Pomera heads to English-speaking world with new e-ink folding pocket typewriter

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/05/23/pomera-heads-to-english-speaki.html


Cute. The keyboard reminds me of one that I had for my Palm Pilot. But at 450$ it’s far too expensive for us regular plebes.


If you like writing longform, check out Sony’s weird digital paper tablets. There’s a new one coming out next month:


Of course, there’s also the Second Coming of Psion, in the shape of the Gemini PDA from Planet Computers. Which is kinda-sorta a Psion Series 5 updated to run Android or Linux with modern internals, WiFi and 4G, and a better keyboard than the original. I’m getting over 10 hours’ battery life on mine, it runs real applications, and because USB-C recharging is available pretty much anywhere today, the original value proposition of the Pomera – e-ink and AA cells – has expired.

The only edge I can see for the Pomera is if the keyboard is really good and they get the price down further, to less than $200. Otherwise they’re a decade too late to be competitive.

Oh, and it actually exists and I’ve had mine for over a month: Gemini PDA


… Plus, there’s the whackiness that is Tap, a wearable bluetooth chording keyboard/mouse thingy that claims to be actually shipping now (unlike the years-overdue vapourware that is the Waytools TextBlade):


I am waiting with bated breath for this puppy to arrive.

I am going to be the least cool dude in the coffee shop. By far!


No. The least cool dude in the coffee shop is the stealth security guard they have sitting in the corner, sipping on his espresso, and eyeing the clientele.


Agree with almost all of your points, especially regarding the price. I was initially intrigued…until I (expecting something in the $150-200 range) saw the actual price! Ouch!

I can use any of dozens of aftermarket iPad keyboards with my existing iPad (or a cell phone for that matter) and have a better experience. I think they are putting too much stock in the “won’t connect to internet and distract the user” concept. While a worthy goal, the intentional lack of connectivity isn’t something I’m willing to pay for.

That looks AMAZING. How are you finding it for “proper” writing?

I would love an e-ink writing device simply so I could work outside under Australian sunshine. Would it be too much for these things to run regular old Android so I can use Google docs or whatever to write and Dropbox to sync? All these new e-ink devices seem hell bent on inventing their own eco system

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Don’t people get desk jobs to avoid that?

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I have always wanted something to jot notes down on digitally, but that price; woof. At that rate there’s those rumored new Surface tablets. Obviously it’s going to be thicker and heavier but it’s also a full computer with a quality digitizer. Anyway $600 just seems a bit out of reach for me for such a single use gadget. Maybe at half the price?

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I was just about to post a picture of the keyboard I still have for my old Palm Tungsten. It worked amazingly well. Another thing I loved about the Palm was how I could scrawl notes with anything that had a roundish point on it.

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It seems really kind of cool, but the price is one thing and the 20 hours on batteries is also better than a laptop, but not great.

As someone who likes distraction free-writing, I do 90% of my productive creative work on two devices: one is a Macintosh Classic I fixed up (which I can easily transfer text to/from via Zmodem software and a USB to serial null-modem hookup) and an Alphasmart Neo 2. The former is great, since my favorite mechanical keyboard for writing is my early-model AEK (with orange Alps switches) and there are no distractions on a non-networked, black and white computer. The later fills the niche that this has, namely a portable, long-lasting device that can potentially be used in the sun.

Sure eInk is much nicer than an LCD display. However, the Neo supposedly lasts about a year on batteries with regular, daily use. I bought mine off eBay last summer and use it regularly and the batteries are at half. It can dump to anything with the USB connection without special drivers and you can do two-way interaction if you download the software for it.

Look it up. It was a late 90s/early 2000s school typing/note taking/testing device and they are really nice to type on and work well for distraction-free writing. Spending $20-$30 on ebay for something built like a tank that never runs out of batteries is kind of a nice deal.

I have to agree with folks. Why are all these gadgets which do so much less than a laptop or tablet way more expensive? This thing will be around $500 when it hits the market, and some of the products mentioned are the same or even higher. I love the simplicity of these devices, their focus on doing one thing and (presumably) doing it very well, plus the portability. But I won’t pay that kind of money for less features than I get with a chromebook.

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Disclaimer: my Gemini was one of the first batch of 1000 off the production line. There are some minor glitches, and the software is just about usable on the Android side; the Linux version is a developer preview, and as a boring middle-aged dude who wants to get work done, I haven’t bothered installing it yet.

The keyboard is actually better than the original Psion 5’s, which was the benchmark for the best possible QWERTY keyboard you could cram into a device with a 6" screen. You can’t do all-finger touch-typing on it, but if you’re okay using thumbs plus two fingers/hand you can go pretty fast.

Hardware is basically a solid Android phone; x25 deca-core processor, 4Gb RAM, 64GB eMMC flash, plus micro-SIM slot and micro-sd slot. The keyboard, however, is far faster and more responsive than any bluetooth device, and you can actually get stuff done on it … as long as the apps are there for what you want to do. Many Android apps really aren’t optimized for keyboard and landscape orientation screen; others are disappointingly underpowered (e.g. Microsoft Word on Android compared to the desktop program). On the other hand, there are plenty of alternatives (shout-out for TextMaker HD, if you want a roughly Word-equivalent desktop word processor experience that works well on the Gemini, with a little messing with settings).

The one thing I’m really missing is Scrivener, which ain’t coming to Android any time soon. But once I get out of my current project I’m going to start a new one using a Markdown/Dropbox editing environment and see how things go from there.

(Final note: the Gemini is a smartphone, good for voice calls as well. But I don’t use it as such. I’ve got a data SIM in mine, and still carry my iPhone everywhere. If you’re an Android phone user who does a lot of typing and app use, and relatively little yakking or photography, you might well end up ditching your regular phone.)


Shades of Windows CE handheld PCs. I had (still have) a Compaq c140 that I could really type up a storm on.

I’m currently using a dumbphone so this might be for me. I used to use a HP Jornada 720 for the writery purposes I’d be putting this to, and getting a functional phone in the deal really makes it quite interesting.

It seems a British thing, this whole dream of the perfect portable typewriter…

You answer your own question, I think.
Specialized product = specialized price.

The Windows CE handhelds were an inferior rip-off(!) of the British Psion PDAs, which were faster, more responsive, and more versatile … despite having a slower ARM processor (40MHz against 160-200MHz).

Psion hit a wall when Microsoft pre-anounced Windows CE 3 “Jupiter” with a vapourware spec that never materialized, at the same time as Psion’s founder and CEO Dr David Potter (“Potter’s Scientific Instruments” -> “Psion”) had a bout with cancer. Psion was sold to a wholesale/stocktaking gizmo OEM (Teklogix) and left the PDA field, which was subsequently dominated by Palm.

The Gemini PDA’s developers, Planet Computing, hired Martin Riddiford – the designer of the Psion 5 – to do the industrial design of the new machine. And their honorary chairman is one Dr David Potter (who recovered from his illness). Which gives you some idea of where the Gemini’s architectural DNA comes from.