Writing Accessories: Laptops, PDA’s, Digital Pens and USB Drives

The profession of writing is fraught with enough cost and stress, that choosing between a variety of technologies to aid in your writing should be easy, and not break your budget.

While the following selections are not full of frills and features that high end models often show, these products fit into both the writer’s life, and their budget.

Laptops: Why would you want a laptop over your trusty desktop in the den? In a word: Inspiration. Being able to lug the laptop wherever you want for a quiet writing time is invaluable. Park, coffee shop, mountains, beach, the sky is the limit. Depending on location, if the computer is outfitted with wireless capabilities, you can do the majority of your work while running around. While the current big laptops range in price from around one thousand dollars and up, if you are willing to dig around a little bit, you can find remanufactured and used laptops for a much lower cost.

Depending on your needs, you can easily get a laptop for as little as 400 dollars. If you are looking for a laptop to simply run a word processor and Internet browser, the lower range of processor and ram will suit you just fine, a400mhz computer with 64 megabits of ram will run most word processors and browsers fine.

To save cost even more, use free alternatives as opposed to buying another license for Microsoft Word or Wordperfect. Open Office is a solid program, containing many of the same features as Word, as well as a similar interface to other popular word processors.

Recommended companies to purchase from:
IBM, Toshiba, Dell

Estimated price range: $400-$1,000

PDAs (or Personal Digital Assistants):
These little devices are starting to get as prevelent as cell phones, and in some cases, are integrated into cell phones (such as the blueberry). For the writer, these can be considered as an electronic notepad. The main features you want to look for is a readable screen, robust word processor, and comfortable keyboard/stylus combination. While integrated devices such as a camera may be nice, it is often preferred to have a completely separate camera that could connect on its own to the pda. For the random article idea, or as an alternative to the laptop, pda’s are definitely worth a look at.

Recommended companies to purchase from:
Sony, Toshiba, Palm

Estimated price range: $100-$300

Digital Pens: This is an interesting concept. A pen that can be used as normal, or, when writing on special digital paper, can save the handwritten text to memory, to be transferred to a PC later on. This is mainly directed to the writer who is more comfortable with handwriting articles or ideas than typing them into a computer, or who can write faster than typing. Typically the pens come with handwriting recognition software so that once the pages are uploaded to the computer, they are automatically converted with a minimum of hassle. The size of digital pens is quite a bit thicker than a normal pen, so if you have smaller hands it may be an issue, as well as needing to charge the pen’s battery from time to time. The digital paper is quite a bit more expensive than normal notebook paper, but if you are looking for a way around typing your notes in manually, this is definitely a nice product to look into.

Recommended companies to purchase from:
Logitech, Nokia

Price Range: $130-$200

USB Key Drives: Thumb, pen, or key drives, as they are most commonly referred to as, is a recently newcomer in the field of data storage. Typically no larger than ones thumb, these drives are used for storing files and transferring them easily between two or more computers via the USB port. Most are provided with key chain attachments so that you can always keep them at hand, and others have clips so that you can attach them onto your pockets like small highlighters often have. The cost is dependent on the amount of capacity you are looking for, but for most writing, the small 32 megabyte size is sufficient for quite a few .docs, pictures, and even power point presentations. This is the perfect device if you want to transfer files from laptop to desktop, and need more storage than the floppy on the laptop, and no wish to waste a CD to burn the files, as well as cross compatibility with a wide range of operating systems, be it Mac, Windows, or Linux.

Recommended companies to purchase from:
Iomega, Verbatim

Price Range: $30-$200

The key on minimizing price for new technology is to have a very focused idea on what you need each product to do. Each product has its own strengths and weaknesses, and no one product is able to do everything for you. Pricewatch and Ebay are two places to look for the lowest prices on these types of products, although with Ebay shopping, make sure to purchase from a seller that both has a high positive feedback rating, and, preferably, is a dealer or reseller.

Technology is all about making your life easier, so don’t let it make yours harder. See what product suits your writing needs and saves you time to do what you really want to do, write.

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