Comments on: AlphaSmart Extends Palm OS License

AlphaSmart has announced that it has extended the terms of its licensing agreement with PalmSource. The new contract, which gives AlphaSmart the ability to continue to innovate on the Palm OS platform, extends the terms of its original agreement by more than two years, or through December 31, 2008. 
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I keep waiting for wide-spread adoption

Ambassador @ 3/19/2004 11:04:14 AM #
This is such a great product. I am confused as to why it has not caught on better. I worked with a 3rd grade class where each student had palm IIIx but I think they would have gotten a lot more out of the Dana.

Serving Christ thru serving others,


RE: I keep waiting for wide-spread adoption
Kesh @ 3/19/2004 12:55:44 PM #
Part of it, I think, is just that people balk at the idea of it being 1) a large Palm device (aren't those handhelds?) or 2) a slimmed down notebook (what, it doesn't run Windows?).

Personally, if they can come up with a wireless Dana that runs Cobalt, I'll sell my laptop and get one of these + an iMac.

RE: I keep waiting for wide-spread adoption
rcartwright @ 3/19/2004 1:07:02 PM #
I am reviewing the Dana Wireless and am finishing a long use review of the Dana. The Dana is a lot more portable that it appears. Its light and fits well in your hand. Its not that much more bulky than a portfoilo or big DayTimeer that hard core notetakers carry around. AlphaSmart is an education outfit and the Dana is designed to be used in the K-12 market. I am here to tell you that its well nigh indestructable. Owing to a sudden heavy gust of wind, I can say a Dana took a 8 foot fall onto asphalt protected only by an unpadded nylon bag. Not a mark, and has been running for months since.

I hope that AlphaSmart does consider some style chagnes to make it more attractive to the business market. I think that it has incredible potential, especally the wireless, to be an excellent ad hoc corporate notetaker.

Life is a great adventure or nothing.

RE: I keep waiting for wide-spread adoption
ganoe @ 3/19/2004 1:31:09 PM #
If this had Palm OS 6 and an easy way to sync data between the desktop and other Palms, I'd probably get one. The screen resolution is good for plenty of things, from what I've heard the keyboard is excellent, and I can really appreciate the 8 hour battery life.

RE: I keep waiting for wide-spread adoption
GregGaub @ 3/19/2004 2:23:59 PM #
More like 25 hours. 8 hours would be the Wireless version with constant wireless access, and even THEN 8 is being conservative.

-- SeaPUG: --
RE: I keep waiting for wide-spread adoption
chet-a-box @ 3/20/2004 11:16:08 AM #
Yes, the battery level drops pretty fast when the WiFi feature is on and the Dana is online.

But I've found that, once I log off and the WiFi is not in use, the battery refreshes itself and goes back to the level before the online usage, or just a little lower, depending on how long my Dana was online.

I also think wider adoption will be good
Eutychus @ 3/20/2004 10:27:41 PM #
This news is encouraging. The Dana is good. With its long battery life, it is great for taking camping and using the week or two. I also get distracted when using my laptop and the Dana can help me focus on just the business functions and writing. But there is always room for improvements. It is good to hear they are likely to be made in the years to come.

RE: I keep waiting for wide-spread adoption
thomaslb @ 3/22/2004 8:06:31 PM #
If they do make cosmetic changes I sure as tootn hope they don't loose the Kevlar Armor-like ruggedness of the device. This is by far THE MOST rugged palm unit on the general market. You can fling it across the room and it will still go (unless you were in a real rage and were a gorilla). I had mine fly across my minivan when I hit the break and lost a big mac and a coke and it continues to work perfectly (cosmetically only got a scratch and small dent.'s a moment in time I would like back......

Not for me

euan_rideout @ 3/19/2004 12:23:37 PM #
I think it is too bulky, sure because of the keyboard but how will it fit in your bag? Besides it has a small but wide screen, is black and white. I think it is a bigger verson of a Psion but with Wi-Fi.

RE: Not for me
rsc1000 @ 3/20/2004 1:32:55 AM #
it is meant for the education market - schools.

RE: Not for me
thomaslb @ 3/20/2004 10:10:00 AM #
No it's not. They have moved into mobile professional markets. I have 2 of them for my business (case management) and they are great. If there is to be a Palm Laptop in the near future this is a likely place for it. And though I lament the loss of my TRGpro in my business model Dana does things better. At 2 1/2 lbs it most certainly is mobile. Fits well in the smaller sleaves for notebooks. And it's PALM OS. You put DocsToGO Premium, Wordsmith, Dateman, and ShadowPlan on a Dana Pro (screw the WiFi since that is nowhere right now and just a battery hit) and you have a bitbucket data powerhouse. If you're serious about these things being more than music-playing gamer toys.

I run a 64 meg SD card and a 512meg SD card in the 2 slots on mine and all my programs off of them and, well, life is just really grand. This news thread gives me high hopes for an OS 6 reflective screen version. Which I won't get if it doesn't have [a]user replaceable battery (say NO to disposable palms) and [b]10+hour battery life.

I'd love to see them branch out.

JonAcheson @ 3/19/2004 12:27:35 PM #
Something like the Dana with a hinged VGA screen could be very sexy. It could have a nice big battery too, or maybe 2 replaceable cellphone batteries.

Though, on the other hand, it's not Alphasmart's market, and I'm not sure most Palm software would really work that well at VGA resolution.

Jon Acheson

"All opinions posted are my own, and not those of my employers, who are appalled."

RE: I'd love to see them branch out.
thomaslb @ 3/20/2004 10:19:46 AM #
A lot of Dana users fear putting a hinged screen in there will add a flimsy factor that isn't called for. I hear a lot of griping myself about psions and such that usually had these break on them. Wouldn't know since I've never owned a hinged screened-mobile device (don't count a laptop since that is DEFINITELY not mobile).

RE: I'd love to see them branch out.
thomaslb @ 3/20/2004 10:22:40 AM #
Oh--and the Dana comes with user-replaceable NMimH AA's that you can charge through a wall plus as you use it OR drop-by the nearest 7-11 for a cheap replacement powersource (something Palms have lost in the past few years).

RE: I'd love to see them branch out.
JonAcheson @ 3/22/2004 3:06:09 PM #
I think if you increased the screen size you'd have to put a hinge on it, becasue the current screen as about as big as you can get in the current form factor. Use a laptop-style metal hinge, and it should be durable enough.

"All opinions posted are my own, and not those of my employers, who are appalled."

RE: I'd love to see them branch out.
BUDD @ 3/22/2004 8:00:37 PM #
The medal hing would help (except manufacturers seem to insist on plastic--which is perfectly fine for everything...but hinges). But holding my Dana in my hands I am convinced you could get another inch in on all sides of the screen with the form factor as it is. Almost a tablet really.

I used to have a Non-palm one

Zippy @ 3/19/2004 1:09:52 PM #
These keyboards are fabulous. I used to have the model prior to the introduction of the Palm platform in their company.

They are very light and built to withstand quite a bit of abuse as they are primarily designed for children's use. The keyboard is quite large and luxurious and a pure pleasure to use. Because they are so light and tough and do not generate any heat, you can use it almost everywhere: in bed, in front of tv, on lap etc...It's NOT AT ALL like a fragile laptop.

I keep getting a craving for one of these every now and then which I may just have to give into.

I'm hoping that they will introduce an OS 5 model for compatibility with current software. I'm not really interested in color just the fabulous keyboard.

They have quite a following among writers and other adults too not just children.

Uhmmmm....DAnaaaaaaa....must resist....must resist...

RE: I used to have a Non-palm one
GregGaub @ 3/20/2004 11:37:40 PM #
/me whispers "Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it!" ;-)

-- SeaPUG: --

NOW put in a real serial port!

RhinoSteve @ 3/19/2004 9:44:31 PM #
Ok now that you extended the license, but a real DB-9 serial port on it. There are thounsands of thousands of serial devices out there that can use a product of this form factor. You have the size, you have the power, now just fire that "serial port is dead" marketing puke that kept it from being in the first run. This alone will grow your sales not to mention saving on the salary of that marketing puke.

RE: NOW put in a real serial port!
hotpaw4 @ 3/19/2004 10:18:52 PM #
You can always use a IR to serial converter pod. Expansis has them. Great if you need some isolation.

RE: NOW put in a real serial port!
GregGaub @ 3/20/2004 1:02:24 AM #
In fact, someone I know who develops Palm apps for a specific clientele uses the Dana to monitor the activity of certain kinds of hardware using the IR port as a serial interface.

-- SeaPUG: --
RE: NOW put in a real serial port!
RhinoSteve @ 3/20/2004 11:45:59 PM #
That is a good hack but in many enviroments, that is not an acceptable solution. It can be done quite affordably and if you carefully look at the injetion mold case, you can see a very suttle outline that is DB-9 serial port sized filled in from the mold. Thus, the case was designed for it. Just need to see when it is done.
RE: NOW put in a real serial port!
hotpaw4 @ 3/21/2004 4:41:13 AM #
The market for units with a serial port is probably relatively tiny.

But a Dana with a built-in modem! That would give those Mailstation slates a good run for the money. You'd get a choice of several good PalmOS email programs where you don't have to worry about Grandma picking up an Outlook virus/etc.

I picked up an IR travel modem on eBay, but that makes a two piece solution.

AlphaSmart forum?

hotpaw4 @ 3/21/2004 4:39:07 AM #
So how come AlphaSmart doesn't get their own forum here on Palm Infocenter? I mean if Tapwave and Garmin get their own forums...

RE: AlphaSmart forum?
GregGaub @ 3/21/2004 9:27:01 PM #
They have a VERY active community on the Alphasmart web site. I'm not sure if there's a need for another on PIC, since the vast majority of Dana users are from a different market. There's a Yahoo group for Alphasmart as well, but it's very low traffic. While it would be noble of PIC to put up an Alphasmart or Dana forum, I don't think it will be very busy, simply because the best community for Alphasmart users is on the company site.

-- SeaPUG: --
RE: AlphaSmart forum?
chet-a-box @ 3/22/2004 1:42:13 AM #
The AlphaSmart Community Centre is located here:



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