Saturday, June 11, 2011
Preaching the Gospel of Neo
Gospel means 'Good News,' and the Neo is good news for busy writers.
The Neo is put out by Alphasmart. It's a word processor that has a regular-sized keyboard and a monochromatic screen that will hold four lines of text. It weighs less than 2 pounds and is extremely rugged. As soon as I got mine, I bought a purse it will fit in so I can carry it with me. I've used it on car trips, in doctor's offices, at jazz festivals, sitting in the car outside of Hardware Sales (a marvelous hardware store in Bellingham, WA that my husband loves to frequent), at the beach, and while babysitting.
To me, the Alphasmart has 4 strong points.
First is battery life. Alphasmart says you can get 700 (that's 2 zeroes) hours on 3 double A batteries. I've had my Neo for about 3 years, and I'm still running on the original batteries I put in. A battery indicator comes up when I turn it on, and it shows I've used about 1/20 of the battery life.
Second is carefree-ness. I don't have to worry about cords or a case or dropping it or anything I might worry about if I had my laptop. I don't even have to worry about whether I use it or not. It's light enough that if I take it and don't use it, I haven't wasted a lot of effort for nothing. However, if I have a thought hit and I've got my Neo with me, I can easily grab it and get the thought down. The older I get, the more valuable that becomes, because thoughts don't stay too long any more.
Third is that my Neo interfaces with my computer. If I write a blog post on my Neo, I simply open a new document on my blog, connect the cable, hit 'send,' and what I've written scrolls out on my computer. Same with a word document or an email.
Fourth is that it doesn't hook up to the internet. Some may see that as a minus, but for me, it's great not to have the temptation to check my email.
I don't do much editing on the Neo. That's better done on my computer. But for composing, it's great.
The Neo has 8 files, each with its own button. Hit the button for File 1 and File 1 comes up. Hit File 2 and File 1 closes and File 2 appears. You can't get much simpler than that. Clearing the file is just as simple. Hit 'clear file' and then answer yes when it asks you if you really want to do this. The text disappears.
Each of the files holds 25 pages of text, so you have the capability of writing 200 pages of text before you have to transfer to your computer.
The Neo won't replace a computer, but it's a great, modest-priced add-on, allowing a writer greater flexibility about where and when she can write.
If you want to find out more about the Neo, go to www.renlearn.com/neo . Renaissance Learning donated a Neo as a door prize for the Storymakers Conference (see previous post). Looking around the room, I could tell the Neo owners among the writers present. They were excited for the prospect of someone winning this marvelous tool.
The winner was Peggy Grimes. Lucky gal.