Dana Lightens Users Loads

Users are willing to try anything that will keep them computing while lightening the burdens in their briefcases, backpacks and pocketbooks.

From the new tablet PCS from Microsoft and its OEM gang to mobile phones endowed with J2ME and fold-out keyboards, users are willing to try anything that will keep them computing while lightening the burdens in their briefcases, backpacks and pocketbooks.

AlphaSmarts new mobile computing device, called Dana, presents one such solution. Dana runs Palm OS 4.1 and combines 8MB of RAM, two SD (Secure Digital) card slots, two USB ports and an IrDA port in a chassis designed around a large, comfortable keyboard. The result, which measures 1.9 inches tall, 12.4 inches wide and 9.3 inches deep and weighs 2 pounds, is the largest Palm OS device Ive ever seen—and the only one Id consider for an extended typing session.

The $399 Dana sports a 560-by-160-pixel touch-screen display and works with the sizable catalog of Palm OS software, most of which operates in a 160-by-160-pixel center portion of the display. However, Dana ships with a word processor called AlphaWord, which takes advantage of the whole screen, offers a good range of word processor functionality and maintains file compatibility with Microsoft Word.

Danas SD slots dont support SDIO for use with peripherals such as Palms Bluetooth SD card, but AlphaSmart officials told me that a free SDIO update will be available before the end of the year.

To find out more, go to alphasmart.com/products/dana_overview.html.