The Alphasmart Neo was released at the end of 2004 to replace the ground-breaking Alphasmart 3000. The AS3000 was the first to give us ‘applets’ such as Co:Writer prediction software in a truly portable format. The Neo boasts a larger screen, a choice of fonts, longer battery life (a whole term on 3 x AA they claim), while still being light and small enough to fit in a school bag. Currently available for as little as £150 (£200 with Co:Writer installed).
These portable word processors have proved very useful for pupils who experience difficulty with writing. Coupled with the Co:Writer applet it’s especially useful for dyslexic pupils but is in use across the world supporting those with poor motor control, handwriting problems, and organisational difficulties.
The Co:Writer applet can make use of the famous Don Johnston Topic Dictionaries that are hugely supportive of project/subject specialist writing. It worked brilliantly with AS 3000 but the Neo version is a little ‘clunkier’ and slower. While most Alphasmarts are used directly by pupils many support staff scribe their students’ work to an Alphasmart rather than to paper. This enables the scribed text to be edited and even read back via text-to-speech word processors. Text entered into the Alphasmart can also be utilised when creating Topic Dictionaries for Co:Writer – two birds with one stone!!