Freewrite Alpha is smaller, cheaper distraction-free writing (maybe too small, probably too expensive)

The folks at Astrohaus have been selling a line of distraction-free writing gadgets under the Freewrite brand for years. Straddling the line between laptops and typewriters, they’re essentially keyboards with black-and-white screens, long battery life, and the ability to save what you write to cloud storage. .

Freewrite devices aren’t cheap though, with prices currently ranging from $499 to $999. Soon there will be another cheaper option. The Freewrite Alpha is a compact writing device that will retail for $349, though backers of an upcoming crowdfunding campaign might get one for less. But it’s an odd little device that might be hard to justify, even at this price.

The Freewrite Alpha is a 320 x 215 x 18mm (12.6″ x 8.5″ x 0.7″) slab device with a mechanical keyboard featuring Kailh chocV2 low-profile switches (and support for other MX-compatible keys). Above the keyboard is a small reflective monochrome FTSN LCD screen. How small? It can display only 6 lines of 15 point text or 4 lines of 26 font text.

Not only do other Freewrite devices have larger screens that can display more lines of text, but they have E Ink screens that provide a more paper-like viewing experience.

Since the Alpha has a reflective screen, it should be viewable outdoors or in brightly lit rooms, but instead of black and white, it’s more of a black and gray experience similar to this you would get from an old fashioned digital watch.

There’s a kickstand that supports the back a bit, giving the keyboard a 15-degree tilt. But since the screen isn’t much higher than the keyboard, you can also strain your neck staring at the screen for an extended period of time.

It’s not like the Freewrite Alpha was the first portable word processor to feature this kind of design. In fact, it wears its inspiration a lot on its sleeve (and preview website URL), borrowing design ideas from the 1990s AlphaSmart device.

The Freewrite Alpha has a few strong points, including a relatively compact portable design and long battery life. It weighs just 2 pounds and Alphahaus says you can expect up to 100 hours of battery life from a 4,200mAh rechargeable battery.

The device has a USB-C port for charging. You can also use it to transfer files to and from the device. And there’s also WiFi support, allowing you to download and install firmware updates or sync files to the cloud.

Alphahaus says the Freewrite Alpha has enough internal storage space for “1 million pages” of text, suggesting it probably only has a few gigabytes of storage, if not that much.

While the Freewrite Alpha will have a retail price of $349, it is expected to be available for $249 and up to early backers of an upcoming Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. To score this prize, you can enter your email address on the Alpha preview page and then reserve one for $1 before the crowdfunding campaign begins.

via Gizmodo, Input and /r/AlphaSmart

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