AlphaSmart Updates the Dana Laptop

AlphaSmart has announced they are now shipping an updated version of Dana at a lower price of $379. The update includes more internal RAM, updated software and support for additional peripheral devices including SDIO cards and WiFi adapters.

The original Dana model has been updated with new features and enhancements, including a doubling of memory capacity, SDIO support for adding peripherals via Dana's two SD slots, additional on-board fonts, and enhanced spell checking technology in AlphaWord, Dana's word processing program.

Additional software updates include the latest version of PrintBoy Premium which adds printing support for many Palm OS applications, additional USB and SDIO drivers that offer expanded support for several USB modems and select 802.11b wireless network adapters is now built into Dana and more built in fonts for Alphaword.

AlphaSmart also made a few hardware tweaks and Dana's display now supports 16 grayscale shades and the internal memory has expanded from 4MB ROM/8MB RAM to 8MB ROM/16 MB RAM.

The majority of the new features (other than expanded memory) can be installed on previous models of Dana by AlphaSmart using DanaUpdate version 1.2, a software update available from the company for a $10 charge.

About the Dana
Powered by Palm OS 4.1, Dana includes a full-size, integrated keyboard and a 560 by 160 pixel touch screen that is roughly 7.5 by 2.25 inches. The backlit, monochrome screen is 3.5 times wider than what's on the typical Palm OS handheld. The screen image can be rotated both horizontally and vertically.

Dana weighs two pounds. It is 12.4 inches wide, 9.3 inches deep and 1.9 inches thick. It is made of strong ABS polycarbonate plastic and has been designed to survive being mistreated. It has an infrared port and two USB ones and can be HotSynced like any other Palm OS model. It comes with a rechargeable battery and an AC adapter. It can also run off three AA batteries. AlphaSmart rates the battery at 30 hours, off of a single charge.

Thanks to Guarav for the tip.

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ultimate netdevice if...

Stingray @ 8/19/2003 12:24:13 PM #
This would be the ultimate netdevice if it had a vga screen...kind of like that sharp pda that was like a mini laptop..but i suppose that would put it in a higher price range.

"May the potato be with you!"
RE: ultimate netdevice if...
GregGaub @ 8/19/2003 1:23:41 PM #
it would also kill the phenomenal battery life. Though honestly, if they wanted to, they could increase the thickness at the base by like 1/16" and gain a TON of room for a bigger battery. Give it a li-ion polymer battery, with like 2500mAh rating, and a transflective 16-bit color screen, OS5 with a 400mhz processor, and ZOWEE! :) I'd much prefer that to some laptop that will be toast if it gets nudged too hard. ;-)

-- SeaPUG: --
RE: ultimate netdevice if...
robman @ 8/19/2003 1:55:20 PM #
True, the Dana could be great for surfing the web if the screen were VGA. But honestly that's not the point. This is a device which has all the practical functionality for which computers are used in schools---but it costs 1/4 as much and will last twice as long, and students can take them home!

If I had a school-age child I'd by the Dana for them in a heartbeat.

Palm Enthusiast since 1998

A useful machine for email in the field?
JonAcheson @ 8/19/2003 7:11:01 PM #
The Dana strikes me as being far more useful for doing email from remote locations (i.e. by satellite or in underdeveloped countries) than a laptop. Better battery life, more rugged, and enough processing power and display.

"All opinions posted are my own, and not those of my employers, who are appalled."
RE: ultimate netdevice if...
Edward Green @ 8/19/2003 8:40:53 PM #
Cant wait to see an OS5 Dana running Netfront with a decent lunp of heap Ram. It would be great to take to festivals - i never want to leave laptops in the car or hunker them with me. This I could use with a 3G phone to email pics on an SD card, or edit HTML, or, or, >sigh<

Still waiting ...

Edward Green

RE: ultimate netdevice if...
Stingray @ 8/19/2003 10:50:03 PM #
well my government bought a few thousand psion netbooks for the purpose of letting schoolkids surf the net wirelessly and use ebooks in school. that was like the ultimate "notebook-pda"
And it was darn rugged too. And the battery life was good .If it was running palmos it would have been tha bomb.

"May the potato be with you!"
RE: ultimate netdevice if...
simond @ 8/20/2003 5:32:39 AM #
I know, I have one of those ex-school psion netbooks, very nice when it comes to using it with wifi and colour 640x480 screen with long battery life :)

It's extremely cool, but...

Strider_mt2k @ 8/20/2003 8:04:34 AM #
As an experienced user, I can appreciate all of the fine technical attributes of this machine. We all can.
It's an incredibly cool tool which is somehow going unsung if you ask me.

But the greyscale display is lagging behind technology-wise. If they simply switched that dispay over to an adjustable backlit color TFT active matrix, the Dana wouldn't just pop, it would sizzle! In the sun, the backlight can be turned off completely.

The body could be adjusted for a slightly different battery configuration, but it keeps everything that makes it killer, and makes it so a guy like me will want to buy one.

Just my .02

but... you've missed the point
HandAble @ 8/20/2003 11:27:28 PM #
It would pop.. and pop up the price. The Dana is aimed at the $300-500 price point because that's the pain threshhold for the K-12 market. You are not their targeted purchaser, school districts are.

RE: It's extremely cool, but...
Strider_mt2k @ 8/21/2003 9:30:20 AM #
That's fine for those kinds of sales.

I'm suggesting something that would sell ouside of that market. Not a replacement perhaps, but an alternative.

RE: It's extremely cool, but...
HandAble @ 8/22/2003 12:04:05 AM #
Very true.. I've got one of these sitting here in my office and if were a journalist instead of a developer, I'd dump my laptop in a heartbeat for it... pop in those features you mentioned and price it around $600? Nirvana. :)

And where is the DB-9 serial port??

RhinoSteve @ 8/22/2003 6:42:27 AM #
This is the biggest shortcomming of the Dana. I bet there is a prototype Dana in an engineering office somewhere with a DB-9 serial port on it. Unlike other palm devices, there is enough space for this.

While the "serial port is dead" mantra is echoing all over the PC world, there are still a bunch of legacy equipment out there -- like donated equipment to schools!

I'm sure at least a dozen or so calls comes in to the AlphaSmart folks each week from a science teacher bitching to have some old piece serial drive piece of lab equipment donated to the school and he can't make it connect to a Dana.

Hell, if they didn't get cheap on the extra fifty cents to get that part in, you could have turned it into a wonderful VT100 terminal platform.

And to conclude, there is a Dana product manager in Los Gatos screaming "I don't want to hear it!!" for the 100th time by now for making that ill fated decision to not put the DB-9 serial port on the unit.

RE: And where is the DB-9 serial port??
Strider_mt2k @ 8/23/2003 9:09:38 AM #
It has USB capability.
It might be a simple matter of drivers for it to support a USB to serial converter.



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