The Palm Store is now offering the AlphaSmart Dana. This unusual device seems to fall between a handheld and a laptop. However, it does use Palm OS 4.1 and can run almost all Palm OS applications, plus ones especially written for its unusual screen.
Probably the most obvious thing about the Dana is it has a nearly full-sized keyboard. However, users can also enter text through Graffiti. The virtual Graffiti area can be put on either the left or right side, based on user preference.
It has a 560 by 160 pixel backlit monochrome screen. 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 ship with the Dana and can use its full screen include AlphaWord, a word processor with spell-checker and thesaurus, and PrintBoy from Bachmann Software, which allows the device to print from AlphaWord to IR or USB printers. It also comes with a version of Palm Reader for reading eBooks, and Quickoffice from Cutting Edge Software.
The Dana has 8 MB of Memory and two SD/MMC slots. It has a USB port to allow it to print and be connected to desktop PCs. However, USB peripherals can’t be hooked up to it, like keyboards. It also includes an infrared port.
It comes with a rechargeable battery pack but can also use three AAA batteries or an included AC adapter.
Obviously, the the Dana is it is larger than a handheld. It is 12.4 by 9.3 by 1.9 inches and weighs 2 pounds. It has been designed to be rugged and is made of polycarbonate ABS, which is what construction workers’ hardhats are made of.
The Dana is available now through the Palm Store for $400. It will also be marketed directly to schools as an inexpensive laptop alternative for students.