to use the correct version of the palm desktop that is supplied on the Alphasmart Website:

There is also an update of the drivers for Vista, and that may do the trick.

Best wishes,
Manfred Kuehn