Four years ago, New York/Detroit-based startup Astrohaus released the Freewrite, a "smart" electronic typewriter designed for distraction-free writing. Now, the company is crowdfunding the 50-percent smaller and lighter Traveler laptop – and its big selling point is what it can't do.
Traveler users aren't able to partake in distracting activities such as surfing the internet, using apps or playing games. Really, just about all that they can do is type in text. That said, Markdown syntax is supported, so rich formatting can be used for things like headings, bullet points and italics. Functions such as copy-and-paste and spellcheck, however, are not supported.
Text appears on a 6-inch ambient-light E Ink screen, and is continuously auto-saved to an internal flash drive that can hold over a million pages. Later, that data can be transferred over to a conventional laptop or desktop computer via a USB cable, then finessed using a regular word processing program.
Additionally, if users have access to a Wi-Fi network as they're writing, they can securely save their text to Astrohaus' Postbox web application, or to the cloud-based Dropbox, Evernote or Google Drive services. It's also possible for them to send their current document to their home email address.
For writers who need some extra motivation, a secondary status screen can be used to announce when they've reached a certain word-count, or have worked for a given amount of time. There is no trackpad or mouse, with arrow keys on the typewriter-like tactile keyboard being used to move the cursor.
Measuring just 12 x 5 x 1 inches (302 x 127 x 25 mm), the Traveler is about half the size of a full-function laptop. It weighs 1.8 lb (0.8 kg), and can reportedly run for approximately 30 hours on one charge of its lithium-ion battery.
If you're interested, it's currently the subject of an Indiegogo campaign. A pledge of US$329 will get you one, when and if it reaches production – the planned retail price is $599.
The Freewrite Traveler can be seen in use, in the video below.
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