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.
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