Gadget crowdfunding is great for fulfilling niche demands. Most people, for instance, would never buy a $599 Wi-Fi-enabled typewriter.
Today, the company starts shipping the Freewrite Traveler, a lighter laptop-like alternative. The same price as the Freewrite. For that price, you get a 1.6-pound notebook with a single purpose: letting you type words and send them to a Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, or dedicated Freewrite cloud storage account.
The Traveler has two key advantages over the Freewrite: it’s easier to carry, and you can use it in public without feeling criminally pretentious. Otherwise, its writing workflow is pretty similar. Documents are organized into three folders, so you can swap between three drafts at a time.
If you’ve turned on the device’s Wi-Fi, it will periodically sync these to a cloud storage inbox that you can access from an ordinary computer. You can also hit a “Send” key to email your currently active draft to yourself as a rich text file. It’s nearly seamless and infinitely easier than transferring an actual vintage word processor file to a modern computer.
The Traveler doesn’t have the luxurious heft of the original Freewrite, either. Its scissor-switch keys feel perfectly fine for a laptop — especially if you’re used to Apple’s shallow butterfly keyboard. But they’re not as much fun to hit as the Freewrite’s Cherry mechanical switches. Meanwhile, its lightweight design is great for carrying, but it doesn’t sit as firmly in your lap.
The overall Traveler experience feels, well, like a ‘90s word processor instead of a typewriter. It’s a little more complicated and a little less charming. But its appeal would still be clear, if not for one thing: the screen.
With a better screen and a permanently lower price, the Freewrite Traveler would be a great little experiment in single-purpose electronics.