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.

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Tech For Writers: Freewrite Traveler

freewrite

Freewrite Traveler:  New Tech for Writers

A new tech gadget appeared in my Facebook feed that caught my attention which, if done right, could be a great new thing for writers.  I am excited about it and hope it meets the expectations.

The Freewrite Traveler is a project from the people who created the Astrohaus Freewrite device. I wasn’t onboard with that device because it has been way too overpriced and more of a high tech typewriter but this new model is something different.   It would appear to be something writers would actually use to get “unplugged” from everything.

The Freewrite Traveler is a much better concept that I think could be a better device.

So what is this Freewrite Traveler? It is a high tech word processing device without internet, email, games or other distractions. There is Wifi capability where documents can be saved or backed up into cloud storage. This is a distraction-free device which is ideal for writers or students.

Okay, I know the critic out there who would say:  “Just use a laptop or tablet and turn off your email and stay off of the Internet, Facebook, etc.”  You would have a point but this is more than just a device to force self-discipline. This is an ideal writer’s tool.  Distraction is such a huge obstacle for writers.

Inspiration hits in many ways and having an effective tool to capture those moments would be amazing.

The last truly effective similar device was the Alphasmart devices. I still have one that I will throw into a bag when going outdoors because it is the perfect device to use in outdoor lighting and more comfortable to type on. Text is uploaded to a PC via USB cable. The Traveler promises to be a new and improved model.

Here are some of the details that are planned for this device:

  • E Ink Screen – This should help with eye strain you get from laptops and tablets.
  • Less than 2 lbs – ideal for travel
  • Full-size scissor switch keyboard – a real keyboard
  • Document cloud synch through WiFi – Never lose a document
  • Millions of pages of memory
  • Four weeks of battery life

These are some pretty nifty features for this device but here are some things I would want for this device:

  • Instant on – I want a device that doesn’t  have to “boot up”.  It needs to instantly turn on.
  • Backlit keys – No a deal breaker but it would be a nice option if inspiration hits at night and you don’t want to disturb others.
  • Look – I have to be honest.  The prototype looks wonky.  I don’t like all the white plus can’t the screen be bigger and not look like a 60s television?
  • Feel – The keys are the most important part of this device.  It must be easy to type and not feel cramped.  It doesn’t have to be a full-size keyboard but it needs to be the right size.
  • USB or SD Slot – I know it plans to have documents synching to the cloud but it would be nice to have this option when you don’t have WiFi access.

I like the idea for this and I hope the final design is something that will help us to finally forget the AlphaSmart.  The Traveler is not available yet and there is no indication on when it will be available.  The website states that it will be “crowdsourcing soon”.   There is no estimate on what the price will be for the Traveler but most are hoping for no more than $250.00.  (The original Freewrite Smart Typewriter currently sells for $499 which is the main reason I never jumped on it.)  If you would like more information on the Freewrite Traveler and signup for updates, you can go to their website here.