TECH REVIEW: Alpha Smart Dana

NOTE: Gadget on loan, courtesy of Chet (lovely babe; met her on NaNoWriMo while I was figuring out how to go about writing while I was in Krabi – she kindly volunteered her little Dana for me to use…it’s still with me and I intend on giving it back to her, even though part of me doesn’t want to – you’ll find out why. Read on!)

Picture taken from Alpha Smart’s website

Note: The following general and technical information was obtained directly from Alpha Smart’s website.

If ever in need of a gadget that would allow writer-wannabes and actual writers to tinker around with their literary talents on the road OR even on the move, one should consider this nifty little gadget above everything else. Forget about your Palm OS with the ultra small foldable keyboard or that huge ass, heavy laptop with dinky WiFi. Dana offers the writer the basics in a nice little easy to carry ‘object’. Read on further for a test road by the author during her four-five day trip to Krabi as well as around her home and office.

*General & Technical Specs
Weight: 2.0 lbs. (.91 kg)
Height: 1.9 in. (4.8 cm)
Width: 12.4 in. (31.4 cm)
Depth: 9.3 in. (23.5 cm)


Advanced LCD with backlight — 560 x 160 pixels (3.5 times wider than the typical handheld device)


2 expansion slots for MultiMediaCard or Secure Digital cards

Power Options

Rechargeable battery pack
AC adapter
3 AA batteries (not included)

Desktop Import/Export

Import CSV, Tab delimited, TXT, vCard, and vCal
Synchronize appointments, to-do list, memos, and word processing documents

Flexible Storage Capacity Highly efficient operating system with 16MB of memory stores thousands of addresses, years of appointments, hundreds of to-do items, memos, and documents, and more than 100 applications (based on average application size of 50K)

*Personal Opinions
Frankly, if I had the cash and if I was published and busy with writing instead of grading assignments and teaching, I’d get this nifty little gadget. Since I have started travelling much more often than I had before, I found it extremely useful to keep my ideas coherent and easily (without breaking out into pen and paper and go through all the hassle of typing it again into the PC), and I found it excellent for killing time. Most of my trip to Krabi required me to be on the road in the bus, plane or van. Stupid me didn’t bring a book, so I whipped this gadget out from a slingbag (together with my important documents and wallet, plus MD player, comb, pens and tickets as well as a lipbalm and coins) I took with me and I just started typing.

At the airport, it went through X-ray just great and when I started typing in the plane, no one came around to bug me unlike if I were to flip open a laptop. I found it easy to get my ideas down than to scrummage around for a pen and paper, write it and maybe lose it in the packing. In the bus, it came in handy because of the backlight. I took the night bus, so all I did was put in on my lap, switch on the backlight from the screen and continued typing. It wasn’t too bright and it didn’t disturb the people around me. In the van on the way back from Krabi to Hatyai, same thing.

Having this gadget is wonderful for someone like me who gets her inspiration from everyday surroundings and situations. With this, I can just grab it off the study table, head over to a cafe or coffee place and type type type. No need for long troublesome sockets (for laptops) and no need to squaint and type funny with a PDA keyboard.

Favourite part? Marrying Dana with my pc. I just take a USB cable (comes with the gadget when you purchase it but because I loaned it, I had to improvise – took the USB cable that hooks up my PC to the Canon printer), tap on one button twice and automatically it types itself into MS Word or Notepad. Saves me the trouble of typing stuff out again as I would have if I had chosen to write using pen paper.

Only trouble I had with it is….lets see…nothing? ^_^

My thanks to Chet for loaning me this. Otherwise, I would have never been able to finish “The Home of The Fallen” on the 18th. Would have taken me much longer. Many thanks!!!

ps: If you love toys and writing and want something simple (no frills and no fuss), get this! Worth the investment!

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