After having many laptops and being distracted enough that I still was relatively near the starting point of the novel I have been wanting to write- I decided to change tactics. I participate in NaNoWriMo every year, and every year there are several people touting the wonderfulness of the Aphasmarts. So I decided to get one. I was actually looking for the Alphasmart 3000, but ended up getting the Alphasmart Dana. That turns out to be the better choice for me. And if you are thinking about getting an Alphasmart- I’m going to give you the features – well, the features that I think are necessary in order to make an informed decision on which one you should get.
When you get an Alphasmart Dana (they don’t sell these anymore, so you HAVE to get one second-hand):
1) If it comes with regular AA batteries, replace them with a NEW rechargeable battery pack. You can buy one from RenLearning for like $10.
2) Get the Seller to include an SD card. It is hard to find an SD card that’s 1mb or less. And while the Dana will see ANY SD card, it will not write to any card that has more than 1mb of space on it.
3) Never trust internal memory. Especially if the Dana has been sitting a few days. Always save to an SD card.
4) If you have to change batteries- you have about 30 seconds from the time you take that first battery out, till the time you put the last new battery in, before you lose internal memory. If you save to an SD card- that really shouldn’t be an issue.
4.5) If you are changing from rechargeable pack to regular batteries (or recharge pack to recharge pack)- leave the old pack hooked in, while you put the new batteries in (or new pack in). Once the new batteries are in place, then you can disconnect the rechargeable battery pack (and connect it to the new recharge pack).
5) Of course you will need several SD cards for backup. Just in case.
6) The Dana has a backlight, but you might want to get a little book reading light, if you are going to be typing in low light conditions. Trust me- your eyes will thank you.
7) My Dana came without a stylus. Since you are not using them for brain surgery- pretty much any stylus will do. However I recommend heading to the electronic section of your favorite department store (or heading to your gaming store), and pick up a Nintendo DS accessory pack. It should be about $10. You get three styluses, two cases (for your DS games, but SD cards fit in those perfectly), and a cloth to keep your LCD screen clean.
8) If your Dana comes without a USB cord- get one! You can recharge the Dana by plugging it into one of your computers USB port. (Which came in handy as my Dana came without an AC adaptor plug.)
9) Get an AC adaptor plug from RenLearning, if your Dana came without one. You will have occasions where you will need it.
10) Carrying case! Absolutely get one! They placed the On/Off button in the least likely place for you to accidentally hit it, but I still do. So a carrying case will at least minimize these occurrances. I hear the 13″ cases work superb, but I actually bought mine from RenLearning. (It was $10. Not a bad price.)