The Freewrite Alpha is a portable device designed for folks that want a distraction-free writing experience, but prefer a keyboard to pen and paper. It has a full-sized mechanical keyboard and a 6.5″ x 1″ monochrome LCD display that’s just large enough to display between 2 and 6 lines of text at a time, depending on the font size.
First unveiled earlier this month, the Freewrite Alpha is expected to ship in July, 2023. It has a retail price of $349, but it’s up for pre-order through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and early backers can save as much as $100 off the retail price.
Other members of the Freewrite family have E Ink displays for a more paper-like viewing experience, while the Alpha has more of a black-on-gray screen. The good news is that it’s a reflective display that should be easily visible outdoors and it has a higher refresh rate than E Ink, which means text should appear instantly as you type. The bad news is that this is basically the kind of display you’d find on an old-school digital watch or calculator. It’s serviceable, but that’s about the best you can say for it.
But maybe serviceable is all you need from a portable word processor. The point isn’t to relish in the display or other features, but to have a comfortable, distraction-free typing experience anywhere you go.
The Freewrite Alpha supports WiFi 4 wireless connectivity so that it can automatically sync documents to the cloud. But it’s not meant for web browsing, media playback, or anything other than writing.
Astrohaus says features include:
- Instant-on: You can start writing as soon as you turn the device on.
- Auto-save: Documents are automatically saved to internal storage and synced to the cloud when WiFi is available. There’s enough built-in storage to save at least a million pages of text.
- Cloud sync: There’s support for services including Freewrite’s Postbox as well as third-party services including Dropbox, Google Drive, and Evernote.
- Basic editing: You can move the cursor using WASD/arrow keys and backspace for simple editing. But there’s no spell checker, no support for copy & paste, and no text formatting. This is a device for getting your ideas out. You can worry about formatting once you’ve synced your documents to another device.
The design of the Freewrite Alpha draws heavy inspiration from classic devices from the 1980s and 1990s including the AlphaSmart, Cambridge Z88, and TRS-80 Model 100. But it has modern features including a USB-C port for charging, 802.11b/g/n WiFi support.
The Freewrite Alpha weighs 1.9 pounds, offers up to 100 hours of battery life, and has a USB-C port for recharging the 4,200 mAh battery. The mechanical keyboard features Kailh Choc V2 low-profile switches, but they can be swapped for other MX compatible keys.
For now AstroHous is only planning to offer an English International keyboard layout and language support, but if there’s enough demand the company could offer other language options in the future.