As writers, we start with pen and paper, and then we move on to devices that help us write, revise, and edit faster. Our parents had typewriters; we have computers. Computers are, or at least seem to be, less wasteful than typewriters and have many useful features, but they also happen to have tiring and glaring screens, and distracting Internet connections, too. Now there’s a new device for writers that promises us the joy of a typewriter-like keyboard without the distractions of a computer, and without depriving us of the convenience of paperless, digital documents – the Freewrite Smart Typewriter.
The Quest For Less Screen Time
For quite some time now I’ve been looking for a viable alternative to my laptop. I know I cannot just throw my laptop out the window, but I’d desperately want to use it less. I yearn for a more authentic writing experience for my creative compositions. I’m writing this on my laptop of course and laptops are great writing tools. But because I write for hours every day, I find the screen of my laptop tiring and headache-inducing, especially at night. I feel I would be more mindful, more relaxed with less screen time every day.
You could say that if I hate screens so much I could simply handwrite. I do handwrite and love it, but it’s so much slower than typing, and revising and edits are a pain. Besides, handwritten documents have to be typed on a computer at some point anyway. Not to mention that papers can easily get lost or misplaced.
The Smart Typewriter Alternative
I’ve been thinking about buying a typewriter, but hey, what about the trees? I wouldn’t want to torment trees with my writing. And there’s no backspace key either, is there? Another inconvenience of typewriters is that nowadays, pages have to be converted into a digital format, and not only does this take time, but it makes a typewriter feel a little redundant.
We are sending rockets into space, so surely some bright mind somewhere must have invented some kind of modern typewriter. Indeed, such a device seems to have been invented. Originating as a crowdfunded project on Kickstarter, Freewrite is a “distraction-free tool for writing composition” combining “ the simplicity of a typewriter with all of the modern conveniences of 2016”, that is to say, an e-ink screen with a frontlight and document cloud sync through WiFi .
Freewrite has a “full-size mechanical keyboard, an internal capacity for over one million pages, and a rugged construction with an aluminum body ”. The four pounds it weighs seem to be manageable with the stowable handle.
Potential Disadvantages of the Freewrite
The Freewrite looks promising and the emphasis on simplicity is wonderful. The screen may seem peculiarly small, but then that’s probably just because we’re so used to our laptops. Since it’s an e-ink screen (like the screen of your Kindle ebook reader if you have one) it’s not fatiguing for the eyes, and since it’s a no-glare screen, it can be used outside as well.
One inconvenience of the Freewrite is that there’s no cursor, so that you cannot edit text on it – you would still have to open and edit documents on your computer. In terms of composition and flow, this can actually be an advantage. Unlike a classic typewriter, Freewrite doesn’t waste paper, and there’s no need for time-consuming transcriptions, either, because documents are saved online and can be opened right on your computer.
Oh, and there’s another inconvenience – Freewrite costs $500+, taxes and shipment fees to Romania not included.
I’d really like to try the Freewrite. It’s the one gadget out there I’m really enthusiastic about. But it’s a new device, it’s (a bit) costly, and we don’t know how it performs. So before I rob a bank or two I’ll wait for the first reviews to come out and see what people make of it.
Now let me ask you a question: when it comes to your creative writing, would you trade your laptop for the Freewrite or some other similar device?