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Low cost text input devices

One of my bad habits is scouring eBay for older technology that has become cheap but remains useful (or interesting). This Alphasmart 3000 word processor cost me $7.85 on eBay, plus $8.05 shipping.

It’s a simple device. You type, and it stores the text. To retrieve the text, you plug the Alphasmart 3000 into your computer’s USB port. The computer thinks it’s just a keyboard. Press the “SEND” key on the Alphasmart, and the computer thinks that a fast typist is keying text into your word processing program or whatever program is open and receiving keyboard input at the time.

The Alphasmart can hold eight separate files and up to 120 pages of text (though I’m not sure what their definition of a page is). It has rudimentary editing capability, and a spell-checker. There are later versions of the Alphasmart, also available on eBay for somewhat more money. They have bigger text buffers and a somewhat larger LCD screen. And of course you can still buy them new.

Need to type something in bed, or sitting at the picnic table? It works, and the keyboard is much nicer than any confounded laptop I’ve ever seen. Not to mention that it’s much cheaper and less fragile. I think the biggest market for these devices is in schools, so they’re made to take the sort of beating that fifth-graders can give. Its design clearly was inspired by Apple’s clamshell Newton from the 1990s.

One Comment

  1. Quetal wrote:

    Pretty cool, I just reviewed the Dana too.

    Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 1:34 am | Permalink

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