1.31.2013

Do you need a Neo?




This last year I discovered a gadget that has been one of the best purchases I’ve ever made…and you might want one, too, when you hear how terrific it is!

It’s called a Neo by Alphasmart. It’s a portable word-processor that was originally designed for use in schools, and still are used that way. Because they were made for kid-use, they offer some outstanding features:
  • Extremely durable. You can throw them in a backpack, take them with you anywhere.
  • Instant-on.
  • Constantly saves your work so there’s never any need to save or backup.
  • Resumes right where you left off when you last turned it off (you can set it to have a key lock so you won’t inadvertently bump it and turn it on).
  • Has eight files that can hold up to 25 pages of writing each.
  • Has a built-in thesaurus, word count, find/replace function, font-size adjustment, and spell-check.
  • There’s a handy reference list on the back with commands and shortcuts you need for writing and editing. You can search the internet and download the user manual.
  • You can print directly from the Neo.
  • Runs on four AA batteries that last literally for years.
  • Auto-shut-off after a couple of minutes.
  • Uploading files is a breeze—you just use a USB cable to connect to your computer, open up any word processing environment (even a blog post window), and press “Send.”  Voila, your file loads, ready to work on.  You can then clear your Neo file with a “clear file” button. (Hint: don’t open any other window during uploading where you can add typed information—it’ll switch and start transferring it to there!)
  • Never gets hot like a computer so you can just work with it on your lap.
  • Here’s a fantastic benefit—no internet!  No distractions!  Just a pure, simple writing tool to capture your thoughts. 
  • I thought I wouldn’t like the small 6-line screen, but I find it actually a benefit to focused writing. You can adjust how many lines of type you want to see.
  • I love the keyboard touch.
  • They don’t need a case to protect them, though you can purchase one. I just got an oversized, padded purse from a thrift store and it works great.  Mine also fits handily in my canvas briefcase.
  • And one more—cost. You can get these used on Ebay or Amazon for as low as $35.  People buy them in lots when schools are upgrading and then resell them.  We each got one from Ebay and they seemed new, in perfect condition. (Hint: try to get one that has the USB cable included—though they don’t always list them that way.)

There are a few earlier versions of the Neo available (ex: the Dana), but the only one I would recommend is the Alphasmart 3000, which are usually a bit cheaper. These have a keyboard that is good for those who require a more defined touch.  We got an Alphasmart 3000 for my aunt after she had a stroke, and it has been excellent for her hand therapy and fine motor exercises.

There is also a newer, more expensive version of the Neo, the Neo2, which you can purchase directly online here.  (Note: the Neo2 is the only one that is currently being produced if you want a new one.)

Neos and Alphasmarts are popular among the writing community.  I first learned about them from a writer whose glowing recommendation convinced me I couldn’t live without one. Participants in the annual NaNoWriMo writing challenge rave about way Neos help them meet their daily writing goals.  I did the NaNoWriMo challenge this last fall and worked on my files with my Neo while travelling.  Be prepared for a lot of questions—people are fascinated with this new gizmo!

So how do we use them?  Let me count the ways…
  • I take my Neo with me everywhere.  As I write this post, I’m whacking it out while we drive to an out-of-town appointment.  I keep it beside me in my devotional time, capturing thoughts, writing prayers, or working on Bible study notes. When a blog post idea hits me, I can quick get it down before I forget it. It’s wonderful for journaling. I use it as a planner, list-maker, project & idea brain-stormer, letter writer…you get the idea.
  • It’s fantastic for school!  SweetPea, computer lover that she is, often prefers her Neo for roughing out a writing assignment. No distractions.
  • My honey uses it for Bible study notes when he’s preparing a message for the jail ministry he’s involved in. The immediacy and ease-of-use makes it the perfect study tool.
  • Take them camping or on vacation…on airplanes…to the library…to conferences…taking notes from TV or DVD programs…anywhere you’ve got a bit of extra time and two hands free!
So…have I convinced you yet?  I’d recommend doing an online search by product name and you’ll get a lot of information.  Also, the user reviews on Amazon are helpful.  And here’s a thought—these make wonderful gifts!

Happy writing!


5 comments:

  1. Sounds like an interesting machine. Reminds me of the original word processors before computers came on the scene. (I'm showing my age now). :)

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    1. Yes, JoAnn...not all 'old' things are bad, huh? :-)

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  2. Wendy, It's Gin from Doe Hill--your pal from long ago HSB days. Sorry it took me so long to get over here, but I am really enjoying your blog. (Now following you on GFC, too!)

    This gadget is going on the to-buy list--for me. I confess that I am a bit of a dinosaur in that I prefer the sensation of actually pressing keys to type as opposed to touch screens.

    It's great to connect with you again! in HIM, Gin

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    1. Hi, Gin! So nice to be reconnected! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I'm delighted to be in touch again.

      Yes, hope the Neo works for you--I love mine and have found it to be a great help rather than a hindrance of "one more gadget."

      Blessings!
      Wendy

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  3. Huh, I didn't now I needed one, esp. since I've never heard of it before, but I'll have to give it some serious thought. Perhaps I do NEED one. I could see it being useful for taking notes at Ladies Bible Study-- I'm always taking notes of one kind or the other and I don't esp. like my handwriting -- it's much faster to type something out. Yep, I think I need to look into this. Thanks Wendy!

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your taking time to comment. God bless!