Does A Writer Need The Freewrite Traveler?

Look, I love new tech gadgets and when I saw the campaign for the Freewrite traveler over two years ago, I jumped onboard and paid the $349 price tag as a backer. This new “distraction-free” device was what I thought would replace my Alphasmart device that I used to create drafts or any type of minimalist writing.

The delays of the release of the Traveler brewed quite a bit of frustration. Eventually, Astrohaus, makers of the Traveler, announced that the device was being shipped October 27th. I finally received mine two days later. I sold it on eBay two days after that. Yep, that was my disappointment with the long awaited device.

The dealbreaker for me was the lag time between pressing the key and the letter appearing on the e-ink screen. I couldn’t get past that frustration with the Traveler.

A writer doesn’t need the Traveler. You just need discipline.

The Traveler is basically designed to be a first draft device. Editing is very limited. The idea is just to set your inspiration free and avoid distractions. Just write.

Send me $429 (the current listed price for the Traveler) and I will give you some advice. Just write. Oddly enough, I am trying this post on my iPhone. Just grab whatever is available. That’s the great thing for writers and technology that is available to us today. With cloud technology, our writing is available wherever we go on any device we have that connects to the Internet.

You don’t need an expensive device just for writing. Use what you have that works into your workflow. For me, the Traveler didn’t fit.

If you want to spend money on something, spend it on a laptop instead. You always have the ability to turn off the distractions. A good laptop will benefit a writer much more than a niche device.

I really wanted to like the Traveler. It was an epic letdown for me and I don’t like being disappointed but I faced the reality of the way I work. I felt like I was forcing the Traveler to fit my workflow.

The point is….just write. You don’t need a special device to do it.

The Freewrite Traveler Review

This is my first draft experience with the Freewrite Traveler from Astrohaus. After a two-year wait and many delays, it is finally here and I finally have mine. I am now typing on the device. Initially, I have noticed that the typing experience is a bit different. I am a fast typist so it is a bit slower for me than usual. The other noticeable difference is that there is a bit of a lag time with the text appearing on the screen.

Improvement over the Alphasmart devices?  Maybe not.  It’s just a different device.  If you have an Alphasmart, don’t get rid of it.  Hold onto it tight with both hands.  

I wrote a previous blog about whether this device was fact or fiction.  It is definitely fact but will it be a good device to write fiction?  That remains to be seen.  At the moment, I’m still a bit frustrated by the lag time.  They need to fix this. My brain and fingers operate at a faster speed than this device can handle.

It is definitely a drafting device. If you are like me and feel the need to correct or edit as you go, it’s going to be a painful adjustment.  

What’s the return policy on this thing?

Just kidding.  

It’s going to be an adjustment.  It’s new.  It’s different.

Couldn’t someone have upgraded the Alphasmart instead?

So what do I like about it?

It’s very portable and lightweight.  I can take it with me everywhere.  If you just want to write and nothing else, this is a good tool to take with you. 

It’s great for outdoor use.  You don’t have to struggle with the brightness issues like you would with a laptop or tablet.  

It automatically synchs to the cloud.  You won’t lose your work.  Once you hit your wifi, it synchs.  Done.  The process of linking it to my Google Drive account was easy.

Some interesting features:

You can scroll through the lower screen to show word count, reading time (time it takes to read what you’ve written) and number of characters. There is also a timer, clock, and information about your folder/wifi connection. I think the word count feature and timer are two things I would use the most.

What I don’t like about it?

Ugh.  the lag time between typing and text appearing on the screen.  Could be a deal breaker.

The white keyboard annoys me.  It’s going to get dirty.  What were they thinking?  I guess it looks pretty out of the box.  It won’t look so pretty after continuous use (if there is any).

This device is designed for writers as a “distraction free” device.  I suppose it does that.  I’m not sure you need a special device for that just discipline to NOT be distracted and write on whatever device you have.

After waiting in anticipation for over two years for this device, I can tell you that I honestly feel let down.  It wasn’t worth it and definitely not worth the price.  I paid $349 for it two years ago, it’s now $429.  Check it out for yourself at www.astrohaus.com. I would have rather used that money for a new MacBook Air.

I really wanted to like this device and justify its cost.  If I’m really being honest, I can’t.  I’m feeling a little buyer’s remorse right now.  I will try it a little longer and see if it fits into my workflow but my first impressions of tech devices are usually pretty accurate. 

If you are a writer and thinking about this device, don’t spend the money on it.  You don’t need it.  Get a newer laptop or see if you can get an Alphasmart device on eBay.

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

freewrite

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.