I actually reviewed the NEO some time ago. For those of you not familiar with this ‘gizmo’ it is a highly portable word processor that runs forever on 3 AAA batteries. It has a full sized keyboard, and a small screen that shows 6 lines of text,

This may not sound very elegant to you high rolling Vista users, but for the guy on the go, this is the cats meow!

As I said, I have already reviewed this item, but it is one thing doing a review in the comfort of your home, while it is an entirely different experience doing it in real life. Last week my wife and I, and yes were are perfectly certifiable, decided to take a 2,500 mile trip by Greyhound Bus. You are probably wondering why we would subject ourselves to such an endeavor, and my only answer is ‘because we can’. Sensible, we may not be, but we certainly are adventurous.

For four days the Neo was the only device I had. Battery life is absolutely amazing, the 3 AAA batteries just keep on ticking, the unit itself is light weight and durable, and you can trust me when I say I put it through hell. I had it squeezed into a bag with a dozen books, and various other paraphernalia, it got dropped, kicked, shoved under seats and overhead bins, mauled by customs, and abused by me. It came out in much better shape than either Jan or myself!

What really impressed me though was when we reached our destination in the heart of Mississippi (I am still trying to learn to spell it, thank goodness for the spellchecker on the NEO). Our main computers are currently on route, or more likely sitting in some customs shed at the border! Seeing as Jan and I make our living Online, being without computers was not an option. My solution was to bring a couple of ancient but lightweight laptops, Toshiba Portege 3110CT’s to be exact. With no CD ROM I had to get creative with an Operating System, I found a Linux Debian distribution that could be installed over the Internet. While not ideal by any stretch of the imagination (Check rant here) they were at least a partial band aid till the other junk arrives.

In my previous endeavors with the NEO I had only tried uploading files in the Windows world. I powered up one of the laptops, connected the USB cable, and guess what? The NEO worked flawlessly! My articles uploaded with no problems whatsoever. No fiddling around with drivers or software, you just press the send key and you are done!

In fact the NEO has now become my prime source for typing. I have a deep dislike for laptops, the keyboards are always way to squishy for my fat little fingers! The NEO on the other hand offers a full size and very well configured keyboard that has a really great positive feel to it.

Kudos to Alphasmart for making this little beast. It may not be ideal for everyone, and yes, the small display takes a little getting used to, but once you start using the little critter it works great. Another endearing feature in my mind is that Alphasmart have not tried to reinvent the wheel. The word processor has been designed to use the same set of keyboard shortcuts that MS Word uses. Ctrl a, Ctrl x, Ctrl v, etc. all do exactly what you would expect them to do. This was a real boon to me, as I set out on the trip without the user manual! There were a couple of keyboard shortcuts that I could not remember, but the built in Help system fixed that for me.

Great product, I can not recommend the NEO enough.

Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

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