following is what I typed up (not on the AlphaSmart itself) as I
worked my way through the user manual.]
saw this gadget pop up on ebay and after a quick bit of research
I decided the asking price was a good deal. While the 3000 looks
quirky my research led me to Wikipedia where the AlphaSmart Pro
looks more appealing to me. The 3000 was released in the year
2000, the pro in 1995. Having said that, while the pictures of
my (soon to be) 3000 were a little on the dull side, as I
unpackaged it from its bubblewrap upon arrival I could see the
translucent nature of the plastic; the way it caught my eye, and
as I realised it was more 2000-esque in this manner than I had
at first realised, made me smile - I immediately liked it more.
Simple to Use:
Just turn it on and start typing, turn it off when you’re
finished - everything is automatically saved as you type. With
its built-in AlphaWord word processor, you can write stories,
make outlines, input data for spreadsheets, take notes and
more, and then easily transfer to any computer or print
directly to most printers with a single keystroke.
... Up to
100 pages of text, spell checker, cut/copy/paste... [further
on it states approx. 25 KB per page, so that equates to a
total approximate memory of 200 KB accessible to the user].
The AlphaSmart 3000 is lightweight (two pounds), portable (700
hours on 3 AA batteries).
feels somewhat heavy yet quite rugged while at the same time the
fit and finish of the plastic seems cheap. It is styled in an
old Mac translucent plastic that was popular in the 2000s, and
further to the Appleness, it has option and 'Command' keys.
As a side note, in the 2000s I transferred the innards of my PC
into a new case with matching keyboard, mouse and speakers that
were of this Apple-esque styling; again it was cheap. Thankfully
the keys have stood the test of time; the labels remain and all
function; my initial impression of them though is that it
doesn't inspire me to type on it; the keys are quite low profile
and with very little travel - I'll have to use it for a while to
see how I get on with it.] The four gel-domed rubber feet are
also still present.
It is awkward that the AlphaSmart 3000 requires an odd number of
batteries as my devices typically use four and I charge them as
such, meaning I will likely wear out three batteries charging
them... although at 700 hours (approx. 1 month [of typing?])
perhaps I'll be better off buying some non-rechargeables.
Originally a NiMH battery pack was an optional user install
(with instructions in the manual), and while this could charge
over USB, it held less power than three AAs. Powering (or
charging this battery) from an AC adapter is also an option but
that is awkward. Apparently you can keep using the device for up
to 8 hours after the low battery indicator (AA) is displayed,
which is reassuring (this is only 20 minutes with the Ni-MH
option). CTRL+Command+B will bring up the battery level - I'm
starting mine at 50%... let's see how this goes.
The manual initially implies that files will remain stored in
the device even without power/batteries, however, further
reading will reveal that there is a CR2032 battery present for
this (for when the main batteries run out or are removed).
also uses a secondary backup battery that is not
user-accessible. This 3V lithium coin cell battery (CR2032)
powers the memory, preventing data loss when the unit is
turned off and the primary AA batteries or rechargeable
battery pack are dead. This lithium battery should be good for
approximately 7–10 years. It is mounted in a socket and is
above is a little contradictory! "Not user-accessible... [yet]
is replaceable.]" I tested mine by removing the main batteries
for two minutes, as suggested by the manual, and then put them
back in and went to see if my test file was still present...
Yes! I can see it through the translucent case above the top
right-edge of the keyboard, but not clear enough to confirm it
isn't leaking - these rarely leak but the manual does say these
can last 7-10 years and this device is older than that.
Transferring Text to a Computer
wondered how this device would transfer the files to my computer
- would I require special software (not included) or archaic
technique? No, when plugged into a computer with a printer-type
USB cable it behaves like a USB keyboard and you can type into a
text/Word document with it (for older machines an 'Y Cable' may
be required); pressing the send key will send the contents of
one of your files (as if you were tying it, but faster) - the
AlphaSmart 3000 supports 8 different files accissible through
the 'file' keys. There is also an infrared facility, but your
receiving computer would need to be compatible with this. Now
the question is, can you get text from your computer into the
You must have
AlphaBeam software or Get Utility 3.0 or newer installed on
computer to enable the transfer.
side note, the AlphaSmart Pro, released 5 years earlier in 1995,
operated as a PS/2 keyboard instead. This meant it was
compatible with Windows 95 and NT, unlike the 3000.
January 16 2006 was www.alphasmart.com's high point according to
An initial test shows that the device will power on to which
ever file was being worked on last and it states this briefly
while powering up.
There is a data recovery option which I wish I had read about
before creating my test file as that potentially over-wrote data
for that one, but I found some interesting things!...
I thought to myself that it would be funny to find someone's
saucy novel... well!...
file 1: "Test.d on the 29th May 2022hgfjhydm
kvgg5" [Now I recall that the ebay seller had put a photo up
with "Tested on..." on the screen, then deleted it and I'd done
my test with "Test." overwriting the deleted data of the first 5
file 3: "Hayley cope loves simon and emma loves dominic"
file 7: "fgdfbj" - perhaps this is the password to someone's
multi-million dollar crypto-currency account.
file 8: "ghghgfhjggfjhggjoisey when she wees!!!" - remnants of
the final chapter of that novel I suppose.
While deleting files clearly doesn't erase them securely the
device does have Password Protection capability, particularly
with multiple users in mind... you just have to contact
AlphaSmart to obtain a master password.
are mini-software applications that extend the AlphaSmart
3000’s functionality for keyboarding, quizzing, outlining, and
more. Smart-Applets are available as either shrink-wrapped
software (on CDs or disks), or as downloads to the AlphaSmart
pressed the applets key to find I had, besides Alphaword and
Calculator, AlphaKeys, whatever that is.
- There is a
brief User Guide label on the underside of the machine.
- I have pondered
the lack of backlight for the screen.
- This device is
far more energy-efficient to type on than a laptop.
- How much memory
have I used up on my AlphaSmart?
AlphaSmart 3000 file is full, a message will be displayed... The
file status dialog box can be accessed by pressing Command+I
while in a file. The box displays the current number of pages in
a file, and how much space is left.
file that at present spans just over two days, takes up 9.5
files and has 3.0 pages left... i.e. I could fill a file in four
days (when I have a lot to write)! 4 x 8 = 32... therefore there
is a total capacity (at my present rate) to Journal for a month.
There is a
warning in the manual:
Please note that downloading a SmartApplet to the AlphaSmart
3000 resets (erases) all the files and settings, and adding
SmartApplets to the AlphaSmart 3000 decreases the total memory
or file capacity.
Since I'd previously calculated the user's useable area to be
around 200K, the total memory, I would suspect, is 256KB
(assuming the OS takes up only 56K).
- Transfer files
to the AlphaSmart?
Get Utility [still available] is a software utility application
for PC or Mac that allows the user to send text from a computer
to an AlphaSmart 3000... You can send text to an AlphaSmart from
your computer by using [the] USB [cable]... The program
transfers the current contents of the Windows Clipboard to an
attached AlphaSmart 3000. (The Clipboard is a memory buffer that
allows the transfer of information between different programs.)