新玩具:AlphaSmart 3000 键盘

Hello, world, again.

This is a small article I typed with the AlphaSmart 3000. What term I should use to describe this machine? It looks like a full-size keyboard. But it comes with a four-line black & white LCD screen on top. On the top right of the machine, there’s a USB port labeled “Computer”. On the top left, there’s a PS/2 port with a “Printer” label. The machine could be powered by three size AA batteries. People say these batteries can last one full year. It does have the third port on the right side, a standard DC power supply. All the features here make me believe this machine is a poor man’s personal computer, or anyone’s electronic typewriter.

When you connect this machine with your Mac or PC. This machine will be identified as a standard “Keyboard”. You can type to your computer with this gadget. Look at the layout carefully. You will find it is almost identical to your Mac. It even has the famous Command key which could be found on every Macintosh.

AlphaSmart 3000
AlphaSmart 3000

So it is a computer, a typewriter, and a keyboard.

I believe I’m not buying yet another junk. This weird little gadget will be my new typing machine, aka typewriter. It is cheap. I bought it for less than CNY 200, or USD 35. It is portable. Not significantly bigger than a bluetooth keyboard. It is durable. Three AA batteries last one year, as I just mentioned above.

I’ve been searching for a perfect typing machine for a long time. Last August I tried Hanx Writer.app on my iPad mini. It is a brilliant app. I really enjoyed playing with it. The problem is, I can’t play unless I connected the bluetooth keyboard and iPad properly. This action sounds easy, right? But it is not. You have to ensure both gadgets are fully charged. Then you have to find a desk to make sure you can see both the keyboard and iPad clearly. The Hanx Writer app once disabled a small feature to hide the onscreen keyboard which make the visible space 50% less. (They brought it back later.)

All these little things are small obstacles which could be ignored. But the biggest problem is the iPad itself.

iPad is a powerful tablet. It comes with internet. I’ve been distracted too many times with this internet thing. When I typed with Hanx Writer app, it sent me push notifications when an email came, me mentioned on twitter, a new iMessage text received (most of them are spam then). These notifications were dragging me from writing. However, I really wanted to check these updates. I’m a human in the era of internet after all.

There are countless people shared the same thought. No wonder why two good gentlemen from Detroit wanted to make a single purpose writing machine called Hemingwrite. It was later rebranded as Freewrite.

Their machine is much like the AlphaSmart. Both machines come with a small display, a full-size keyboard, some internal memory enough to save your articles. But Freewrite (aka Hemingwrite) is designed in 2014. It is technically more advanced than my AlphaSmart 3000, which was introduced in 2000. The Freewrite have an E-Ink display, and built-in Wi-Fi (Ah, the ubiquitous internet). The bad part is their pricing and production. Freewrite is a $500 gadget. What’s worse, there’s no fixed delivery date announced.

Then I thought. Why not just buy an AlphaSmart?

This machine is really cheap. And you can find one on Amazon, eBay and Taobao. I don’t care about the difference between the fancy E-Ink and old-fashioned dotted LCD. I don’t need Wi-Fi either. I can’t afford 500 dollars on a single purpose machine. AlphaSmart is my next typing machine.

But I know the key point is myself. If I do want to write, I can always find a way to note it down. By the way, I used to make meeting minutes with my BlackBerry phone. The AlphaSmart will stay around in my bedroom. I will try to use it more. Maybe I should start a diary project? Haha.

Anyway, this small article is a test. I will put it on my blog. I hope this piece can help you know more about my new typing machine 😀

– Typed with AlphaSmart 3000

“新玩具:AlphaSmart 3000 键盘”的6个回复

    1. 哈哈,这就是问题啊,检查 Typo 不太容易。它自己倒是带了一个 spell check,但只是检查单词而已。而且 Google 这种词也认为是拼写错误……

  1. 居然真有这样的机器存在……

    我之前自己就动过类似脑筋,想要个简单点的打字机,最开始还想撸个实体的打字机呢,然后看了下发现一个问题,这类机器换行麻烦,也有自动换行的高级机器,但一张纸完了需要换纸是真的。还有墨带。虽然有淘宝,但保不住哪天这些东西就没了……

    然后还有个要命的问题是,我需要写的东西,最后毕竟还是要发到网上的(Ah, the ubiquitous internet.),我买这类打字机也许打的时候很爽,最后还得上电脑手动刷一遍,多麻烦啊。对,OCR技术已经很成熟了不用费我那么多时间,但还是多出一个步骤,多麻烦呢。

    更更要命的问题是,尽管偶尔我也会写点英文的东西,但绝大多数时候还是在中文环境下写点长的东西。写这段评论之前我还去查了下网上卖AlphaSmart的店家,店家机智的告诉我们,可以先输入拼音字母的草稿,然后插上电脑,把这些拼音捣鼓到电脑里,然后用个软件转换成中文,再手动修改下……我在描述这个过程的时候都觉得蛋疼,更不想亲自去体验。

    而且博主介绍的机器仔细查看后,觉得就算是英文写作,那么小的屏幕,看着还是有点别扭……对应搜了下Hemingwrite,发现可以像八十年代的录音机一样提在手上,屏幕也大了不少,就是真贵……要是系统能刷出汉字字库,然后Android系统让我自己装中文输入法,那倒也不错。但这样算算,其实在世面上已经有的电子元件和半成品里,其实已经差不多能拼凑出来这样的东西了。

    而事实上,目前看来最廉价最好使的适合我的方法其实是拿一台旧的ThinkPad装个系统,默认用个舒服点的编辑器,装个顺手的输入法,其实可能是最合适的了,而且淘宝上老电脑便宜,X架构的键盘手感也蛮赞,打字挺舒服,还能写完了通过WiFi发出去……

  2. @f
    我这篇东西实际上并不是完整的评测,只是试用这部机器的副产品。完整的评测还没有写完,最近工作比较忙需要多一些时间。

    AlphaSmart 还有一个更高档的机器叫做 Dana,用的是 Palm OS 操作系统,这意味着应该可以使用之前 Palm OS 上的 CJK 系统以及拼音输入法(梅花或者巨硬)。但既然使用了 Palm OS,我默认它的电源是撑不了太长时间的,毕竟三节五号电池能用一年这件事情对我来说更有意义。因此我并没有下单买 Dana 而是选择了更简单的 3000。

    如果你觉得屏幕小,可以去看看它的后续产品 Neo 和 Neo 2,屏幕比 3000 要多两行 😀 但按照我的经验来看,四行显示对于英文写作来说差不多够了,我看不出有什么太大的问题,您所看到的这篇文章正是在四行屏幕的状态下写完的。由于是测试目的,所以我并没有在动手之前做 outline,事实上我第二天写的 Ingress 文章(尚未发布)就把文章结构先写了进去,然后一段一段地补充。因此,我觉得四行屏幕用来写东西够了。

    但编辑和校对就捉襟见肘了,我把文章导出来之后还会在电脑上过一遍,顺手做个拼写检查。

  3. 我的移动办公解决方案比这个还简单,带一只iPhone,再带一个与iPad2相配的罗技无线键盘Ultrathin Keyboard Cover(model: Y-R0032)。注意不要用为iPad Mini匹配的Cover,这个太小,打字手感极其不舒服。两者一配对,就可以迅速打字了。罗技充电一次,用的时间至少是2周,完全可以满足外出办公,咖啡馆写作的需要。

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