AlphaSmart Neo

alphasmart

I am upping my writing game by rewinding back to the aughts! I bought myself an AlphaSmart. I got it used for cheap online. These devices are dummy word processing tools that have no internet and limited functionality. The screen is tiny so you cannot self-edit while you type. It does have a built-in thesaurus which is cool. It runs on regular AA batteries which last years. It cannot do anything but let you type away with no distractions. It can hold something like 200 pages – more than I can type in one sitting. When you are done with whatever you are working on, you plug the device into your laptop via usb and spit what you’ve typed into your Scrivener project.

The dummy keyboards were designed to be used in schools to teach typing. The company has long discontinued the tool but so many of them were floating around that they are easy to find online for cheap. They are also fairly light and indestructible. Their use has garnered a cult following with writers and journalists for the ability to write with no distractions from email or social media. I’ve been playing with it all day and it does have a certain early, simple and focused technology feel. Dare I say, charm? Like an old flip phone, or palm pilot.

It of course didn’t come with an instruction manual, so I had to research how to get it humming. Here are some handy commands that are good to know!

CTRL> T = Thesaurus
CTRL> W = Word count
CTRL> S = Save file
CTRL> O = Open file
CTRL> D = Delete file
CTRL> H = Help
CTRL> ALT OPTION> CMD> F = Change font size
CTRL> CMD> B = Check battery
ALT OPTION> CMD> S = Change send speed
Applets> Control Panel> Enter> Two Button On Option