I’m writing this on an AlphaSmart 3000. My AlphaSmart is my dreamweaver and my supertool, my textfactory and my musemeister. In fact if you asked me to choose between an AlphaSmart and an I-Pad, I’d take this baby because when it comes to generating raw text, less is more – and by that I mean less gadgetry is more productivity.
I needed something that was portable and that could write and save text. I needed the technology to turn a coffee shop into a furnace of writing productivity. I didn’t want something like a laptop that takes more than a minute to boot up and then offers all sorts of things to do other than to write, like check email, play minesweeper, and surf the net. I just wanted something that would provide an uninterrupted transmission of my thoughts through my fingers and into text.
The AlphaSmart is a big player in a tiny niche of what are technically known as “smart keyboards”. This one runs on two AA batteries that have lasted four months already. Switching it on is as quick as turning on a pocket calculator. Any text I type on this machine is displayed on a simple screen, 40 characters by 4 lines and automatically saved into one of 8 files so I can simultaneously carry around and work on up to 8 documents or articles. Whenever I need to I can plug the Alphasmart into my PC via the USB port and press “send” to transfer the stored text to whatever document I have open at the time. No fuss, no frills.
These little machines are popular with writers on the go but better known in schools as educational aids for people with learning difficulties. They have a passionate fan base and the simplicity of the design is such a marvel that these devices even have their own group on Flickr.
In spite of the gushy tone of this post, I don’t get a sales comission on these things (mine was £50 on ebay) I just love my Alphasmart.