Thursday, July 26, 2012

The New Kid

It's here! That was pretty much the reaction when I saw the big brown UPS truck pull up outside my house on Monday evening and drop off my new toy, this Neo2 (nee Alphasmart) which I'd traded in my old Pro model for. Rather kindly, the folks at Renaissance Learning threw in a sizable case free of charge, with various pockets and pen loops and things with which to tote the new gadget. To be perfectly honest, though, it's a bit of overkill, as this is an incredibly light, and relatively small device: much slimmer than the old Pro, and having the benefit of 25 years of technological development behind it in terms of a nicer LCD screen with proportional fonts, a very quiet and light touch, and the classic near-infinite battery life. It is as close to a portable typewriter replacement as you are likely to get these days.

I've already started redoing the novel that I dictated back in June, and although I'm not able to type as quickly as I can speak, I also can type far more reliably, and away from the main computer. I managed to knock a few paragraphs out last night in the bedroom, for example, far from the confusion of our kitchen after dinner. Already I'm pleased with the purchase.

My loyalties still lie with the Typewriter Brigade come November, of course, as I'm still hooked on marking up a physical written draft, and appreciate the permanence of a typed page compared to the nebulous nature of bytes, even those constructed on a device as reliable as this one. I did make one recent concession, though, and buckled down and bought a copy of Scrivener, after reading the countless accolades online from various amateur writers. Since I already do quite a bit of pre-organizing and am typing on paper, some of the tools meant to aid in drafting may not be as useful to me, but just going through the tutorial has shown me how I might use it to my advantage for rewrites. As nice as the Neo is for writing, it is still not a viable solution for large-scale edits -- nor was it meant to be -- and it's difficult to get a "big picture" view of my writing through a 5- or 6-line window of text.

Typed on a Neo2


Mike Speegle said... there anything half as motivational as a new toy?

Now get to writing, you.

Steve said...

For full-page markups you can print directly from the Neo to some printers. See:

It's not the same instant result as typewritten pages rolling out, but it could work for you.

In an unrelated tip: Using file 1 as a table of contents for the remaining 7 files can keep things under control.

Here's to the writing.

- Steve

Joe V said...

Welcome to the Neo club! I've had one for a few years and love using it, though it does compete with fountain pen, manual typewriter and iA Writer on the iPad for my writing.

In terms of being able to create my best writing, I find the Neo comes in second place to fountain pen with composition book. And typewriting for me is more like a final output, either for typecasting or letter writing, I don't compose as well on manual typers because my writing style employs constant short-term edits, often before the current sentences are even completed.


Richard P said...

I keep being very intrigued by these devices. I bought a cheap AlphaSmart on eBay, I forget which model, but didn't like the keyboard at all -- you had to hit the keys right in the middle or they would get stuck. I assuem this new model doesn't have that problem.

mpclemens said...

@Richard: the keyboard is vastly better than the previous one I owned. I know that many of the old models that wash up on eBay came from schools, and thus had pretty hard lives already, but I read (and this could just be rumor) that the keyboard for the Neo and Dana are made by Samsung. Whether or not that's true, the Neo's keyboard is very much like a modern laptop or computer keyboard: very shallow key travel requiring a light touch. Good when you're trying to type unobtrusively.

I'm still adding to my transcribed text. I still don't want to attempt any large-scale edits on-screen -- that's what the main computer and Scrivener is for -- but it's much, much easier to use than previous models.

deek said...

I have enjoyed my Dana. This looks pretty similar but probably better. My battery only lasts 40 hours, not the 700 i'm used to with my AS3000.

Randy said...

I've got one, but an AlphaSmart 3000. It's nice to have, but I rarely use it...and it does feel like I'm using a toy. The main benefit is that you can hook up a printer cable to the thing, open an empty text file on your computer, and hit SEND to see all your words transferred so you can edit them. It's fine, but I'm more old-school, I guess.