As a writer I love the Internet. I use it all the time to research information, read for fun, stay informed, play games, and make money. To say my laptop has paid for itself is an understatement.
Writing has been a passion of mine since I was a little girl, long before the Internet was even a concept, let alone a reality. While the Internet can do a lot to enhance this passion, it can also be distracting. And distractions can easily mean losing potential income.
Several years ago I bought a Quickpad, which I liked, at first. It was relatively inexpensive, especially since laptops were still well over $1000 and far from my budget. The Quickpad had a full sized keyboard and displayed a few lines of text. I wrote at coffee shops, on the bus, pretty much anywhere. Then I would beam what I wrote onto an open wordpad document and copied it to whereever I needed it to go. But the infared signal eventually went kaput, and it had been increasingly unreliable, missing several letters and requiring that whatever I wrote on the go to be extensively edited before it read the way I intended..
Then laptop prices went down, my income went up, public WiFi became the norm and I was a happy girl. I didn’t need to “transfer” anything. It was all right there. With my laptop, everything I need is at my fingertips. But so are a lot of things I don’t always need, and it’s got be missing my old Quickpad.
The company that made Quickpads are likely out of business now, since I can’t find them actually on sale anywhere, but there is a comparable device that I am seriously considering. It’s a Neo made by Alphaword Plus.
The Neo has adjustible font size, so it can display up to 6 lines of text. It’s affordable, both the regular battery and rechargeable battery versions are under $200. It allows for file transfer via USB cable– not the annoying infared beaming thing. Three double A batteries keeps the NEO going for up to 700 hours. It’s less than 2 pounds. It’s word processor includes a spellcheck, thesaurus, and Spanish/English translation. It also comes with a typing tutor. Storage is 512KB, which translates to about 200 pages of text.
What it doesn’t have is pretty much anything else. No Internet Access. No email. No games. Alphaword Plus also makes a higher end word processor called the DANA. The Dana also looks very nice, although it is more expensive at $350. Like the Neo, it weighs around 2 pounds, but it can do a little more. It runs on a Palm OS, and it’s word processing program is directly compatible with MS Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. You can expand storage with memory cards, and read ebooks with Palmreader.
Personally I don’t think the Dana is worth the extra money, but of course that would depend on individual needs. There would also be the tempation to upload games, which would defeat the purpose of having a low distraction device.
Here are some reasons why I’m really considering a Neo.
- Low distraction. Have I mentioned I love the Internet? It’s really easy to get sidetracked when working on either an assignment, or something I just feel like writing. This wouldn’t happen with a Neo, unless I’m suddenly dying to take a typing test.
- Long lasting and light. I could fly to Australia and keep writing the whole way! It weighs less than 2 pounds, so I could cart it around all over town even when I’m walking (which is how I get most places.) I would have to find an outlet, or go home after a couple hours because my laptop battery is running low. The laptop is portable, but it can get heavy after awhile, especially if I have the cord too. I could also carry it to the coffee shop 3 miles away without my back going out from carrying the extra weight.
- Save wear and tear on my laptop. If I can manage to print out a few source pages and write articles from there, I should be able to still do a lot of work on a Neo. If I do need to quickly access the Web, I can do so on my phone and use a lot less power. I’ll need the laptop to actually submit anything to any websites, but having longer resting periods is likely to make the laptop last longer.
- Cheaper = Increased Portability, more exercise Part of the reason I let my gym membership go was because I carry my laptop everywhere and I’m nervous about leaving it in a locker room locker. Most people would just lock their backpack in the trunk of their car, but with no car this is not an option for me. Since the Neo is under $200, I would be much less nervous keeping it in the locker while I worked out.
For my current writing needs, there will definitely be times when a little ‘ol Neo isn’t going to cut it, especially when it might be necessary to submit several assignments while away from home, but I do think it is a great companion to a laptop that may result in making me more efficient, and even healthier. Like my laptop, I think in the long run it woud pay for itself.
Surprisingly, the Neo, and similar devices aren’t even marketed to writers. The primary sales target is schools are parents of elementary aged kids. Discounts are offered with large orders and for educattional institutions, and they certainly would be beneficial to students for a lot of the reasons they are to writers.
Yep, I think I’m definitely putting the Neo on my wishlist. If I still want it in a month, I might just take the plunge.