Alphasmart’s $999 Dana is an affordable and lightweight notebook alternative: a mini-portable with a full-size keyboard, it runs on Palm OS 4.1 and can store 8MB of data or programs, and even more with cards in its two built-in Secure Digital slots.
The 560x160pixel touch screen measures 7.5x2.25in and displays 11 lines of 12-point text. That was more than enough to use the included, fully-featured AlphaWord word processing program or QuickSheet spreadsheet package. The slightly raised grey-scale LCD screen — which can be backlit — rotates from landscape to portrait format to show 42 much shorter lines.
The preproduction model I tried operated for more than 20 hours with its rechargeable battery pack. And if you forget the unit’s power adapter, you can use three AAA batteries.
AlphaWord and the basic Palm apps (Date, Address, To Do and Memo) have been modified to use the Dana’s entire screen; any other Palm apps you may use fit into a smaller 160x160pixel Palm-style screen. One of the Dana’s most distinctive features is its ability to act as a PC’s keyboard when the two are connected via USB. Conveniently, it can transfer Dana documents to any productivity application currently open on the PC.
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