Neo2 Alphasmart Word Processor with Full Size Keyboard, Calculator
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- ALPHASMART NEO2 PORTABLE WORD PROCESSOR WITH USB CABLE AND 3 (AA)BATTERY IS INCLUDED. TESTED/WORKING
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Very light and portable. To save transfer a file, plug the USB into your computer, open your word processing program, and push the Neo send button. It types right out to the open document. Can also be directly connected to printer. Working arrival
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The screen is not backlit, but you can adjust the contrast. The words and symbols are those dark, liquid crystal ones you might remember from old calculators or palm pilots. You can adjust the "font," too, although this only means telling it how many lines of text you want displayed (max. 6).
There's no saving what you type, or even auto-save. What you write is just there, in one of eight files (accessed by a function key), until you either delete, backspace, or hit the "Clear File" key (the latter of which does give you an "Are you sure?" prompt for protection).
Open one of your eight files, plug the Neo2 into a USB outlet on another computer, and open an email, a text editor, a Word or Open Office or any other wordprocessing program, and hit the "Send" key. You don't need to worry about device compatibility, about having the right driver, about whether you're using the right version of Windows (or any other operating system, I'm sure): Your computer treats the Neo2 as if it's another keyboard, and you can literally watch what you typed out in the on the Neo2 get re-typed into your computer. The only downside here? The "Send" feature does enter all your keystrokes faster than you could type then yourself, but not by much; each file on the Neo2 holds 20-25 pages of text, and they get entered into computer at, by my guess, about 20-30 seconds per page. How I do it: type the first draft on the Neo2, give it a rudimentary gloss, then start sending it to my laptop while I go get coffee or take a break with the dogs. When it's all done typing itself, the file will be on your computer for easier and more thorough editing work. (Note: the file will also still be on the Neo2 until you clear it; sending it to another computer does not automatically erase it from the Neo2.)
Now, yes, this device is no longer supported by Alphasmart or by the company that they became, recently. But what's to support? It's basically a typewriter without the ribbon or paper or the need to retype things. And while editing on it is not as easy or as pleasant as doing it on a computer with a touchscreen or mouse, you actually can delete, backspace, cut, copy, and paste on it, unlike other free-writing devices marketed to writers now. Plus, because this is a classroom device, made for heavy use by kids, the thing is rugged as all get out, meaning that you can (and will) take it and use everywhere - unlike a laptop.
Oh, and it has a full-size keyboard, with keys that are just a little clicky but not a headache. It's really a joy to use. I just love this thing, and went and bought a second unit to give my writing buddy for his birthday next month.
When these really start to catch on, expect the prices to soar. I got both mine from sellers, through Amazon, in the thirty-dollar range, like new. (I could have paid less, but didn't want to get ones that had been very used - although I see now that they really can take whatever I expect to dish out. I just need to make sure not to scratch the screen, and I expect to be using mine for years.)
The machine boots up in seconds so you can easily get to work. The screen has good contrast, about the same as a TI calculator. I have pretty terrible sight, and the standard font size is big enough to see clearly, though it can be made bigger or smaller depending on your preference. The keyboard has good tactile feedback, but it may be too loud for some. There are 8 file slots, with each able to hold more or less 10,0000 words. If you use for extended periods of time this may be a problem, but as I transfer my work weekly this has not been a huge issue for me.
The best feature for me is the godly battery life. In the months I have owned the neo 2 I am still trucking along, though just in case, I'll plan to change the 4AA batteries once a year so I'm not tempting fate. I also have an alphasmart Dana, and I much prefer the neo for this reason alone. The Dana has a backlight, a sort of touch screen, and a bigger screen with more features, but the battery life is only about ten or so hours. Between the neo and the neo 2, there is not much functional difference, save that there are more classroom features you probably will not use, and the neo 2 is a nicer charcoal color as compared to the inexplicably army green of the neo.
The main interface may take a while to get used to since we are so used to our GUIs, but you technically do no need to even use the interface, and the keyboard shortcut functions are printed on the back for easy reference.
Overall, this is an invaluable tool for writing, and if I had to name one downside, it would be having to constantly explain to friends, family, and curious onlookers what it is when I use whip it out. I usually say its a digital typewriter, though if I'm feeling cheeky, I'll just say it's a giant calculator.
Helpful accessories to the neo are a booklight so you can type in the dark (I use a mighty bright), and for traveling, a 13.3 inch laptop sleeve fits perfectly.
It runs on plain ol batteries. I bought it supposedly used here on Amazon, but it's practically new.
The screen takes a little getting used to, but otherwise, it's fine.
And the transfer to my computer for a print out is fun to watch. Like a ghost doing the typing. It doesn't take long either.
The idea is... this has no internet connection so if you want to write, you write. That's it.
Battery lasts forever too.
It's simple and to the point. I like it.
NB- when I got mine it was set to start up into a program that required it to connect to the non-existent school network- which meant that it wasted like 20 seconds during startup trying to find that application. With a bit of research I was able to reset the startup program to the writing application, making startup almost instant. The sellers might want to look into making sure that it's set to the writing program, as that's what most people are going to want.