Monday, September 04, 2006

Finally He Gets To The Review

Happy Labor Day, laborers and non-laborers alike. This is one of the few Labor Days that I don't have to work. Wayyyyyy back in my post of 11/27/05 I raved about the AlphaSmart 3000, a product I hadn't even used but was going to get for Christmas and I promised a review of the product. This is what I wrote at the time:

The Alphasmart 3000 IR is a keyboard with a memory and a little screen. According to the website, it runs for hundreds (!) of hours on 3 AA batteries (!) and stores about 100 single spaced pages of text. You can use it anywhere and then upload your work to your PC. It auto-saves every keystroke and turns on and off in a couple of seconds.

Well, after about nine months of actually using the thing, I have to tell you, it is indeed awesome. It's very light and therefore portable and it's built to last. I've been using the same batteries since Christmas and according to the power indicator, I may have used about three percent of the juice so far. To be honest, since I've been posting a story a day, I've been getting much more use out of it. I take it to work and often hammer out most of a first draft on my lunch break. Once home, I upload the file to my PC and finish it off.

Here comes one of the most important parts though: For some reason, cutting and pasting doesn't work very well either when I'm posting here or in my nearly identical MySpace blog. It raises my blood pressure and takes forever to edit a post into shape. But if I copy my post from my PC back to the AlphaSmart, it's able to enter the text into the blog not as a cut and paste, but as if it's typing really fast. I can't tell you how much my lifespan has been extended because of this machine (I really can't because I don't know, but I bet I'm getting at least a couple extra days tacked onto the end), not only because my stress levels over blogging have evaporated, but because of the time I'm saving by not having to overhaul each post.

Now that you know how wonderful it is, I have to tell you can't have one. Sort of. See, I was telling a customer at the job about its wonders yesterday and told him to check the website. Being the person that I am, I checked the website ( when I got home to see what he would see and discovered that AlphaSmart no longer sells the 3000. Of course, it's too late to tell him otherwise, but I'm telling you. The base model is now the Neo, which is swell and has more bells and whistles as well as more memory, but costs $110 dollars more. I'm not saying it's not worth it. If all you're doing is writing it's still cheaper than a laptop. But if money is really tight you may want to check ebay for an old 3000.

You can still buy accessories for a 3000 from the AlphaSmart website. I must warn you though, not to invest in their GetUtility software. I shelled out an extra $30 for it because they suggested it was the only way to download text from your PC to the 3000. This is not true. The AlphaSmart Manager software does the job just as well. Save your money.

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