Last year I tried the Freewrite Smart Typewriter – an expensive single-purpose e-ink typewriter that does one thing very well. You can compose text with an excellent keyboard and no distractions. If you’re a serious writer, there’s a lot to like, but it definitely doesn’t come cheap; Astrohaus, the company behind the Freewrite, even raised the prices of its products earlier this year, including the full-size model and the portable, laptop-style Freewrite Traveler.
Today, however, Astrohaus is introducing a third device they’ve been teasing for a few weeks, the Freewrite Alpha. The most important thing to know is that the Alpha will cost $349, or $249 if you buy it through the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, which starts today. This still isn’t cheap, but it’s half the price of the Freewrite Traveler and still offers the same core features as the other products in the range.
The Freewrite Alpha is a small two-pound slate with a fold-out kickstand that’s probably not quite as portable as the Traveler, but should still be fairly easy to transport. Despite the small size, it still features a full-fledged mechanical keyboard with Kailh Choc V2 low-profile switches. I suspect they’ll have a lot more travel than the laptop-style keyboard on the Traveler, although they probably won’t offer as satisfying a typing experience as you’ll get with the full-length Kailh Box Brown keyboard. Size Smart Typewriter.
It’s also the first Freewrite to use an LCD display instead of the other models’ E Ink screens. It’s a smaller screen than the already small displays on other Freewrite models; It can display between two and six lines of text depending on the font size used. Given that Freewrite devices are designed for drawing rather than editing, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem, it is you will see fewer copies on this device than others. You can scroll back up and see what you’ve written and use the WASD keys to move the cursor, but I’ve found that for the most part I just keep plowing and typing.
Astrohaus says the LCD display is reflective and uses ambient light, so it’s not quite the same as looking at a glowing rectangle like your phone or iPad. But it probably won’t be quite as eye-friendly as the E Ink screen on other Freewrites. But on the other hand, the refresh rate should be much faster. As for battery life, the Alpha should last around 100 hours. Previous Freewrites didn’t have specific battery estimates; Astrohaus only says they last weeks between charges.
There are many things the Alpha has in common with other Freewrite models. Everything you write is automatically saved locally on the device, and – provided you connect it to WiFi – everything is also backed up to the cloud and available on the Freewrite Postbox web app. You don’t have to use this proprietary service either, as the Alpha can also back up to Evernote, Dropbox, or Google Drive. For the old school among us, you can also connect the Alpha to a computer and pull out the local files via its USB-C port (this is also used for charging).
If you’re interested, the Indiegogo campaign mentioned above is live now, but devices aren’t expected to ship until July 2023. That’s a long wait for this product, but the current price of $249 is a lot cheaper than any previous Freewrite – so if this device catches your eye, it might be worth checking out Indiegogo. While freewrite devices are expensive, I can say from experience that they can really help you focus on writing, provided you can stay away from your phone, of course.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team independently from our parent company. Some of our stories contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may receive an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at time of publication.
https://www.engadget.com/freewrite-alpha-portable-smart-typewriter-140005201.html?src=rss Freewrite Alpha is the cheapest smart typewriter Astrohaus has made yet