Last year, I tried Freewrite Smart Typewriter – an expensive single-purpose E Ink typewriter that does a great job. It allows you to type text with a wonderful and non-annoying keyboard. If you’re a serious writer, there’s a lot to like about it, but it certainly doesn’t come cheap; Astrohaus, the company behind Freewrite, even raised the price of its products, including the full-size model and Freewrite Traveler portable laptop stylethis early year.
Today though Astrohaus is unveiling a third device they’ve introduced in a few weeks now, the Freewrite Alpha. The most important thing to know is that the Alpha will cost $349 or $249 if you buy through the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that starts today. That’s still not cheap, but it’s half the price of Freewrite Traveler while still offering the same core features as other products in the lineup.
The Freewrite Alpha is a small two-pound slate with a pop-out kickstand that may not be quite as portable as the Traveler, but is still pretty easy to take with you anywhere. Despite its small size, it still features a full-size mechanical keyboard with Kailh Choc V2 low profile switches. I’d guess they’ll have more travel than the laptop-style keyboards on the Traveler, though they probably won’t be quite as satisfying a typing experience as you’ll get with the full Kailh Box Brown keyboard- Smart Typewriter size.
It is also the first Freewrite to use an LCD screen instead of the E Ink screen on other models. It’s a smaller screen compared to the already small screens on other Freewrite models; it can display between two and six lines of text, depending on the font size you use. Since freelance writing devices are specifically designed for drafting instead of editing, this shouldn’t be too much of a concern, but you will see fewer copies on this device than on others. You can scroll up and see what you’ve written and use the WASD keys to move your cursor, but I find that, for the most part, I just go ahead and write.
Astrohaus says that LCDs reflect and use ambient light, so it’s not quite the same as looking at a glowing rectangle like your phone or iPad. But it probably won’t be as easy on the eyes as the E Ink screen on other Freewrites. But on the other hand, the refresh rate will be much faster. In terms of battery life, the Alpha should last around 100 hours. The previous Freewrites did not have a specific battery estimate; Astrohaus only said it was last week between charges.
Alpha has a lot in common with other Freewrite models. Everything you write is automatically saved to your local device and – assuming you connect it to WiFi – everything is also backed up to the cloud and available in the Freewrite Postbox web app. You also don’t need to use this proprietary service, as Alpha can also back up to Evernote, Dropbox, or Google Drive. For the old school among us, you can also connect the Alpha to a computer and pull out files locally via its USB-C port (this port is also used for charging).
If you’re interested, the aforementioned Indiegogo campaign is live now, but the devices are expected to ship until July 2023. That’s a long wait for this product, but the price tag $249 is now a lot more affordable than any of the previous Freewrites – so if this device catches your eye, it might be worth a try on Indiegogo. Although Freewrite devices are expensive, I can say from experience that they can really help you focus on your writing, while keeping you away from your phone, of course.
All products recommended by Engadget are handpicked by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at time of publication.