The AlphaSmart Dana is a Palm OS device that falls somewhere between a handheld and a laptop. AlphaSmart has announced that the next generation of the Dana will include built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking.
The Dana Wireless will be quite similar to the original version. Like its predecessor, it will include a nearly full-sized keyboard like a laptop. However, it will also include a touch screen and text can be entered with Graffiti. Its screen isn’t as large as that of most laptops but it is much larger than a regular handhelds: 560 by 160 pixels.
As it has integrated Wi-Fi (802.11b), it will be able to access email and the Internet wirelessly. It will come with the Dana Internet Solutions Pack, which includes the Dana browser, a POP3 email client, and a trial version of an instant messenging client. In addition, any third-party Internet app that can run under Palm OS 4.1 should work on the Dana, though they won’t be able to take advantage of the larger screen like the ones AlphaSmart provides.
Another improvement in the new model is its screen will now support 16 shades of grey. It will also have twice as much memory, jumping from 8 MB to 16 MB, and a slightly newer version of the operating system: Palm OS 4.1.2.
Most Palm OS apps will run in a window in the middle of the screen, plus quite a few applications come with the device that can use its entire screen. This includes versions of the Address Book, Date Book, To Do List, and Memo Pad. Of course, the Dana can HotSync with a desktop or laptop like any Palm OS device.
Other apps that will ship with the Dana Wireless and can use its full screen include AlphaWord, a word processor with spell-checker and thesaurus. It will also come with office productivity software, including a spreadsheet, and PrintBoy Premier from Bachmann Software, which allows the device to print from AlphaWord to printers that support IR, USB, or Wi-Fi.
The Dana Wireless has two SD/MMC slots that support SDIO. It has a USB port to allow it to print and be connected to desktop PCs. It also includes an infrared port.
AlphaSmart says the Dana Wireless will be cost $429 and be available in time for the back-to-school season. Customers will also have the option of purchasing Dana without wireless capabilities. The non-wireless version is available now for between $400 and $380.
“For more than ten years, AlphaSmart has been committed to providing affordable technologies for the classroom. Dana Wireless continues the AlphaSmart tradition of designing cutting edge and affordable technologies that support interactive learning in today?s classrooms,” said Manish Kothari, president and co-founder of AlphaSmart.