Well, it’s finally arrived! I struggled through the new excite e-mail system to find the tracking number for my Alphasmart, only to see that it finally made it to my local mail center for delivery today. I opened the door and watched for the mailman. I could hardly contain my excitement when he stopped in front of my house. He had a box. Hmm… that’s about the right size. It’s here, it’s here, it’s here! I felt a little like I imagined I would have felt in the third grade if my junior detective kit that I ordered from the weekly reader had ever arrived. Boy, how’s that for pulling out an old injury? Anyway, this thing is lightweight, yet heavy duty feeling. It’s got a nice chunkiness and was built to withstand the torture of elementary school kids and it really shows. My particular alphasmart lived it’s previous life in a school, and I’m only too glad to give it a new home.
The keypad is about the same size as the keyboard on my laptop, and it has a nice heavy tactile response. I’m from the old school of thought that thinks you should be able to hear your keystrokes, and so it’s a nice fit for me. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that mine was one of the IR models, meaning that I might not have to order a special ps/2 to usb adapter for use on my wife’s computer. Using the standard ps/2 cable, I plugged “the little keyboard that could” into my Linux lappy and loaded up Abiword. I hit the send button and watched in awe as the sample paragraph I had written magically typed itself on my screen. You’ve got to love an electronic device that just works like it should.
This particular model is supposed to hold about 64 pages of text… way more than I’ll ever write in any one sitting. It doesn’t have many bells and no whistles to speak of. It does have spell check and a find button, but I’m not sure I’ll ever use those. Apparently, It’s also possible to print directly from the Alphasmart 2000, another feature I don’t anticipate using much, if ever. I’ve read reviews that complained about this model having a hard to read screen, but I find that the standard block text is very easy on my youngish eyes. It doesn’t have a backlight, which would be nice, but certainly not necessary. I’ve also seen reviews that bragged about the semi-transparent case on the later alphasmart 3000s but I actually prefer the opaque blue casing of the 2000. They say the battery life on these things is phenomenal, that I should be able to get several hundred hours of use out of the 3-AA batteries.
The light weight, lack of distracting features, and platform independence of this this little tool should mean that I can increase (note I didn’t say “improve”) my writing output.