eMate wins low-end writing battle


Greg Pak at Pakbuzz was a dedicated AlphaSmart Dana user. It’s portability, small form factor, and battery life made the Dana his go-to writing machine.

But then Pak grabbed a Newton eMate off eBay, for comparison’s sake, and has declared it the “greatest lo-tech writing machine on the planet!” The exclamation point means he’s serious.

In comparing the AlphaSmart Dana, AlphaSmart Neo (above), and the eMate, Pak found they had a lot of similarities:

Both the Dana and the eMate were designed with the educational market in mind. Both are solid state computers with no moving parts and incredibly sturdy plastic bodies. Both run on software originally designed for pocket organizers and feature a stylus rather than a mouse. Both have black and white screens with green backlights. Both use their own barebones but functional word processors that can export and import rtf files. Both turn on instantly and automatically save everything that you type. And both run for days on a full charge.

The difference is in the eMate’s syncing capabilities (thanks to the newest batch of Mac-to-Newton sync software), security, data safety, and geekiness.

The Dana and Neo win in terms of speed, weight, and long-term viability, since they’re still in production.

The fact that the AlphaSmart products both sync with USB out of the box make them attractive. Pak’s issues with document syncing seem like a killer, though. I love the ability to drop a NewtonWorks document onto my Mac desktop as a rich text document and be done with it.

Battery life on both AlphaSmart products, however, seems killer.

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