Astrohaus' Freewrite Traveler might not be ideal for every writer, but maybe you'll dig it

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TL;DNR: “Basically, it’s a slightly improved, smaller version of the same piece of crap, but some of you guys might like it. I dunno, leave me alone.”


I’ve seen devices like the Scripto, but has anyone done a “boot into a rich text editor” tutorial using a Raspberry Pi? I’d love to grab a device like this 3.5" display case, pair it with a mechanical keyboard and battery, and use that for the same purpose.

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To me, this would be the most ideal. I actually use a mechanical/gel hybrid keyboard that I rest on my lap, with an elevated monitor to keep my eyes as straight ahead as possible, now, and I love it. But, as with all things, distractions are the worst, so I’ve had to systematically block all my distracting websites to keep me on task while I’m writing.

My ideal setup for at home use would be nothing more than a raspberry pi system that runs only a word processor, but which still has cloud backup.

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BT keyboard and a tablet? No?

It should be possible, but I just don’t have the Linux chops.

Kind of? But that doesn’t tick the “distraction free” box.

I would suggest that with even a simple piece of paper and pencil, if you start to doodle and otherwise not write, it isn’t a fault of the technology.

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No, it isn’t; but if you struggle with focus, then why not use tools to limit distraction? This isn’t so much a “portable computing device” as a deliberately self-limiting tool.

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…So I just bought a used Alphasmart 3000 for CDN$40.


Why not simply uninstall all but the writing app and disable the WiFi on the tablet?

Or you could save your money and go retro:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Yeah, that’s doable. I’m kind of hoping for something more elegant. Like a kiosk-mode type window manager, and a simple rich text editor that displays full screen when you start the thing. The more I hash this out, the more I think I’m just being lazy.

Just out of curiosity, can we find a non-employee who likes the device?

Whoops, looks like I’m not the first to talk about the aging but still great because it’s cheap Alphasmart series. They’re great because they’re cheap, but still very usable due to their almost future-proof design for getting files off of them. (They emulate a USB keyboard that “types” the file out to any USB-recognizing device.)

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This is a ridiculous product that nobody needs. It is the “Mostly” in the Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things.

Well, hang on.

Maybe that describes anything not food, water, shelter, and Maslow. You’re not wrong, and I had a similar thought myself.

But I also remember wishing I had a little device I could do writing on in high school and college, which did maybe one or two other little things, too, more portable than a proper typewriter, but with a big enough screen for half a page of text at least and a good keyboard.

I’m not saying this thing is it, but it’s cool to look back and wonder what I could have done with devices like it.

I learned to type on a manual typewriter in my first year of high school. Mercifully i never needed to write any actual papers on a typewriter because we got we got a Commodore 64 later that year.

Given my first hand experience with typewriters, I can confidently say that Copy, cut, and paste are the three best things that Silicon Valley has ever given to the world (with cursor keys close behind) and any digital “distraction free writing tool” that does not provide that functionality is fundamentally broken at the conceptual design level.

You can give this Freewrite gadget buckling spring switches or scissor switches or even Alps switches, it will remain a useless turd no matter how you gild it.

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Behold, a thinkpad 300 series from the 90’s. An excellent portable-ish writing machine that can run your choice of text editors, do a few other things, and is pretty much guaranteed to be distraction free since it won’t run any web browser capable of accessing the modern internet. Will probably continue to work perfectly long after the world’s last Freewrite is consigned to the recycling centre. And at 1/6th the price.


I love my 2011 Mack Book Air. Until last week it ran the most recent version of OS X – it remains certainly powerful enough to write on.

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