Portable Word Processor -- Super cheap, durable, and fast -- Runs only a word processor, letting you write with no distractions, but that isn't as awful as an Alphasmart
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I'm a student at Stanford University. I can't sit down to write anything without finding myself on Facebook or Youtube within minutes. Sure, I've tried disciplining myself. Sure, I've tried finding a place with no Internet access. Nothing works.
I drool over the idea of a laptop-like device that would function only as a word processor. Something with a lid, a low-resolution, black-and-white LED display, a keyboard, a mouse, and a USB port. That's it. It would be portable enough and durable for me to be able to schlep it around and write anywhere. It would be cheap enough that I wouldn't be nervous to take it into the City. And best of all, it would have no internet access, no games, no paint program -- nothing but clean, white sheets of virtual paper on which to pen the next Great American Novel.
You'd think something this basic would exist. It doesn't. Sure, there are Alphasmarts. But they're horribly overpriced, their shape makes them obnoxious to stuff in my backpack, looking at their "screen" is like looking at a calculator, they're unreadable, they have no mouse so moving around text takes FOREVER, and they don't "shut" so their keyboards are wide open to damage. That they boot up in an instant is a mixed blessing, since it means every time I take out my Alphasmart I find some tiny nudge has kept it turned on for 5 hours.
Why not just buy a laptop and delete everything but Microsoft Word off of it, you ask? Because that would be stupid. That would be like buying a Lexus and then taking out the engine so you can use the body as a dog house.
So come on, someone invent this thing already. It's easy to make. Keep it basic. Resist any urges to put in any bells and whistles whatsoever. And if you keep the cost under $100, I can guarantee there will be a big, juicy market waiting for you.