AlphaSmart’s Dana, the ” first alternative laptop device running the Palm operating system ” is totally Mac compatible, Glenn Weyhausen, senior director of product marketing for AlphaSmart, told MacCentral today at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in San Antonio, TX.
“It can Hot Sync with a Macintosh as any Palm OS device can,” he said.
You can also print from the Dana via wireless printing (to an irDA-enabled printer) or directly from a USB connection thanks to the bundled PrintBoy software from BachmannSoftware. The device can run 25 hours on its rechargeable battery, Weyhausen said. It can also run 30 hours using three “off-the-shelf” double A batteries, he added. The Dana also offers “instant on” and “instant off.”
The “alternative laptop” sports a full-size, integrated keyboard and a touch screen that’s 7.5-inches wide and 2 1/4-inches high. There are two “viewing” modes: widescreen (for word processing and doing spreadsheets) and tallscreen (for taking notes clipboard style or using a traditional Palm OS orientation). Naturally, the Dana supports Palm’s Grafitti handwriting software.
Dana ships with AlpaWord, a full-featured word processor with a spell-checker and thesaurus. It’s compatible with both the Mac and Windows Word file format. An optional productivity package includes QuickOffice from Cutting Edge Software, which integrates with Microsoft Office.
The US$399 device will ship later this summer. Though it will be available to the general public, its primary audience is educators and students, Weyhausen said. It’s compatible with any Power Mac running Mac OS 8.5.1 or higher (including Mac OS X). You’ll need 15MB of hard disk space and 5MB of available RAM for the software installation. With the included USB cable, you can sync with your Mac without a cradle.
“AlphaSmart is focused on reducing the cost and complexity of computing for educators and students,” Manish Kothari, president of AlphaSmart, said. “The introduction of Dana helps further our goal of making it affordable and realistic to create a one-to-one ratio between students and computing devices that enhance learning.”
Made of polycarbonate ABS, it weighs in at about two pounds. Its LCD screen is backlit and offers 560 x 160 pixels (3.5 times wider than the typical handheld advice, according to the folks at AlphaSmart). It has two expansion slots for multimedia cards or secure digital cards.