DreamWriter offers schools possible computer
by Alan Zisman (c)
published in Toronto Computes,
NTS Computer Systems, Ltd.
Parents, teachers and school administrators, students,
all share questions and concerns about how to get enough computers into
schools to make a real difference.
Macs or PCs? Desktops or notebooks? Labs or in the
classroom? One thing
seems clear?there?s no single right answer, no one size fits all.
Maple-Ridge, BC-based NTS Computer Systems think they
have one answer?their
new DreamWriter I.T. Smaller and more portable than a standard
cheaper than a desktop system, it offers a way to put more computers
the hands of more students.
The DreamWriter was developed using Microsoft?s
Windows CE-Pro operating
system, so it looks and feels much like a Windows 95 machine, and will
be immediately usable by anyone comfortable with Win95. Like other CE
it includes a pack of Microsoft applications, built right into the
ROM, for instant access- Pocket versions of Word, Excel, Internet
and Outlook for word processing, spreadsheets, and even web browsing
But unlike most CE machines, the DreamWriter offers
the hardware options
of a ?real? computer. There?s an 8 inch colour screen, and a large,
keyboard, and a touchpad. A 33.6 fax modem, and a pair of PC-card
And built-in parallel, serial, and Ethernet networking ports. There?s
a floppy disk drive.
As a result, unlike most CE machines, the DreamWriter
can easily connect
to printers and networks, and save files for easy transfer between
In fact, while NTS?s license only allows them to sell the DreamWriters
to schools, these outclass competitive CE-Pro models aimed at the
market from better-known makers like HP.
Science software is also included, aimed at
junior-high level classes:
Data Harvest Sensing Data Logger, Sciencesoft Graphing, Statistics, and
a scientific calculator. The Data Logger software is used in
with temperature and light-data collection hardware included in the
Science Lab package.
Because the unit is so portable, NTS proposes it as an
answer to the
?lab vs. classroom? dilemma facing many schools?get a class set of
together with their Rol-a-Lab unit, making it easy to pack up 20
into one portable package, and roll it from classroom to classroom.
of making the students go to the computer lab, the computer lab can
to them! At the same time, the computers are small enough and sturdy
that students can take them with them?to the library, or on a field
So what?s the catch, you ask?
While Windows CE looks and feels pretty much like
it is a completely different operating system. As a result, you can
run CE programs. While the DreamWriter is ready to use right out of the
box, it can?t run any of the wide range of standard Windows educational
programs. No other games, no other applications. (Of course that might
be a good thing?no pressure to spend extra money buying other programs,
and no danger of viruses).
Well worth consideration by schools or parent groups
trying to figure
out how to get the most benefit from their limited resources.