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The Freewrite Alpha Is Like a Combination of a Laptop and a Typewriter

A year ago, I experimented with the Freewrite Smart Typewriter, a costly, specialized E Ink typewriter that excels at just one thing. You can write flawlessly with its top-notch keyboard while focusing solely on the task at hand.

It has a lot going for it if you’re a dedicated writer, but it won’t come cheap. In fact, Astrohaus, the company that makes the Freewrite, recently increased the cost of its products, including the full-size model and the compact laptop-style Freewrite Traveler.

However, Astrohaus is finally revealing their third device, the Freewrite Alpha, after weeks of teasers. Importantly, the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that begins today will offer the Alpha at a discounted price of $249, bringing the total cost to $349.

It’s still not cheap, but it’s a lot less than the Freewrite Traveler and it has all the essential functions. The Freewrite Alpha is a lightweight slate at about two pounds with a pop-out kickstand, making it not quite as portable as the Traveler but still manageable to bring along virtually anyplace.

And yet, despite its diminutive stature, it sports a full-size mechanical keyboard outfitted with Kailh Choc V2 low-profile switches. They’ll probably have greater key travel than the Traveler’s laptop-style keyboard, but they won’t compare to the Kailh Box Brown keyboard on the full-size Smart Typewriter in terms of typing satisfaction.

In contrast to previous Freewrites, this one has an LCD screen instead of an E Ink display. Displaying anything from two to six lines of text, depending on font size, this screen is even smaller than the ones found on other Freewrite models.

The lack of copy on the Freewrite gadget is not a major issue because it is designed for writing rather than editing. Even though I know I can use the WASD keys to move the cursor and scroll back up to review what I’ve typed, I usually simply dive in and start typing.

According to Astrohaus, the LCD screen is reflective and relies on surrounding light, making the experience different from staring at a luminous rectangle on a mobile device. However, unlike the E Ink displays on previous Freewrites, this one is unlikely to be quite as easy on the eyes.

However, the refresh rate needs to be far faster. Alpha’s battery life is estimated to be around 100 hours. There haven’t been any precise battery life estimates in previous Freewrites; Astrohaus simply claims they last weeks before needing charging again.

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It’s easy to see how the Alpha may be mistaken for any other Freewrite device. Everything you create is stored immediately in the device’s internal memory, and if you connect it to WiFi, it is also synced to the cloud and made accessible on the Freewrite Postbox web app.

The Alpha can also back up to Evernote, Dropbox, or Google Drive, so you aren’t locked into using their own service. If you’re still stuck in the stone age, the Alpha has a USB-C port so you can hook it up to a computer and copy off any local files (this is also used for charging).

The aforementioned Indiegogo campaign is active now if you’re interested, but devices won’t begin shipping until July 2023. That’s a long time to wait, but if the $249 price tag interests you, it’s a significant discount from any previous Freewrite, so check it out on Indiegogo if you’re interested.

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Although Freewrite gadgets are pricey, I can attest to their effectiveness in helping you concentrate on writing—so long as you can resist the temptation to check your phone.

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