The first one that I got and will start off with is the one that I am using to write up most of post, with only some final editing done on a computer. In fact, I have already posted my first impressions on this device, and promised a full review to come soon. Of course, I have been lazy with that, and working on other things. The device in question is the Alphasmart Dana. Anyone who hasn't seen the previous post should look back.
I would technically classify the Dana as a PDA since it runs Palm OS, but the form factor is more of a laptop so to speak. I guess not a modern one, but if anyone is familiar with something like the TRS80 Model 100 form Tandy, which was technically a notebook PC at the time, would be the best fit in my opinion. Of course, this device was not a very common one for sure, but they are well known for being used in schools.
Alphasmart was an interesting company for me. They made a simple word processor that could hook up as a keyboard to any PC or Mac, whether through PS/2, ADB, or USB, and then send the text as if it was being typed up. The other models were not the same as the Dana in the case that it could run Palm OS applications as well. The other models, such as the Neo, could hold 8 files, and switch between them, but there was no SD card slot or any other expandable memory options.
The reason I went with the Dana was for those very reasons. The Neo could get a LOT better battery life, but it would have only been useful for writing. I am using the Dana for writing, and generally things I want to type up, but since it runs Palm OS I could use different software. Plus, it has a lot bigger screen which is very nice for me. I also love the fact that it has 2 SD card slots.
The only flaw that I have found so far is that Alphaword, while an amazing program since it allows you to use 8 files at once and switch between them by pressing F1 through F8, only saves in a PDB file that only opens in Alphaword. This means that if I want to get the text from it onto my Surface Pro, I need to use the USB cable and hit send. Of course, I could use other software like CardTXT but this isn't a HUGE problem for me really.
They were designed for use in schools, so they are pretty rugged and can take a drop. The only downside to that is they look kind of strange. I would have loved to have seen one that was more like a traditional laptop, but I will take what I can get.