Art Kavanagh

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From Alphasmart Neo to Freewrite Traveler via the Palm Foleo

Nate Hoffelder sees the forthcoming Freewrite Traveler as the spiritual successor to the Alphasmart Neo. I’m sceptical, both because of the Traveler’s Freewrite pedigree and because of the resemblance to the Alphasmart. I bought a Neo and was immediately frustrated to discover that the keys were too obtrusively clacky to use in a library, where it would otherwise have been ideal for taking notes. The Neo was actually a beautiful keyboard: compact and easy to carry but with full-sized, properly spaced keys. Such a pity it was so bloody noisy.

In form, Hoffelder compares the Traveler to Palm’s ill-fated Foleo. I’d been all set to get a Foleo (even though I didn’t at that stage have a compatible phone) but it was cancelled prior to launch. So I used the money I’d earmarked for the Foleo to buy a first-generation iPod Touch instead.

I still like the idea of a lightweight portable keyboard which stores text and nothing else; but the execution always seems to leave too much to be desired. While it’s nice to be reminded of both the Alphasmart Neo and the sadly unrealized Foleo, I won’t be rushing out to get a Freewrite Traveler. It really seems like an idea whose time has (sadly) passed.