Originally created 08/30/98

What's hot: New items of interest



I was a big fan of the original AlphaSmart Pro portable word processor for its combination of long battery life, quiet keyboarding and ability to upload text to almost any desktop PC.

The new Alpha-Smart 2000 ($249) has a number of new features including a classy new look, auto power off, extended battery life, a spell checker and direct printing to a number of printers. And when was the last time you had a computer with operating instructions that fit comfortably on a small sheet of paper?

With the AlphaSmart, you can type up to 64 pages of text. File management and navigation are handled by eight function keys, "Home," "End" and arrow keys. Uploading text is a breeze: Open a word processing document on your desktop PC or Mac, unplug your keyboard, plug the cable into the Alpha and hit the send key. Dirt simple.

While the Alpha Pro made the best of its limitations, the 2000 seems to stumble over some of its improvements. Auto power-off can occur while you're still using the machine if it's been idle for a while. Of course, an auto-save function rules out any data loss, but you have to wait a few seconds while it powers up again. And, while the spell checker is a nice addition, the 2000 still does not have cut and paste, making it a pain to edit. The most annoying problem is the noise level -- the 2000 is louder than its predecessor -- a distraction if you're taking notes during meetings.

Still, for the price, the Alpha-Smart 2000 is a cheap, easy and lightweight way of doing text-intensive work that would be impossible on a palmtop.

Information: (408) 252-9400 or www.alphasmart.com

  • Who can forget the fun of 3D films and comic books? Chromatek has brought this fun to the Web with its CyberHolograms and HoloPlay 3D glasses. The beauty of CyberHolograms is that they don't use the funky blue and red overlapping images of conventional 3D.
  • Using something called ChromaDepth technology (which puts micro-optics onto the lenses of the glasses), the process of creating images (and 3D animations) can be done by anyone with a graphics program and the primer booklet that comes with the CyberHolograms Deluxe Internet Kit ($6.95). Besides the primer, you get one pair of plastic HoloPlay glasses, one pair of cardboard HoloPlay glasses, and one pair of cardboard C3D glasses (optimized for viewing print versions of 3D images).

    Another advantage to CyberHolograms is that the images don't appear fuzzy or altered and can be viewed without the benefit of the glasses. CyberHolograms are being used on entertainment Web sites and sites that display scientific visualizations. The same ChromaDepth technology has also been used on TV shows and in various toys and games.

    Information: (770) 772-9852 or www.chromatek.com