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Summary: not so nice
Review: ...I find this portable word-processor a wonderful gadget. It's a lot tougher than most laptops, as well as lighter and less expensive. Also, the batteries last a lot longer. So I take it with me whenever I don't wish to lug my computer around. I also like the fact it can store up to eight documents, as well as upload the document to almost any word-processing programme on the computer.
The one drawback I find is that the machine only works with basic font. It does not have a footnote, italics, bold or underline function -- all of which would be handy. I also suggest you pay the extra and get the built-in rechargeable battery pack as well as the carrying case, since each of these makes the AlphaSmart much more convenient to travel with.
Summary: Great for University
Review: I am studying a course in Computer Systems at University, I have a desktop in my halls but I wanted a laptop to use in lectures as I have a learning disabilty. I was recommended the Dana by a friend, for the price I think that it is a great piece of kit. The full size keyboard is a joy to type on, and the product itself is ALMOST indestructible (I know this as it gets bashed around in my bag). The widescreen is great when using Alphaword, although in most Palm applications there is a Dana logo on the left of the screen as most applications haven't been converted to run in widescreen. I would recommend purchasing an SD card as you can only store 8 files in the internal memory, which can be a bot of a problem if you are away from your PC and cannot hotsync. Overall this is a well made, cost effective and portable alternative to a laptop for word processing. Therefore, I would recommend this product to anyone.
Summary: Very good product for people who like to do writing anywhere
Review: I like writing on the go -- in coffee shops, book stores, libraries(!), on my bed before I sleep... And my laptop didn't quite cut it because of power and size.
I was a little apprehensive before buying the Dana because of dimension (too big and I wouldn't carry it), keyboard (I wanted a laptop feel), and screen (too small would be a problem)
but I am quite satisfied with all of the above.
Dana is light and compact. It is large in form, but no larger than a sub-compact notebook, and certainly much thinner and lighter. I put it in my bag/sack without hesitation.
The keyboard is terrific (looks and feels like an Apple keyboard) and the screen is, while not outstanding, good enough, with a nice backlight. It could be a little bigger -- this is the reason I don't give it 5 stars -- but I guess the engineers needed to make a trade-off here.
The rechargeable battery lasts a long time, certainly more than enough for lugging around without its charger for a day (and I'm sure it lasts a lot longer than this -- just that I haven't tried it for more than a day).
I with the AlphaWord would let me change the default font (I like using Times New Roman and 20 points on the small screen). That would be my only complaint. With the supplied default font, however, I can use it without much difficulty so I am not too upset.
I haven't gotten around to using the Palm features, although I have a Palm Tungsten T so I doubt I ever will. I suspect my use is the sweet spot for the Dana -- light word processing on the go. The previous reviewer's comment suggests the same.
Dana's website says that there will be an 802.11b ready version out in the future. This would be a pretty cool addition to an already useful product. As it is, I highly recommend it for people who like writing anywhere.
Summary: My daughter uses it like a laptop -- and loves it!
Review: I purchased this Alphasmart Dana for my nine-year-old daughter to help her with her homework - and she absolutely loves it! She uses the built-in Alphaword (word processing) program which appears full-screen, and she prints via infrared to any one of several IR printers we have in our home (an HP 990, 995, 450 portable or Photosmart 1315, to be more specific). She saves all of her work to her own 32 MB SD memory card. The Alphasmart turns on immediately (unlike a PC which needs time to boot up); the batteries last for days (and she even knows where to plug in the recharger when they get low). The unit is easy to use and very durable. Everything she needs to word process is self-contained in the Alphasmart Dana; and she never needs to sync with a PC in order to use it! (The Alphasmart, incidentally, will also print via a USB cable - but that isn't nearly as much fun for my daughter as printing wirelessly.)
She composes her writing assignments while sitting in a chair or on a sofa. She uses a lapdesk (that we purchased from Levenger, a mail-order company) when she works on our bed. Needless to say, she loves the Alphasmart Dana because it allows her to use it just like "Daddy's laptop," which she easily prefers over sitting at a desk and typing on a standard PC.
I also use the Alphasmart Dana for my own word processing (to write product reviews such as this one) while I'm waiting for my daughter or her brother at their sports or music practices. I have my own SD memory card to keep my work separate. And I like how I can import the text into a MS Word document open on my computer simply by hooking up a USB cable and hitting the function key marked "send." (Any receiving PC can accept the data - and doesn't need to have the Alphasmart Palm desktop installed in order to do so.)
The standard dictionary and spell checker which comes with the Alphasmart Dana is fairly inadequate. I've downloaded the Noah Pro dictionary and thesaurus from PalmGear.com, and both are significantly better.
The formatting capabilities of the Alphaword program have been generally sufficient for most of my daughter's assignments. For those times when an extra level of "prettiness" is required, my wife will normally upload the text to a MS Word file, and format the document accordingly.
Neither my daughter nor I use the other Palm features (such as calendar, address book, to-do list, or memo) that's included. (I use my Palm 515 for those.) We use the Alphasmart strictly as a friendlier, more durable - and less expensive - version of a laptop computer. In this capacity, the Alphasmart Dana has performed wonderfully.
My daughter now loves to write - and does so without any prompting. The Alphasmart Dana has proven to be an excellent investment. I highly recommend it!
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