Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

You want a tremendously useful writing tool? Find yourself an AlphaSmart ‘Neo’

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Some months ago, I wrote about the single most useful technological “wonder” (besides a pen or pencil) I have as a writer — my little AlphaSmart “Neo.”

(I had their earlier version, the “3000,” but I quickly sold it online when I got the improved version, the “Neo.”)

EDITOR’S UPDATE: Since writing this article, I have moved on to a bit more up-to-date technology: I now use a Lenovo Ideapad netbook for most of my “grab it up and run with it” mobile writing. Yes, I know, that netbooks are so “2007-ish” when it comes to cutting edge technology. Just can’t persuade myself to put that much trust in a smartphone or tablet. Yet. I still stand by my delight in the Neo, and I still urge you to look at one on eBay or elsewhere if you want a really nifty little writing tool that does perform as I’ve written here.

Here’s a picture of my little jewel of an AlhpaSmart Neo:

AlphaSmart Neo

You can find out all about AlphaSmart and their wonderful set of tools — they offer a fancier version of Neo called “Dana,” I think — with a quick look through your favorite search engine (maybe, uh, say, G**gle?), so I won’t take time to put a link here.

Neo, the model I currently own, is a simple, practically indestructible “portable keyboard” that really does just one thing and does that well: It makes it quick and easy for you to enter text. About that “practically indestructible” comment. I know a guy who takes his Neo everywhere and always gets the attention of other writers at conventions and seminars with it. He has been known to illustrate the durability of his by suddenly knocking it off a table top while explaining what it does. That’s a great attention getter — and so far he’s never had it even crack — but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Got a novel throbbing through your veins and crying to see the light of day (along with all your other mixed metaphors)? Grab your Neo, stick it in the briefcase/backpack, and take it with you. Spend time at your favorite coffee shop, library, or whatever, and WRITE.

One of the niftiest features of the Neo is its incredible battery life — lasts, they claim, around 700+ hours on a set of 3 AA battaries. Yup. That’s seven hundred and more, in case you find the numbers hard to believe. Match that with your laptop.

Once you’ve gotten your rough draft done (the Neo hold approximately 100 pages worth of text, with 8 files you can store them in), hook the little keyboard-that-can to your computer via a USB cord, and you can transfer the text into your computer’s wordprocessing software to format, edit, and have a ball.

I highly recommend this humble little tool. I’ve seen forum posts by regularly published writers who own them and couldn’t live without them. Take a look around the AlphaSmart site for yourself. I think you’ll love the little Neo as much as I do.

Oh, yeah, did I mention, you can generally find one or two of the 3000’s or Neos on sale at online auctions for a terrific price. (AND — if everything you try fails to find you an affordable 3000 or Neo — you can always come back here and buy one of the fine pens or other writing sets from the merchants I advertise here. It’s all right to do that. Really.)

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