The AlphaSmart Dana is a Palm OS device that falls somewhere between a handheld and a laptop. AlphaSmart has announced an improved version that offers more memory, a better screen, and updated software.
The Dana runs the Palm OS 4.1 and most of the software written for it but it has a full-size keyboard and a 560-by-160 pixel screen. With this update, the screen now supports 16 shades of grey.
Another significant change the amount of memory has been doubled. The original version offered 8 MB of storage, while the new one has 16 MB.
Most Palm OS software 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 display. 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 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. The new version has more fonts and comes with PrintBoy Premier from Bachmann Software, which allows the device to print from AlphaWord to printers that support infrared and USB.
With this update, the Dana will include the Palm OS Input/Output library for SD, which allows it to use devices such as Bluetooth SD cards and many other SD peripherals. It will also have additional USB drivers, including support for several USB modems and select 802.11b Wireless Network adapters.
The majority of the new features (other than expanded memory) can be installed on previous Dana models using DanaUpdate 1.2, available from the company for $10.
Dana can be purchased directly from AlphaSmart for $379 plus shipping by calling 888-274-0680 or on the web at Dana Online Store. DanaUpdate 1.2 is available by calling AlphaSmart at 888-274-0680.
AlphaSmart annpounced in July that it is working on the Dana Wireless, a version that has built-in W-Fi. This will also include the improvements in the updated version of the regular Dana. The wireless version will cost $429 and is expected to be available soon.