Freewrite Alpha, writing gadget inspired by legendary Alphasmart, gets a good review

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After endless attempts at portable focus-zone writing devices like a dedicated keyboard for my old Palm, and two versions of the AlphaSmart* I accepted that the best option for me is a nice-ish composition book and a pen. Transcribing is a bore, but the battery life, portability, and budget price all work best for me.

* one from eBay, traded up to a Neo which I use for said transcribing.


I got my wife the freewrite traveler and she absolutely loves it.

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My antique Tandy Model 100 scratches that distraction free, nice to type on itch for me and for the price they’re asking for this thing you could definitely find one in good nick and add a modern wireless addon to make syncing the resulting files out a breeze.

I’d need to get hands on to verify; but having the display parallel to the keyboard is making me uncomfortable just looking at the pictures of it.

I can see the incentive; a nontrivial percentage of an alphasmart’s height was just to provide room for the angle of the screen; and that angle helped make the screen more vulnerable in a non-clamshell; but I’m not sure I could handle a situation where looking at the screen means adopting the pre-touch-typing posture that they trained out of me back in middle school and have discouraged ever since.

While were on “can see why they did it; makes my eyebrows twitch”; anyone taking bets on how long the cloud account that isn’t mandatory unless you want to do something crazy like change your display settings will be extant?


The last time this came up, I figured that there was nothing warranting patent-protection in something like this and that there would be perfectly practical Chinese knockoffs of these $350 gadgets selling for a fraction of the price in short order. Did that never happen…?

(I’m also still wondering why we haven’t seen a cheap Kinesis knockoff now that their patents are long expired.)


After spending weeks writing the first chapter of my thesis, and then weeks procrastinating on writing the second chapter, I finally took just pen and paper to the library and wrote out the whole chapter in long hand in a single afternoon. Actually, there was still plenty of time left in the day to transcribe and edit it.

It doesn’t always work, but yeah, sometimes thoughts flow much easier through ink.


I also like having my collection of composition books, accumulated over several years. Since the format never changes they’re still readable—if I can read my own handwriting, that is. Also I haven’t transcribed everything so they’re cumbersome to search. Where did I write down those ten pages of notes about Rip Taylor?

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