The Traveler is a portable writing devices that looks a bit like a laptop, but which cannot do most of the things a modern laptop computer can. Instead, it’s designed for one thing only: writing.
It features a 6 inch E Ink display, a full-sized keyboard with scissor switches, enough built-in storage to hold a million “pages” of text, a USB Type-C port for charging and transferring data, and WiFi for saving your documents to cloud storage.
But you can’t use it to surf the web, play games, or listen to music. It doesn’t run third-party apps. It’s aimed at writers who want a distraction-free writing environment and are willing to pay for that experience.
First unveiled earlier this year, the Traveler is expected to ship in June of 2019. You can pre-order one now for
$269 and up through an Indieogo crowdfunding campaign. (Make that $309… The early bird $269 option sold out quickly)
The Traveler measures 12″ x 5″ x 1″ and weighs about 1.8 pounds. It gets up to 30 hours of battery life if you use it continuously, or up to 4 weeks if you use it for about 30 minutes a day.
Beneath the primary display, there’s a small secondary screen that you can use to show word counts or a timer, allowing you to set a goal and keep writing until you meet it, whether that’s to write for 30 minute straight, or to hit 2,000 words before you take a break.
You can use Markdown syntax while writing, and documents can be saved as Word or Final Draft files that you can sync to Dropbox, Google Drive, or Evernote.
The Traveler supports 30 different keyboard layouts and languages.
This is the second device from Astrohaus, a company that’s been selling another E Ink writing device called the Freewrite for a few years. But the Freewrite is a larger and heavier device that’s more like a typewriter than a laptop.
The Freewrite has Cherry MX key switches and lacks the clamshell design that would make it a truly portable device. But it runs similar software and provides evidence that Astrohaus does know how to bring this sort of gadget to market.
According to the Indiegogo campaign page, the full retail price of the Traveler will be $599, which makes the $269 pre-order price look pretty attractive. Astrohaus is also offering a 2-pack for $558 or a Traveler + Freewrite bundle for $728.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual retail price is a little lower — the company had previously indicated that the Traveler would be more affordable than the Freewrite, which currently is currently selling for $499 (marked down from a list price of $549).
The Freewrite reminds me an awful lot of a device I used in the early/mid-80s – except that it had those older LCD screens. If I remember, mine was a smaller 4 line LCD. At the time, it was such an incredible advancement over a typewriter (no more white-out) plus the keyboard was so much more comfortable over a classic typewriter. I wonder if anyone truly misses the typewriter.
Unable to find the device I used (I could have sworn it had a built-in dot-matrix printer – it couldn’t have been thermal at the time) but found these instead: Epson HX-20 and the more famous… Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100.
I can see the value in these newer offerings: pure typing can be very pleasurable. It’s just you, the machine and your imagination. I do question the screen sizes on both these devices.
Yes, I remember those – seems a strange device now.
It couldn’t store the data you type to a floppy or USB, and it still printed to paper. However it was like a digital type-writer; you typed in a line and could correct that line before it printed as you pressed the carriage return!
1. run word processing software on a computer
2. disconnect said computer from the internet
The screen is that tiny thing in the middle. Bet you thought it’s just an open window on a wide-screen design, as that would make sense, but no. Your phone is most likely bigger than that screen.
Reminds me of mailbug… but a laptop version.
Neat. I can see the need for this, but it seems that it is far too large of a compromise for people that don’t exactly need the “distraction free” aspect of it.
Why not give it some extra features, and make a “lock out” mode.
Hell, why not just make yourself a 2ndary User login for Windows, and restrict the hell out of it?
I don’t think this is for aspiring or amateur writers. This is for dedicated professional writers who have a very specific style that works for them – isolating themselves at a coffee shop or a park, walking out to the middle of the woods or on a dock overlooking a lake, being in a quiet library within their homes, etc. There is clearly a market for people who want a writing-only device that deliberately includes no other functions whatsoever.
Frankly, if you’re suggesting alternatives outside of comparable single-purpose products – you’ve already excluded yourself from the target audience. I’d personally be more interested in something similar-but-different as you suggest, but I’m not the intended user of this specific product.
I have heard of people experimenting with making Raspberry Pi/E-Ink “typewriter” setups, but I don’t think any real solutions exist yet.
Looks like it’s $309 now, and selling quickly.
It wouldn’t work for me personally – I don’t write linearly, so I’d need dedicated arrow and pgup/pgdn keys from a device like this. But I definitely see its appeal.
I get why they made this but wouldn’t a Chromebook/windows laptop with some extensions provide similar distraction free options?
The idea of something like this is that it *forces* the distraction-free environment. On a regular laptop you can turn off your wifi and use a fullscreen editor, but it’s always possible to turn the wifi back on and minimize the editor, even with extensions that purport to make such a thing impossible. Until about 3 years ago I used a Thinkpad X21 manufactured in 2001 as a writing machine, because it didn’t have a wireless card and was dog slow with anything heavier than a text editor. One way to enforce discipline is to make a lack of discipline impossible.
(Also the Traveler weighs 1.8 pounds and has a full-size keyboard, which is a rare combination.)
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