AlphaSmart Unveils Dana, First Palm OS Based Laptop Alternative for Education

AlphaSmart Unveils Dana, First Palm OS Based Laptop Alternative for Education


AlphaSmart, Inc., a leading provider of technology solutions for education, today unveiled Dana, a portable computing solution for education that is an affordable alternative to a laptop. Powered by Palm OS®, Dana features a full-size, integrated keyboard and a touch screen that is approximately 7-1/2 inches wide and 2-1/4 inches high. The rugged, lightweight device, with long battery life, can be used by students in the classroom, around campus, on field trips or at home for writing and reading assignments, quizzes and note taking.

Dana devices can be provided to an entire classroom of students for a fraction of the price of personal computers or laptops. “AlphaSmart is focused on reducing the cost and complexity of computing for educators and students,” said Manish Kothari, president of AlphaSmart. “Introduction of Dana helps further our goal of making it affordable and realistic to create a one-to-one ratio between students and computing devices that enhance learning.”

AlphaSmart already has shipped nearly one million simple, easy-to-use educational devices that let students focus on their coursework and let teachers focus on teaching. Dana combines the advantages of AlphaSmart’s current products with the powerful capabilities and wealth of applications available for the Palm OS platform.

“The introduction of AlphaSmart’s Dana shows the potential for innovation with Palm OS,” said David Nagel, chief executive officer of PalmSource, Inc. “The versatility of Palm OS, combined with AlphaSmart’s education expertise, has enabled this breakthrough product that meets specific needs of the education market.”

“Palm is deeply committed to education, believing that Palm OS provides a great platform for the needs of both educators and students,” said Mike Lorion, vice president of education at Palm, Inc. “Palm is enthusiastic about AlphaSmart’s Dana because it strengthens the role of the Palm OS platform in education by providing new choices for educators and students and by expanding the opportunity for developers of Palm OS applications for education.”

Dana is designed with a high degree of flexibility. Students can use either input method í keyboard or stylus í interchangeably. Settings can be changed easily to accommodate students’ individuality, such as whether they are left-handed or right-handed, whether they prefer a QWERTY or DVORAK keyboard layout, or which fonts and font sizes they wish to use for applications. In addition, the screen image can be rotated ninety degrees in either direction, allowing applications and content to be viewed vertically or horizontally. Dana also allows students to print their work directly to a USB or an IrDA-enabled printer, synchronize information with a parent’s or teacher’s PC or Macintosh computer with just a standard USB cable, or beam information to and from other IR-enabled devices. Finally, students can use Dana with a rechargeable battery, AA batteries or with an AC power adapter.

Dana supports the standard Palm OS personal-information applications as well as the thousands of commercially available Palm OS applications from third parties, many of which are relevant for K-12 education. In addition, Dana supports applications tailored specifically for the device, including:

• AlphaWord writing software (a full-featured word processor with font support, formatting, spell-checker and thesaurus)
• AlphaSmart Admin, software that lets a teacher control the functions of a student’s Dana device
• powerOne Graph graphing calculator from Infinity Softworks
• ThoughtManager for Education, outlining and organizational software from Hands High Software
• FontBucket font management software from Hands High Software
• Quickoffice software from Cutting Edge Software, which enables viewing and editing of Microsoft Excel and Word compatible files on Dana
• Palm Reader™, which allows students to read eBooks
• PrintBoy from Bachmann, which supports printing to IrDA and USB printers.
• ImagiMath and ImagiProbe from ImagiWorks, which provide scientific probes for data collection, graphing and analysis.
• CardPro, from HandEra, Inc., for managing SD Card and MultiMediaCard expansion card content


Dana weighs two pounds. It is twelve inches wide, nine inches deep and one inch high. Dana comes with eight megabytes of memory.

The Dana screen is an Advanced LCD screen with backlighting, 560 by 160 pixels in horizontal viewing mode and 160 by 560 in vertical viewing mode.

Dana comes with a rechargeable battery that provides extended use between charges, and also includes an AC adapter.


Dana has two expansion slots for adding memory or Secure Digital (SD) or MultiMediaCard peripherals.

Pricing, Configurations and Availability

Dana will be sold to individuals through the AlphaSmart Web site at, for U.S. $399, bundled with education and productivity software. With an education-specific software bundle, Dana will be sold to schools at an education discount, beginning at U.S. $369 in single-unit volume. Dana will be available to schools through AlphaSmart’s direct sales force.