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I contacted Renaissance Learning back in June 2011, thinking maybe I could get my hands on a Neo2 as a new writing device.
I just tracked down the email I’d sent:
I understand that you market these devices primarily for education.
However, I first heard about the products from one of my writing magazines (full-page, full-color advertisements in nearly every issue), and it is in that capacity that I am interested in purchasing one.
A bit of background, if you will.
If you would like to skip ahead, I have marked the heading for the “business” part of this email as *bold*.
I recently purchased a Dana, used on eBay for testing purposes, to see if I would like using the device.
I love it; it’s a great way, as others have put it, to write free from the distractions that a typical computer provides, and since I got it used on eBay, it was much cheaper than buying a brand-new Dana (or a Neo, for that matter).
However, the battery life concerns me, as does the fact that it was used.
The second because it comes with no warranty of any kind, and I have no idea how long it will last.
The first because it came with no cables, thus no way to charge the built in battery (which was promptly disposed of when I received it–no way to tell if it was any good), I do not relish changing the batteries every day (I set up my computer to use it as the main keyboard, so it’s on all the time ), and if I have to pay out for yet more accessories, I may as well buy a brand new machine.
Which brings me to my point.
*I would like to buy a Neo2*
The RenLearn site prices the device at $139, cheaper than the original Neo and considerably cheaper than a new Dana…which is why I’m looking at the Neo2 instead of the original.
The expected 200 page limit (over all combined files) on either model should be more than sufficient for draft writing; assuming a chapter per file, a file a day, that should be more than enough to write a NaNo even without backing up to my computer…though I plan on making regular backups, regardless.
And the 700 hour battery life is what really sells me.
I haven’t made up my mind whether I want to get rid of the Dana (which would mean taking advantage of the trade-in offer) or convince my nephew to start writing more.
Assuming I try the second, I need another way to buy a Neo.
But I cannot find a link on the AlphaSmart/NeoDirect site (which only lists the original Neo) or the RenLearn site (which doesn’t seem to list a means to purchase any model) to purchase one. I am not interested in trying to bid on eBay (“Buy it Now” or not at all, as far as I’m concerned), and I cannot find it available anywhere else.
P.S. Also, I do have one technical question.
Since I am interested in the capacity as a writer, not an educator or student–even though that 200 page limit is more than sufficient, is it possible to increase it?
Such as by eliminating the smart apps that I would have no use for?
And could that be done directly on the AlphaSmart, or would that require configuring via a computer?
And here was their reply later the same day:
Thank you for contacting NEO Direct. The NEO2 is available to the retail customer for the cost of $169. The NEO2 was designed with a classroom situation in mind. The added features that the NEO2 has to offer over the NEO are ones that the typical retail individual do not find beneficial. We require a school to purchase additional software and hardware to use the NEO2 to its full capabilities. We have had individual retail customers purchase the NEO2 with the understanding that there are going to be features on the device that they are not going to be able to use. We purposely removed the option to request a NEO2 purchase online on both of our web sites to assure our customers are matched with the proper device for their needs. If you would like to order a NEO2 or discuss it’s features further please contact one of our NEO Direct Retail Sales Reps.
The 200 pages capacity that we advertise has already taken the removal of unwanted Applets into consideration. You may be able to get up to approximately 225 with some additional hidden Applets, such as spellcheck, thesaurus. To do this requires the user to connect the NEO to a computer that has the NEO Manager program installed on it.
I hope you find this information useful. Please review the attached documents for additional information or contact us with any concerns.
Seems to me that their website (at the time I’d sent this back in June 2011) and the email were contradicting each other, regarding the price.
Nowhere on the site did it say that lower price was only for educators, and that’s the only reason I can come up with for the difference.
And wasn’t the old Neo supposed to have a 200 page capacity already? I don’t remember.
If it did, how is the Neo2 having a 200 page capacity “more memory?”
Speaking as a Computer Science major, if there’s more memory for other applications, there’s no reason why the average consumer shouldn’t be able to remove those apps to use that extra memory for writing.
- Writing Devices – AlphaSmart Neo (sidequestpublications.wordpress.com)
- Writing Devices – AlphaSmart Dana (sidequestpublications.wordpress.com)
- Writing Devices – Entourage Edge (sidequestpublications.wordpress.com)
- Writing Space of Author Jennifer McAndrews (teacherwriter.net)