The simplicity and form factor of the Freewrite Traveler compounded with the distraction-free aesthetic does making it tempting. But the 400 dollar price tag does give me pause. Then again, I had the same conversation in my head about the Remarkable and it was a great investment for me.

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Okay. A few things come to mind as being potential dealbreakers:

The keyboard on the Traveller is designed to be portable and lightweight, but not great. I know from personal experience that this is not worth the sacrifice. The freewrite offers a mechanical keyboard with cherry mx browns for a bit more money (and weight/size), but I'm thinking that may be worth it.

The thing works on a hing, which could be a potential weak point. The original freewrite is all a single body like the alphasmart, which to me seems like the more durable option. Money aside, this comes down to how important "portability" is going to be.

Latency. Not sure if I could get used to the lag. Then again, most people who write about this thing actually say this sluggishness is actually a feature. Knuth once mentioned in an interview once how he always did a first draft of something (a book OR computer program) with pencil and paper because it worked at the speed of his thinking, and that computers always moved too fast.

So, the original freewrite has opinions about arrow-key navigation and editing. It doesn't have them:

support.getfreewrite.com/artic

A part of me finds this a dealbreaker, but the other part is intrigued. I've never questioned the cursor keys before, but perhaps there is something to that. After all, it's not trying to be a text editor in a box, but a digital typewriter.

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questioning the fundamental nature of arrow keys now. brb.

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FreeWrite thoughts 

Reading more on this, and the biggest dealbreaker seems to be privacy and the cloud. I don't want things on a cloud. I don't want to have to make an account in order to use the damn thing. That's user-hostile, and I'm not paying a premium just to be treated like cattle.

I just emailed their support about it. We'll see what they say.

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@hecanjog Another opponent enters the playing field...

Will think on it.

@paul probably not so useful if the point is to go easily from draft to editing without retyping, but it was very cheap and I could see this being a nice way to brainstorm drafts... (it's also a bit laggy)

can't believe I left it in a closet for six months though, thanks for reminding me I had it :)

@hecanjog Perhaps retyping is overrated? Perhaps lightning fast responsiveness is overrated? Not saying I never want them, but there's definitely something that would happen to the creative process when you take those away.

@hecanjog Back in music school when I was still deluded enough to think I wanted to be an audio engineer, I had a mix teacher of mine say that when ProTools came along, no mixes ever got finished again.

@paul haha, that's pretty great. also seems to check out. i know someone who refuses to mix or touch a DAW ever again because he basically gave himself ptsd from years of endless editing... (so when we record I get DAW/editing duty)

FreeWrite thoughts 

@paul I look forward to you cobbling together your own solution shortly.

FreeWrite thoughts 

@jonbro Is that a dare

FreeWrite thoughts 

@paul you aren't the first person to express interest in "freewrite, but less shitty". Not just generally, but today. and I gotta say it seems like a doable problem.

FreeWrite thoughts 

@jonbro Unfortunately, when it comes to hardware, I'm all thumbs. I could maybe hack together a software solution on a stripped down Linux distro like monolinux or alpine, but it wouldn't be the same.

FreeWrite thoughts 

@paul yeah, fair enough. It's a deep well and identifying that you don't want to fall into it is a good skill. Let me know if you are curious though, I'm happy to point you to some starting spots.

FreeWrite thoughts 

@jonbro
Quite curious. Point away.

FreeWrite thoughts 

@paul this guide is a bit out of date, but hits the high level stuff https://github.com/ruiqimao/keyboard-pcb-guide

Also, you are probably gonna want a nicer core in there than the pro micro or in addition to the pro micro. The adafruit feathers come in tons of flavors, some with WiFi and Bluetooth if you want to go that direction.

FreeWrite thoughts 

@paul my first big PCB design project was basically a thing that wired together a bunch of adafruit modules. Id suggest doing that as much as possible, because the tradeoffs (larger size and slightly higher prices) tend to be worth it.

FreeWrite thoughts 

@paul also, all the adafruit stuff fits into a breadboard, so you can confirm your stuff works before you get your boards manufactured.

I get my stuff done in China by jlcpcb, but oshpark is a good American option, tho the prices are quite a bit higher.

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