What is an Alphasmart NEO? Well, here’s a picture:
But what IS it? An Alphasmart NEO is basically a modern day typewriting without the paper. Here are some facts:
No internet connection.
Body: slim but sturdy (if you knocked it off a table, it’ll be fine).
Connects to computer using USB cable.
8 files which have the capability of holding up to 10,000 words = 80,000 word-novel before you need to worry about transferring anything to the computer.
Saves IMMEDIATELY as soon as you type something—anything.
QUICK on/off (press of a single button).
Can print directly from NEO via USB cable.
Run on AA batteries.
Battery life: 700 hours.
Reasonably priced (can be found for less than $100 on eBay).
No backlight to the screen (meaning you can’t write in the dark).
No mouse or touchpad. You use the arrow and certain specialized keys to maneuver around the file. It takes some getting used to, but then it becomes second nature.
No longer manufactured but can be found on second-hand sites such as eBay, etc.
People WILL honestly ask you what the NEO is! But this also gives you a perfect opportunity to promote your story because people are like, “What is that?”
“Oh, it’s an Alphasmart NEO. I’m writing my story on it.”
“You’re a writer??”
“Wow! I’ve never met a real life author before! What’s your book about?”
It also acts as an extended keyboard should anything happen to the keyboard on your computer. Connect the NEO via USB, and you have typing functions once more! One time when I was in the middle of a semester in university, the spacebar on my laptop died. However, I had my NEO, so I connected it to my computer, typed up the report, and then printed it out in time for class. That was a huge relief.
So there you have it–a basic understanding of the Alphasmart NEO.
Now, there are two versions of the NEO (NEO and NEO 2). I’ve had both, and the only difference I could tell was the NEO 2 is black whereas the NEO is more of a darker olive color. The NEO has a sister called the Alphasmart DANA. This has more than just typing capabilities and has different programs and can connect to the internet. The catch? Less battery life. Because the DANA has a backlight for the screen, its battery only lasts 20-24 hours compared to NEO’s 700 hours.
Since the Alphasmarts are no longer being manufactured, there is a new tool being developed called the Hemingwrite. I don’t know much about them other than the appearance and their starting price, which is over $300. I don’t know anything of its battery life or capabilities, but here’s a picture of it beside an Alphasmart DANA, but you can find out more about the Hemingwrite here: Hemingwrite FAQ.
(The Alphasmart DANA on the left. Hemingwrite on the right)
Personally, I like the Alphasmart better because it has proven itself irreplaceable to me. I’ve taken it on all my trips (because it’s easier to pull out the NEO and begin writing than to pull out a laptop, turn it on, and wait for it to load up). Whenever I feel like getting away from my computer without being tied to a power cord, I take my NEO.
To put it simply, if you want to write without distraction or if you like to travel and don’t want to damage your laptop in any way, the Alphasmart NEO will be your best friend. You can find it for less than $100 on eBay here: Alphasmart NEO on eBay. Now, if you do buy it on eBay, be aware that some sellers may not include the USB cable needed to transfer your work from NEO to computer, but don’t worry. A normal printer USB cable will do. It will look like this:
Now, say you have the NEO and the proper cable, and you have writing you want to transfer over to your computer. Do the following steps:
- Turn on your NEO and make sure you’ve selected the file you want to transfer over.
- Plug the cable into the NEO and the computer.
- Open the document on your computer where you would like the writing to be placed. If you’re adding on to a story, scroll to the bottom of the document where there is no writing.
- Press SEND on the NEO, sit back, and watch the words quickly scroll across the document on the computer as if writing themselves. Go, get some coffee while you wait for it to finish
Now, I’m sure there’s another way to do it, but I’m not that techie. This is the way I’ve figured out that isn’t too complicated, and I like simple.
No, I’m not a salesperson, but I’ve been asked about the Alphasmart NEO enough times that I decided to create a blog post specifically about it because its easier to share a blog post link than to type up my knowledge of the NEO each time the question comes up.
If you get a NEO, I hope you the best with your writing adventures! It is a wonderful writing tool.