I was excited when I received the Dana as it combines two of my favourite pieces of technology, the AlphaSmart and Palm Pilot PDA.
With a full-size keyboard and a back-lit screen that displays nine lines of 12pt text or six lines at 24pt, the Dana is still highly portable, being A4 size and weighing the same as a decent dictionary and having a battery life of 25 hours.
The Dana runs AlphaWord word processing software which has the usual functions accessed with the stylus: editing and formatting text, a choice of six fonts and a spellcheck. You can print straight from the machine, connect to a computer and send text to an open application or transfer the files to PC or Mac with a "Hotsync" operation.
The spellchecker is more problematic. This offered no alternatives for "tahn", "tehn" or "ad", even after I had completed the simple task of installing a larger word list. Unfortunately I now had an American list that offered corrections for "favourite" and "colour". A UK version is shipping this month, but the word list installation is needless and to do it for a whole class would be a real pain. This should be done before delivery.
Another minor gripe - it has five games and two word processors but no Notepad for drawing on the screen with the stylus.
In all, the Dana is a useful piece of kit, but tailored to the classrooms rather than boardrooms it would fulfil its educational potential.
Portable Alphasmart computer with Palm OS (operating system).
Compatible with PC and Mac (OS 7.0-OS X), 8Mb memory with slots for additional cards.
Tel: 020 8492 3690
The review computer was supplied by TAG Learning: www.taglearning.com
Fitness for purpose ****
Ease of use ****
Value for money ****