The Freewrite Traveler is the latest E INK typewriter on the market. We reviewed a similar product in 2018, from the same company, the 2nd generation Freewrite. This new model is pocket friendly and has a hinge, so it can be closed, like a clamshell. The keyboard from the original model was mechanical, but I am not a real big fan of this kind of design. The Traveler employs a scissor switch keyboard, which is similar to the Macbook Pro and Macbook Air.
The Freewrite Traveler features a 4.76 primary display and a 2.76 inches writing window. They both utilize E INK E-paper and the refresh rate on entered text is pretty solid. The smaller writing window can display a myriad of information, such as folder information, a clock, or even word count and “reading time” based on standard reading speeds. The device boots instantly upon opening, giving you a stark white e-ink page. If you have it paired to a wifi access point then sending your documents to your email inbox in text and PDF format is also instantaneous. It was a USB-C port for charging to a wall outlet or connected to your PC/MAC.
One of the downsides of the screen is that it does not have a front-light, so you will have to write during the day or make sure there is enough environmental light, such as a lamp or overhead light to write with. It would have been nice if they could have included 10 white LED lights to write at night.
The Traveler is billed as a distraction free experience. You can’t check your email, factcheck on Wikipedia, access social media or launch any apps. It is really a singular purpose device, a writing tool, to write a novel or a short story. Using the Traveler is pretty simple. You open up the lid and start typing. If you don’t speak English, no worries. There are keyboard layouts for German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, Greek, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, Korean, Chinese, Japanese. See a list of keyboard layouts here.
The Traveler adds a couple of new software features, you have the option to move your cursor around a document, rather than forcing users to either erase mistakes with the backspace key or forge straight ahead like they’d do on a traditional typewriter. It’s still inconvenient enough to discourage heavy editing, and you can’t copy and paste text, only insert or delete words. But it’s helpful for going back to fix typos or add a thought to an earlier paragraph. The cursor is controlled by hitting W, A, S, or D in conjunction with a key. The original Freewrite used a satisfying physical toggle to swap between folders, but the Traveler uses three tiny buttons that don’t indicate which draft is currently active.
How do you save your files? You can do it locally, but you want to signup for a Postbox account, which is the Freewrite’s online document storage system, allowing you to sync your drafts and view them when you get back to a real computer. Postbox can then send documents to your choice of Evernote, Dropbox or Google Drive. If you are writing out at a cabin or somewhere where there is not WIFI, you can save your work locally and sync to the cloud, whenever you eventually hit a WIFI area.
I think the Freewrite Traveler is a solid item if you are the type of person that writes for a living and wants an E INK screen, that is easy on the eyes for long writing sessions. This is one of the things that all of the other reviews have missed, lots of people have vision or neurological disorders and simply cannot stare at an LCD or OLED screen for a long period of time. E INK also provides the benefit of long battery life, since this thing is basically just a word processor, a typical charge lasts you over a month. It also absorbs light, so you can type on it under direct sunlight and the screen will be clear.
This neat product comes at a cost, it is almost $500, which is fairly expensive. Still, if you write for a living, such as novels, novellas, short-stories, this could be a totally viable product. Since I blog every day on Good e-Reader, I would need something that has a browser, which can fact-check or conduct research on stories and articles.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.