The Retro Freewrite May Just Be the Ultimate Word Processor

5 YEARS AFTER the birth of the laptop computer and 25 years after Wi-Fi was invented, someone finally may have built the ultimate word processor.

The Freewrite, which was called the Hemingwrite when it was introduced to the world in a very successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2014, is a portable mechanical keyboard with a small e-ink display on it. You can save your documents directly to Freewrite’s onboard storage, but it also has Wi-Fi connectivity that allows you to save to the cloud. Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive are supported at launch, with iCloud coming soon.

The thing you can’t do is browse the web, and that’s by design. It’s just you, the Freewrite, and a blank piece of e-paper.

The thing you can’t do is browse the web, and that’s by design.

At a time when our gadgets are supposed to do everything, the Freewrite may seem like a technological step backward. For most people, the prospect of spending hundreds of dollars on a throwback device seems foolish. But if you’re a writer, you probably get it. Writers are a sensitive lot; it’s why they move to remote cabins. With all the distractions on the Internet, sometimes it’s hard to exercise self-control. Exhibit A? All those open browser tabs. They make writing on a web-connected laptop as easy as trying to meditate in a casino.

“We are quickly seeing people becoming more disenchanted than ever with the nag of constant consumption,” explains Adam Leeb, co-founder of Freewrite manufacturer Astrohaus. “Everyone, particularly the millennial generation, understands that we now have to fight for our own attention from the outside world. Instead of allowing it to be a general purpose computer, we focused on one purpose, making the best possible writing experience.”

The experience starts with a full-size mechanical keyboard, one built on top of wonderfully clacky Cherry MX Brown switches. Right above it, a smartphone-size e-ink display. It’s a durable machine, with an aluminum body and an honest-to-goodness handle that flips out from under the display. You don’t need to upload to the cloud; you can also save “over one million pages” of documents in plain text format to the Freewrite’s internal drive.

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