Thursday, September 25, 2014

My newest writing tool -- the Alphasmart Neo

Ooo, aaah, it's like the 1980s all over again.

What you see above is my Alphasmart Neo, basically a portable word processor. You can plug it in for use, but there's little need since the three AA batteries in the back will last up to 700 hours. Yes, you read that correctly -- 700 hours. It is about the size of the smallest netbooks though lighter than any laptop I've yet to run across, and it doesn't bother with the clumsy configuration of tablets with connecting keyboards. There is no Internet access, which means no distractions. When I want to transfer my files over to a PC or Mac, all I have to do is connect them with a cord and the story moves over. It offers a simple word count and spell check and calculator, along with a few other things which I can't name right now because I never use them.

Not quite flat.
More importantly, it has doubled my writing speed. I can now tap out about 2,000 words an hour.

There are other versions of the Alphasmart which offer more bells and whistles, including some Internet access, faster transfer of files, teaching tools, etc.

Originally the various versions of the Alphasmart were marketed to the education community, specifically to grade schools through high schools. Unfortunately, the sales must not have been there since the company which made the Alphasmarts ceased doing so about a year ago. Maybe they should have tried marketing to writers, because there is a growing number of writers over at the kboards who are now using one Alphasmart or another (and sometimes more than one) for their daily writing, like me.

For some time I had been looking at word processors, but I had not found one which fit my needs. My Neo does everything I want it to and nothing more, which is perfect. I don't want extra bells and whistles or Internet access. I want to be able to carry this little gadget wherever I want and to be able to write with absolutely no distractions. I have found it perfect for that.

Actually, no, that is not from a story of mine,  though the
character menioned is. I just made up the text to show an
example of the screen and font.
One downside is file transfer is fairly slow, but apparently there is software that allows for faster movement of files. I've simply yet to try it.

Also, the screen might appear small to some, but the font size and the number of lines that can be viewed can be adjusted. Also, though it took some getting used to, I believe being able to see less of the story, and not being able to jump around in the story so easily, is what has increased my word count.

I did have an HP netbook which I quite liked, but I gave it to a family member who's computer went blooey on them.

If you're interested, you can usually find an Alphasmart or ten for sale on eBay or at Amazon. But I suggest studying the different versions first to find out which fits your needs. For me, it's the Neo.

4 comments:

Paul R. McNamee said...

Cool. I know Ryan Harvey has sang the praises of his Neo quite a lot.

Paul R. McNamee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Gramlich said...

I've often thought about something like this but I have laptops at home and work. The increased speed is an interesting element.

Ty Johnston said...

Paul, add me to the list of the praisers! :-)

Charles, the potential for increased speed and the 700 hours of battery time were what did it for me. I don't have to worry about lugging around some cables or looking for a plug when I'm in a public space. And my Neo is much lighter than even my small HP netbook.