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Comments on: AlphaSmart Announces the Dana Wireless

Dana WirelessAlphaSmart has announced a wireless version of the wide screen Palm OS laptop alternative Dana. The new model offers built-in Wi-Fi (802.11b) and a enhanced display screen.
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new dana

southbound747 @ 7/2/2003 1:20:36 AM #
i may be the only one at this site who actually uses/has the current dana. it is nice to see some progress with the new dana. but when will they catch up and incorporate os 5.0? and for $400 plus how about a color screen at least?

RE: new dana
M3wThr33 @ 7/2/2003 8:07:31 AM #
Well, it's good to see someone wants it. For my senior year, I used my Visor with a keyboard in my classes, and it helped MUCH MORE than a paper would.

What would help Palm and Alphasmart(Or whoever the company is) is to get them into schools and give each student one of them for the year and install Wifi printers in the class room. The only problem I see is lack of customizability(Might easily get switched) and chatting in class.

In my day, I had to use IR to chat. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, BAH!

I don't think you understand the gravity of the situation. We're in space.

RE: new dana
a3 @ 7/2/2003 8:34:43 AM #
I agree with southbound747 about color and OS5, however, since there are laptops at US$800 they have to remain as cheap as possible.

_______________________________________
Already a Tapwave's Helix fan.
RE: new dana
Edward Green @ 7/2/2003 9:56:22 PM #
I love this device. At 350 it works better than a lot of cheap laptops (certainly in the UK) which tend to be underpowered for the software available to work on them.

Now an OS 5 Dana with a double density colour screen would be very nice, but i'm not sure 1120x320 is realistic, and the 480x320 sony display wouldn't be wide enough. 960x320 perhaps? Matbe a 1.5 density 240x810? I imagine an OS 5 device will run as a single density device. Which is a shame because it would make a nice wide screen movie player. ;)

Still the OS 4 wireless model is tempting - I could stick it in my bag and cycle which my laptop is not suited for. What would be really nice tho' is if I could use WiFi to access a folder on a server as if it was a VFS card. Can't see that happening for PalmOS for some time.

Edward Green
--
http://www.khite.co.uk

Why Dana?

gfunkmagic @ 7/2/2003 1:38:59 AM #
I asked this question elsewhere, but hopefully I can get more responses here:

How does the Dana wireless compare market-wise to the Earthlink Mail Station ? The one 250 and 350 are much cheaper alternatives (heck the 150 is free after rebate!), although they do not offer wifi or PalmOS funtionality. Also, I think Alphsmart should have also integrated VoIP with this new model. That would have been a truely powerful combo...but perhaps that isn't possible with OS 4.1?...


----------------------------------------
"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."

-Pablo Picasso.

RE: Why Dana?
orb2069 @ 7/2/2003 3:34:14 AM #
How does the Dana wireless compare market-wise to the Earthlink Mail Station?

Like comparing apples to pipe wrenches. They're both the same color, but that's just about as far as it goes.

The one 250 and 350 are much cheaper alternatives (heck the 150 is free after rebate!)

The 150's "free", but using it requires a $12.50/month account from Earthlink - and also requires a minimum contract. Check
http://www.earthlink.net/home/mailstation/
for details on their various bloodsucking offers.

although they do not offer wifi or PalmOS funtionality.

...Which is the point of buying an Alphasmart, as opposed to a MailStation, or a pipe wrench.(Although IIRC, some of the MailStations do offer wireless communication - Just not through 802.11.)

Also, I think Alphsmart should have also integrated VoIP with this new model. That would have been a truely powerful combo...but perhaps that isn't possible with OS 4.1?...

Voice over IP? You're kidding, right? Even a brutally stripped down VoIP stack requires WAY more processing power than any 4.1 (Dragonball-based) machine is going to deliver.


RE: Why Dana?
ozz @ 7/2/2003 10:57:18 AM #
Hey, come to think of it, I DO need a new pipe wrench. I wonder if they come with wifi? :D

_________________________
Lord, help me become the person my dog thinks I am!
RE: Why Dana?
hotpaw4 @ 7/3/2003 3:56:47 AM #
This Dana has 802.11b, not a telco modem...

But a Dana with a built-in modem or a bundled USB modem might just give the mid-range MailStation some good competition. Just the fact you could choose an email appication which could use larger more readable fonts, or an ISP with custom spam filtering instead of being locked into Earthlink, would win a lot of customers. Plus you could bundle-in targeted PalmOS applications.

I can just see some VAR selling a bunch of Dana/modem/ISP bundled systems on late night informercials: (But that's Not All! Call Now, and we'll include a Free Calendar, ToDo List, Alarm Clock and Scrabble Dictionary! yada,yada...)

Dana

Strider_mt2k @ 7/2/2003 7:42:39 AM #
There is no Dana, only Zool.


strider_mt2k@yahoo.com

RE: Dana
pocketscience @ 7/2/2003 8:54:33 AM #
Who ya gonna call...?


Wassup? http://www.pocketscience.com.au/

RE: Dana
Quik_Fix @ 7/2/2003 10:22:35 AM #
Oh Zuulie you nut.


Oh my God. They found me. I dunno how but they found me...
RUN FOR IT MARTY!

Quik_Fix
quikfix@hotmail.com

RE: Dana
abosco @ 7/2/2003 11:24:24 AM #
Someone makes this Ghostbusters reference every time Dana news is posted. ;)

-Bosco
RE: Dana
Strider_mt2k @ 7/3/2003 2:51:47 PM #
That would be me.

(The classics never die.) ;)

strider_mt2k@yahoo.com

RE: Dana
Wollombi @ 7/6/2003 1:13:36 AM #
"I bet you have a lovely singing voice"

"...It sounds like there's already at least two of you in there already"

"I make it a rule not to get involved with possesed people".

Ok, I'm done....really. =)

_________________
Sean

It is not very comfortable to have the gift of being amused at one's own absurdity.
-Somerset Maugham-

DELL Inspiron 1100 Notebook - $699 NEW

Gekko @ 7/2/2003 12:24:03 PM #

http://www.dell.com/us/en/dhs/offers/specials_3x_special62.htm

$429 for this POS Dana??????

OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


RE: DELL Inspiron 1100 Notebook - $699 NEW
alanh @ 7/2/2003 1:27:33 PM #
Which one would you rather give to a 10 year old? (Hint: the one that will survive a 4 foot drop....)



-alan

RE: DELL Inspiron 1100 Notebook - $699 NEW
Gekko @ 7/2/2003 1:36:08 PM #
so would a rock - but that's not the point.

i'm talking about cost and value.

RE: DELL Inspiron 1100 Notebook - $699 NEW
abosco @ 7/2/2003 1:50:02 PM #
Durability has a price. There are tons of PDA's that are ruggedized for use in work environments and sell for thousands of dollars a piece retail. Of course, these prices are made to be discounted by selling in mass. Maybe a school will buy a bunch at a discounted price and issue them and classroom sets. I can see value in paying $250 per unit for that.

-Bosco
RE: DELL Inspiron 1100 Notebook - $699 NEW
hotpaw4 @ 7/2/2003 2:10:11 PM #
> so would a rock

Once you add in sysadmin costs and repair costs in school district volumes, a rock becomes a much better deal than a broken laptop. And the Dana is an even better deal because it would still let you type data into it after being dropped.

The other value you have to pay for is low weight. Those school book bags can get heavy and even cause back problems. How much does that Dell weigh? How much does a new under 3 lb Dell laptop cost?

I'll also bet the Dana has better battry life.

RE: DELL Inspiron 1100 Notebook - $699 NEW
smitty @ 7/2/2003 2:42:26 PM #
You're going to give a 10 year old a 7.5 pound laptop with a TFT screen and have her lug it about? So, after the first two screen repairs (one from a bad experience dropping the pack as she walks in the door, the other from having someone sit on the pack at lunch), you probably won't have to worry any more about repairs, because she'll be seeing the back specialist twice a week for injuries resulting from an overloaded back pack. He'll recommend a motorized tag-along trailer for the laptop, power adapter, and 15 pounds of paper books kids already carry.

And that "estimated" 3.5 hour battery life? What happens, in the middle of her language lesson, when she and the other 30 kids in the classroom get the message "Your laptop is now going into hibernation. Please plug in your power adapter" and all of them dive for the four outlets over behind the bookshelf? Do YOU want to the be referee in that fight? The Dana runs for days on AAAs. And, being solid state, the data is saved immediately.

Yes, for most of the folks who read this site, it's a bad choice. For my daughters, who are in high school, it's a bad choice. They'd never give up their wifi laptops (which run rings around an Inspiron!), and they don't want to carry anything that bulky or geeky. But for Elementary and Middle School, where they're learning keyboarding skills, cooperative learning, and data manipulation, having a room full of kids at their own limited keyboard workstation is much better than having them share 2-on-1 with a laptop, or 4-on-1 with a desktop. That's why the Alphasmart 3000 is such a great seller. The Dana just gives you more functionality - in the market where it's designed for.

RE: DELL Inspiron 1100 Notebook - $699 NEW
alanh @ 7/2/2003 2:54:59 PM #
Quoth the dell web site: "starting at 7.22 lbs"

No doubt the Dell is more computing horsepower for your buck. But it's not as rugged or as portable as a Dana would be.

The Dana is only 2 lbs.... Dell's closest competitor in that is the Latitude X200 at 2.8 lbs and "From $1499."

None of these products are competing for the same market....

RE: DELL Inspiron 1100 Notebook - $699 NEW
Gekko @ 7/2/2003 3:23:05 PM #
durability? try this with your dana

Dell Latitude Notebook PC Survive Torture Test for a Record Fifth Time

Dell Is the First and Only Notebook PC Vendor to Reach This Durability Milestone

PC/Computing's seventh annual notebook torture test rounded up 22 notebook PCs and subjected them to extreme durability measures. These measures include: baking the PCs for two hours at 180 degrees Fahrenheit; freezing them for another two hours; a 29-inch drop; and two liquid splashes, one with coffee and one with soda. After each test, if the machine still boots up and can retrieve data, it is considered a survivor.

http://www.dell.com/us/en/gen/corporate/press/pressoffice_news_1999-03-19-rr-000.htm


RE: DELL Inspiron 1100 Notebook - $699 NEW
Rhauer @ 7/2/2003 4:30:25 PM #
Well One thing is for sure. By the time you boot up the Dell, wait for XP to open, and get to Outlook, you'll have read all you emails, got some baseball scores and had a snack.

I hope this work, how about a 5x7 or 8x10 Palm (tablet)

RE: DELL Inspiron 1100 Notebook - $699 NEW
hotpaw4 @ 7/2/2003 8:13:09 PM #
The Dell model referenced doesn't appear to have built-in wifi, so you'd also have to hunt down an unused network port while waiting for XP to boot.
RE: DELL Inspiron 1100 Notebook - $699 NEW
73939133 @ 7/2/2003 10:46:21 PM #
"Well One thing is for sure. By the time you boot up the Dell, wait for XP to open, and get to Outlook, you'll have read all you emails, got some baseball scores and had a snack."

You don't have to wait for things to "boot" on laptops--you suspend your laptop; they take less than a second to wake up, whether you are running XP or Linux.

RE: DELL Inspiron 1100 Notebook - $699 NEW
chet-a-box @ 7/2/2003 11:40:21 PM #
hotpaw4 @ 7/2/2003 2:10:11 PM

> I'll also bet the Dana has better battry life.

Yup, 25 hours. Plus there's a choice of batteries - either rechargeable (which comes with the Dana) or regular (disposable) batteries. So when you're out and using the Dana, and the low battery level indicator appears, all you need to do is replace the rechargeable with regular and continue working. Instead of bringing along the AC adapter and looking for a wall outlet, all you need to bring along is a new supplye of AA alkaline batteries.


RE: DELL Inspiron 1100 Notebook - $699 NEW
chet-a-box @ 7/2/2003 11:44:33 PM #
73939133 @ 7/2/2003 10:46:21 PM

> You don't have to wait for things to "boot" on laptops--you suspend your laptop; they take less than a second to wake up, whether you are running XP or Linux.

But you still have to boot it up the first time, right? Suspending the laptop would still use some battery power, right? With the Dana, you click the "on" key and it's instant-on. After a designated length of time of inactivity, the Dana will automatically switch off, and instantly switch on again the next time you click the "on" key. Plus open up to whichever app you were using the last time.



RE: DELL Inspiron 1100 Notebook - $699 NEW
iebnn @ 7/3/2003 8:15:25 AM #
The Dana goes into "suspend" just like a laptop does. If you actually turned it off, you'd lose all your data (taking the batteries out is the only way to do this). It still uses batteries when the dana is "off" (in suspend).

My laptop is never off (or very rarely, I never go to "Shut Down" though). I do a reboot every so often (every week or two) though, but that only takes maybe 2 minutes.

This Dana is very nice for students though.

good news... but not for us

Pepper @ 7/2/2003 4:48:39 PM #
Glad to see an update for the dana -- this is really good news. Unfortunately though, it isn't very useful for 99% of the users at PIC. Despite that fact, the dana is a great solution -- its cheap, durrable, and easy for kids to learn. Although you might get more "bang for the buck" with other devices, their weight and battery life may be major inhibitors. Being a high school student with back problems, i have no difficulty understanding the use for a light weight solution. In fact, while searching for technological solutions to replace school backpacks, many laptops are still higher than the recomended weight once you factor in batteries, chargers, cables, and cases. (A child's backpack should never weigh more than 10% of the child's body weight. This means an elementry school kid could not use most laptops availible) Additionally, kids and technology will be a DISASTER if you don't purchase durrable goods. Kids aren't primarily concerned with technology -- they just want to play around and have a good time. And since Alphasmart already sells product to many elementry schools (they used to use them for my elementry school's keyboarding program), it shouldn't be too difficult to convince school districts to upgrade to a more useful model.

So, really, most of us are in no way, shape, or form interested in purchasing this unit... but the educational market should rejoice. Clearly, they've been able to sell enough product to create an upgraded model, so SOMEONE is buying. Even though it doesnt work for us, it's still a wonderful unit

-Pepper

I love my Palm . . . do you?

RE: good news... but not for us
chet-a-box @ 7/2/2003 11:51:04 PM #
Pepper @ 7/2/2003 4:48:39 PM

So, really, most of us are in no way, shape, or form interested in purchasing this unit... but the educational market should rejoice. Clearly, they've been able to sell enough product to create an upgraded model, so SOMEONE is buying. Even though it doesnt work for us, it's still a wonderful unit

AlphaSmart may be officially targetted at the educational market, but a lot of writers have found it to be the ideal writing tool that lets them write away from the desk. Inexpensive, lightweight, instant-on, long battery life, too.

So:
Official market - schools
Unofficial, but growing, market - writers


RE: good news... but not for us
Wollombi @ 7/6/2003 1:21:09 AM #
I just use a portable keyboard with my current PDA. Save docs to the memory card and covert later.

_________________
Sean

It is not very comfortable to have the gift of being amused at one's own absurdity.
-Somerset Maugham-

Woohooo!

RhinoSteve @ 7/2/2003 7:31:27 PM #
Wireless 802.11 on a classroom centric computer? Gives passing notes in class a whole new meaning! :) So which app would be good for that? hehe!

Anyone remember the TRS-80 Model 100?

probius @ 7/3/2003 12:17:55 AM #
The TRS-80 Model 100 was before my time, but I still hear some stories about it now and then. It was obviously very underpowered, but it reminds me of the Dana very much, mainly for the fact that it had the nice full size keyboard with small screen. Many journalists were great aficionados of this device, and I would think that this could be a popular use. Instead of waiting for a painful bootup, loading Word, having it crash now and then... I would think this would be a pretty good solution. What do you think?

RE: Anyone remember the TRS-80 Model 100?
RhinoSteve @ 7/3/2003 3:01:50 AM #
The Dana has a future. They are right now going after academic markets with thick student equipment budgets. That will keep them busy for a while. I see this really doing well when we see the price hit around $245

keyboard-based Palm devices

73939133 @ 7/5/2003 3:41:37 AM #
I have a Palm with a keyboard. The problem with keyboard-based Palm devices is that the OS wasn't written with keyboards in mind and that there is not very much software optimized for keyboard use and for use on this kind of screen.

This would be a much nicer machine with an ARM chip because then people would get a choice of operating systems and software.

RE: keyboard-based Palm devices
chet-a-box @ 7/5/2003 10:02:30 AM #
The Dana is not just a Palm device, but an AlphaSmart product powered by Palm OS. AlphaSmart has a proven track record of manufacturing dedicated word processors with full sized keyboards. The Dana integrates the best of AlphaSmart (the keyboard, lightweight, long battery life) with the best of Palm OS (simplicity, loads of 3rd party apps).

The built-in Palm apps are all wide screen enabled. Plus PalmReader, as well as the QuickOffice suite. More and more Palm apps developers are also coming out with wide screen support for the Dana.


RE: keyboard-based Palm devices
chet-a-box @ 7/5/2003 10:07:39 AM #
Navigation via keyboard on the Dana is also very easy and comfortable.

At last count, at least 10 developers have widescreen versions of their applications, including DayNotez by Natara and iSilo.



RE: keyboard-based Palm devices
Wollombi @ 7/6/2003 1:24:02 AM #
>"Navigation via keyboard on the Dana is also very easy and comfortable.

At last count, at least 10 developers have widescreen versions of their applications, including DayNotez by Natara and iSilo."<

Nice. I have to admit that if I needed it's functionality and couldn't afford a *decent* laptop (in other words, NOT Dell's Piece of S**t models), then this would be a great alternative.

_________________
Sean

It is not very comfortable to have the gift of being amused at one's own absurdity.
-Somerset Maugham-

RE: keyboard-based Palm devices
73939133 @ 7/6/2003 2:50:02 AM #
"At last count, at least 10 developers have widescreen versions of their applications, including DayNotez by Natara and iSilo."

Yes, yes, a handful of applications with their own keyboard bindings and ad-hoc support. That's peanuts compared to the literally thousands of wide-screen and keyboard-based organizer applications available for DOS and Linux.

As I was saying, PalmOS may run and have a few applications, but these machines would be much more useful with an ARM chip and a wider choice of operating systems.

Something's just occured to me...

Be3G @ 7/5/2003 6:18:17 AM #
Has anyone realised that this is the only Palm OS device on which having both BlueTooth and WiFi is currently possible?

Thomas

Check out the Palm Tungsten|T review at www.comp-talk.co.uk

RE: Something's just occured to me...
epall @ 7/5/2003 5:04:52 PM #
Um, what about a T|T with a wifi card. I guess that's not quite here yet. What about a T|C with a BT card. No, I think the drivers aren't there. But wait! What about the NZ90? WiFi CF card and built-in BT. There you go!

RE: Something's just occured to me...
Wollombi @ 7/6/2003 1:25:45 AM #
>"But wait! What about the NZ90? WiFi CF card and built-in BT. There you go!"<

Gee, and all for only about $1000.00! What a deal! (sarcasm). With that setup, the Dana looks like an absolute value! LOL

_________________
Sean

It is not very comfortable to have the gift of being amused at one's own absurdity.
-Somerset Maugham-

RE: Something's just occured to me...
Be3G @ 7/6/2003 6:20:03 AM #
Good point... I forgot about the NZ90!

Thomas

Check out the Palm Tungsten|T review at www.comp-talk.co.uk

For me? I'd like to try.

Electricus @ 7/6/2003 9:50:17 PM #
For years I was a psion user, the netBook being my ultimate machine and the EPOC operating sytem being the most reliable I'd used since the days of the C64.

I primarily use portables for two tasks: memo pad and word processing, the latter of which I use to write documents that can become quite large.

I recently switched to the TT because of screen brightness and increased portability when coupled with the folding keyboard. I have mixed feeling so far. Limited cut & paste capabilities, occasional crashes, slow response times, short battery life, and formating problems with each and all of the major three word processors: Quickword, Wordsmith, Docs2Go.

Now, I am forced to scratch my head, wondering if the Alphasmart Dana better suits my needs. It has a nice wide screen, but I need the display to be vibrant, working in a variety of lighting conditions. I wonder how this unit stacks up against machines such as the psion 5mx, psion netBook, and Palm TT (yes, I realize the Dana is not color). The first two on that short list sport the superior OS, the last features superior screen technology.

It would be ideal if Alphasmart offered these new 16-gray scale Danas on a trial basis, a 30-day period in which you can review the product and decide for yourself if it functions to your individual needs. I know they do something similar with lesser models, such as the Alphasmart 3000. Otherwise, it seems like too much of a gamble, IMO, because it is an unknown quantity; you can't play with Alphasmart products at a retail store before deciding to plop down your hard earned cash.

JeffT

Why don't you just steal one?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/7/2003 2:28:19 AM #
If you're too cheap to buy the AlphaSmart, just steal one from that little kid that lives next door to you. Or trade them their AlphaSmart for the new Britney Spears CD. Either way, you'll save a bundle.

I'm typing this message on my daughter's AlphaSmart right now. They're great machines and could probably do well outside schools if/when they get a better screen. These things are indestructible and could replace laptops for more people than Microshaft would care to see.


Land of the free

How Palm could HURT the Windows laptop market

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/7/2003 3:46:20 AM #
Produce a series of Dana clones starting with a model with a 400 MHz ARM processor, 64 - 128 MB RAM, color 960 x 320 pixel screen, dual CF and SD slots, integrated 802.11b and Bluetooth, flexible power options, Palm OS 6 with the native ability to run all apps transparently from expansion memory, software package with apps compatible with MS Word, Excel and Outlook, true (non-proxy) web browser and security (like TealLock). Throw in a suite of some of the best freeware apps showcasing what Palm OS can do (DiddleBug, HandyShopper, Vexed, YAUC, etc).

Price it at $399, optional color and transparent cases for the kids, basic black for adults and PUSH PUSH PUSH it *everywhere* as a STABLE, DURABLE, INEXPENSIVE replacement for Windows laptops. Businesses, schools, sales people - you name it. Whip up a few TCO studies showing huge cost savings with deploying these instead of laptops, drop a few ROI numbers and suddenly Palm has a new market and is even more entrenched in business than before.

Palm needs to do this before Microsoft finaly figures out a way to implement their Windows Everywhere (TM) for Global Domination ("WEGD") plan. The 960 x 320 screen size might be a problem, but otherwise the hardware and software for these PalmTops (TM) can easily be sourced right now. Time's running out for Palm and they need to reinvent themselves - the way Handspring did - before it's too late. Palm OS smartphones and mini-laptops might be their only chance for sustained growth.


Land of the free

RE: How Palm could HURT the Windows laptop market
orb2069 @ 7/8/2003 4:21:45 PM #
...After all, we see what good reinventing themselves did Handspring, right? [/sarcasm]

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