Freewrite Traveler: Fact or Fiction?

I am a sucker for new gadgets so when I saw an advertisement a new word processing device called the Freewrite Traveler from Astrohaus, it was one of those things I HAD to have. Astrohaus had developed the first Freewrite machine, which was a larger version of the Traveler and had a price tag of $549. It wasn’t very portable either. When the company offered to pre-order the Freewrite Traveler at a much lower cost, I signed up and placed my pre-ordered.

That was October 2018. I still don’t have it. I’m beginning to wonder if it will ever become reality.

So what exactly is the Freewrite Traveler?

The device is like a laptop but without email or Internet access. It is solely made for writers and synchronizes documents to the cloud. It claims to be the ultimate distraction-free writing tool. It comes with a 4-week battery life, e-ink screen, full-size keyboard and weighs less than 2lbs. Having owned an AlphaSmart NEO for years, this was going to be an upgrade.

It isn’t here and I have a feeling it is never going to come.

At the time of pre-order, we were told it would be here by the Summer of 2019. Then it was the fall of 2019 and the latest update moved the timeline to beginning of 2020.

Are they messing with us and our investment here? I’m really beginning to wonder. It is almost to the point of informing some law enforcement agency about this. It has scam written all over it.

A company called “Indiegogo” is managing the pre-orders. According to their website, they have raised approximately $714,510 from 2.493 people. The issues appears to involve something called the Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) and they claim it is the most important electrical component in the Traveler device. Another problem was with their power management controller vendor – Dialog Semiconductor. They claim that in October 2018, Apple signed a gigantic $600 million deal with Dialog for their power management systems which they didn’t know about until six months later and were no longer able to offer a custom variant of the chip they had promised.

BS? I’m beginning to think so.

So will the Freewrite Traveler ever be a real, usable device? If they do push it out I’m seriously doubtful of what kind of quality device it will be and will it live up to the claims they show on their website?

I’m seriously doubting it and considering pulling my pre-order from this fictional machine. My AlphaSmart NEO is still working well and I can also use my iPAD to do any writing I need to do without distraction – especially if I put it in Airplane Mode. I was just excited about a new gadget to use for my writing. I liked the fact that it would automatically synch my writing projects to the cloud. I wasn’t too fond of the e-ink screen which means it wouldn’t work in low light conditions but it would help with eye strain.

I’m disappointed with Astrohaus and Indiegogo. I will never pre-order from them again.

Even if they do manage to produce a real world device, will it be worth it? There are already some things I’m not too fond of such as the white keyboard. Who makes a white keyboard anyway (besides Apple)? That’s really not too smart for a device that is made to be on the go.

P.T. Barnum once said “There’s a sucker born every minute”. I guess I’m one of the suckers here.

I’m beginning to think that there is no Freewrite Traveler and it isn’t coming.


Freewrite Traveler or Bust


Okay, I did it.  I took the risk and pre-ordered the Freewrite Traveler from Astrohaus.  I paid the $275 dollars for a tech device that hasn’t even been built yet and not expected to ship until June 2019.

I hope I’m not the sucker here.   People that know me know how I like gadgets and new/unique tech stuff.   Over the years I have fallen for the Pocket PC, Palmtop PC, Google Nexus 7, iPad Air, iPad Mini and just about any techie device.  I even had a digital Bible at some point in the past that I carried to church.  (Not to mention the various keyboards and other accessories I have collected over the years.)

The Freewrite Traveler is a distraction-free e-ink word processor which is billed to be the ultimate writer’s tool.  You can take the device anywhere and write when inspiration strikes and upload to the cloud.   Traveler removes the ability to get distracted. There isn’t a web browser, email client, or even any notifications which means all that energy required to resist temptation is now freed for a more useful purpose, your writing.

The Traveler also has:

  • 4-week battery life
  • E ink screen
  • Less than 2 lbs
  • Full-size keyboard
  • Folding design for maximum portability
  • Syncs to Dropbox, Evernote and Google Drive

For a writer like myself, this looks like a good investment.  I just hope it lives up to the expectations.  Although I can work on a laptop, ipad or other devices and ignore distractions I like the idea of having a device that is only dedicated to my writing.  No apps and no other things cluttering up the device.  Just a keyboard and screen.

I also like the idea of synching to a cloud drive.  I want to be able to access my projects wherever I go and not have to keep them on a hard drive or flash drive device.

The folks at Astrohaus say that studies have shown it takes 25 minutes on average to refocus on the original task after a single interruption.  I think anyone who writes or reads can identify with this.  Getting in the “flow” is so important to a writer.  You don’t want anything to stop you.

Right now the Traveler is in the crowdfunding stage and the last update stated that in less than a day, the Traveler has been 333% funded by 525 people.  That should be a good sign that this product will actually become reality.  That’s a good sign and, for me, that I won’t end up being a sucker for another tech gadget.

So now I wait until June.  I’m not good at waiting.