The Freewrite, a beautiful, rugged machine for writing -- and nothing else

Me too!

This and the cost is the main reason I dislike this. There is no reason for the Freewrite to actually weigh that much.


I halfway agree. The original idea behind the Hemingwrite was to create an “heirloom” electronic device–something well-made and sturdy enough that it could outlast a person and be handed down to the next generation. I’m not so sure that’s necessary, though if I am going to have a dedicated writing device that costs $500 (well, $350 for kickstarter backers, but…) I want it to be sturdy.

The Alphasmart is fairly sturdy, but you still have to get into the guts to change out the long-term memory battery (which you will want to do–those batteries have a predicted lifespan of about five years, and it’s been about that long since the Neos were on the market), and I’ve discovered how easy it is to cause an undetectable break in the keyboard cables, so that, for example, the arrow and escape keys stop working (at which point it becomes impossible to navigate the machine’s menus).

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I know it is supposed to be simplified, in a Tandy 100-like fashion, but the lack of a tilt up screen, if it is going to have a screen, seems a poor ergonomic choice for a premium dedicated writing machine. Even typewriters have platens that face the typist rather than straight up towards the sky.

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No distractions. Cast iron instead of aluminum, but you probably need the exercise.


I have a kindle keyboard. There are no number keys. The value of a dedicated number key is best expressed by this phrase.
Of course, if you don’t wish your kindle to connect to the internet, that’s your loss.


Wow, some people are easily distrac


I know of a good site that has extremely rugged machines for writing, unfortunately there’s also a built in sketching app.


You don’t take notes, or don’t want to name bookmarks, when reading books?

A large-size (9") e-ink display and at least half-decent keyboard would be nice to have, for the PDFs of sci/tech books with pictures and graphs that are difficult to reflow to smaller screen… Alas, it is hard to find something with support for such. The touchscreen ersatz-keyboards are way worse than even the chiclets.

Maybe even a Morse code key would be nice…


I absolutely see the value of this in principle, and I appreciate people actually building something instead of just talking about it. And I don’t want to go into design-school crit mode, because there’s no place for that in polite society… but there is a place for it in training people to design stuff, and this is exhibit A for that argument.

I’m not talking about the styling (though I sure could), I’m talking about a machine whose whole reason for being is focus and economy, but which costs and weighs 5 or 10 times what it should, and dedicates half its surface to superfluous ornament.

Looking at the controls makes me suspect the software design is a different and more positive story, but with that physical design and that price tag, I’m dubious that this will make anyone love it.


I just want to say NEC [Starlet] ( 8401 i.e. this cute little puppy:

I used one of those from work for a while in the early '80s, for writing documentation and coding on the go. WordStar in ROM! Instant boot into word processing! They were great little beasts.

Oh, and they took standard C batteries, a virtue not to be sneered at.


This was my exact thought, too. I love the idea of a portable “writing machine” (I’d lug it to the doctor’s office, for instance, so I could get a little writing done in the waiting room) but…stop me if you’ve heard this one…there is no writing, there’s only re-writing. In other words, no matter what I write, it’s never a damn the torpedoes full speed ahead process. I can’t imagine writing without being able to easily revise my text. And that requires a cursor and a mouse.


This would be perfect if it could also connect to the internet.


Somewhere there is someone who would pay $500 for this but it’s not me. It’s interestingly retro looking but it doves a problem that I solve with pen & paper and would do nothing regarding if I’m distracted or not.

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I just use my iPad Air for papers.



I adore this.

At various times, Jonathan Franzen speaks of his laptop and how he’s disabled the internet. Here, he tells the story to the AVClub

AVC: A lot of writers—if they don’t use typewriters or write longhand—claim to only use computers without an Internet connection, because the distraction is too readily available, and no work gets done.

JF: Absolutely. I have one of those nine-pound Dell laptops you can get for $389 because nobody ended up buying that model, for obvious reasons. I took the wireless card out immediately, and I plugged up the Ethernet hole with superglue. The biggest struggle was getting Hearts and Solitaire off of it. I did work on a DOS machine until about five years ago. It ran WordPerfect 5.0, which is still the best software ever written for a writer, I think. But now, obviously, I work on a Windows machine, and Windows just will not let you de-install a Solitaire program. It puts it back whenever you try to remove it.

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I’ve been thinking of doing the same thing by physically disabling the wifi radio inside a lightweight laptop. It’s easy enough in a real laptop - but I have a 1.1 pound Acer chrome book that would make a perfect writing machine if the innards turned out to be user - serviceable. It’s an experiment I’m planning to try.

I can’t anything that justifies lugging 4 pounds when perfectly decent cheap and disablable laptops exist , sorry.