At this week’s NECC educational conference in New Orleans, La., Dana maker
AlphaSmart Inc. introduced Neo, a new low-cost portable computer aimed at educational markets. The devices features an integrated all-in-one design featuring a built-in LCD screen and full-sized keyboard. AlphaSmart hopes to woo away educational administrators who are looking to institute one-to-one computing initiatives who might be considering iBooks and other laptops, with this new US$249 computing device.
As the successor to the AlphaSmart 3000, Neo sports a 50 percent larger screen and twice the memory, with a design that more closely resembles the Dana. It weighs about two pounds and features an IrDA (Infrared wireless) interface to exchange data with other devices. Unlike the Dana, however, Neo is not PalmOS-based. The device runs “SmartApplets,” software designed to operate on both the AlphaSmart 3000 and Neo, including word processors and other applications.
In conjunction with the introduction of Neo, AlphaSmart also rolled out new versions of its AlphaSmart Manager software, which enables educators to manage up to 30 AlphaSmart 3000, Neo or Dana devices simultaneously. The new 2.0 release helps teachers and administrators to install and configure new software applications, drop word processor files on classroom machines, assign passwords and modify device settings. The software will begin to ship with Neo and Dana “SmartOption Bundles” beginning this summer and fall respectively; updates for existing installations will be available starting this fall as well. AlphaSmart’s Web site was not updated with information about Neo as MacCentral posted this article.