Freewrite Traveler eink smart typewriter open for preorder at indiegogo $329

Discussion in 'Headline News' started by Mi An, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. Mi An

    Mi An Nexus Refugee

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    Not to be outdone by Hook, I bought myself a Thinkpad tablet folio keyboard from a 2012 thinkpad android tablet on ebay. The selling point for me is thinkpad + usb interface in a fairly contained package. As a bonus, it's a rare thinkpad keyboard with optical trackpoint, which no one else seems to like but I love. I plan to use some sugru to mount something inside of it for eventual outdoor typing for my own less restrictive, if also less cool, eink word processor. The lack of a good hinge is the biggest downside to me, but it was only $20.

    As to what eink device would go inside of it, I'll probably be looking for a bargain as much as anything. It's not something I plan to use all the time, just computing in sunshine. Last year I remember seeing a yotaphone 2 go on sale for about $120, I drooled for a moment remembering when it first come out 4 or 5 years earlier at $900 msrp, but couldn't think of a use for the aging hardware and passed. Oh how I wish I hadn't. That price is practically the cost of the tiny eink display, and android ereaders with crappier chipsets (albeit, with bigger, newer screens as well) sell for far more. Not a great phone, but would be a pretty decent word processor and would probably even get better battery life than all but the most massive of ereaders I've looked at.

    My old onyx boox afterglow 2 had horrendous battery life owing to the manufacturer's incompetence, used as much juice idling as it did in active use. I bet the phone would idle better. In any case, options range from about $200 to $800 (the onyx boox max 2 is pretty cool, 13" android tablet but can also function as a display via hdmi for anything, including windows), but none are quite a match for me, so I'm just keeping my eyes open. Raspberry pi, phones, anything is possible.

    All told, I now have 5 thinkpad keyboards. 3 attachments for my helix 2 (2 pro keyboards with extra battery+hinge+trackpoint, 1 normal w/o those but with a stylus silo), a thinkpad tablet 2 bluetooth board that I used with my little dell venue 8 pro and first introduced me to the optical trackpoint, and now this thinkpad tablet folio. I prefer to think of myself as a perfectly sane collector, though a psychiatrist might have another perspective. Good thing I can't afford a psychiatrist! :newpalm:
     
  2. Hook

    Hook Phone Killer ;-) Arrrrr...f

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    I love thinkpad keyboards and use the BT one with my Samsung tablet, though again, I wish it would attach as securely as the keyboard cover I have for it. I too love the optical trackpoint. Looking forward to what you end up putting together. :newpalm:
     
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  3. Mi An

    Mi An Nexus Refugee

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    Got my thinkpad folio today. It was sold as used, but mostly has shelf wear, no apparent wear from use. Actual keyboard feels perfect, same experience as... my other 4 nearly identical thinkpad keyboards. :vboops: The folio has three angles it can lean a display at, attaching magnetically to three slots at the base, which is kind of a nice touch. It's not a hinge, but it beats a lot of the generic keyboard folios I've looked at on amazon/ebay.

    I might someday attempt to jailbreak my old kindle 4. Someone actually wrote a vnc viewer for kindle so it could be used as an external display. But what I've read so far, well, it all seems a bit complicated, and even if I can get through the right instructions for my kindle, I wonder if it would even work peer-to-peer (phone to kindle) without an intermediate router between them. If I set my phone up as a hotspot while at the park and connected the kindle to it, would it be able to see the vnc server (of which there are precious few for android, some with reviews claiming they used to work, but no longer do on new versions of android) on my phone?

    Before discovering the vnc viewer I imagined utilizing something called kindleberry pi, a raspberry pi connected to a jailbroken kindle and my phone and the keyboard and a battery pack to power the pi. A glorious mess of cables the likes of which would make a plate of spaghetti say, "whoa, that's kind of a mess." Frankenfreewrite, I dubbed this concept. While trying to imagine what it would all look like, I increasingly pictured something that looked like it was assimilated by the borg. The kindle vnc viewer would greatly simplify things if it could actually work, though I'm not super optimistic. Probably too good to be true. Would bring my costs down to the $20 keyboard and a $5 cable.

    In use, I had my dell venue pro fall forward a number of times and clatter against my hands or the keys. Eventually I used some velcro tape to sorta temporarily fasten it in position to prevent falls. It was not an elegant solution, but it held me over until I could get some more integrated. On the move, having separate pieces to hold together presented challenges as well. Love my thinkpad helix 2. And I can definitely appreciate how the freewrite traveler would be a nice super portable handy thing to grab and go anywhere.
     
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  4. Mi An

    Mi An Nexus Refugee

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  5. Hook

    Hook Phone Killer ;-) Arrrrr...f

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    One surprising thing they already got wrong on the Traveler: There is no front or back light on the screen. The Freewrite has a front light on the screen. Why would you create an alleged "Write Anywhere" device with an eInk screen that has no illumination for low light. They have had push back on that, but as with arrow keys on the Freewrite (The Traveler does have software enabled arrow keys), once they decide something, no amount of feedback sways them. The mantra is (they always have a mantra for features they don't want to include): "the device was not designed with a front light in mind, and adding a front light would also add costs that were not incorporated into the cost of the Traveler."

    Really? You are expecting to retail this device at $599 (after the crowd funding) and you can't include a friggin' light on the eInk screen?

    Actually, I suspect the $599 price was calculated to hedge against possible rising costs due to tariffs. Would not surprise me if the final price ends up being lower (they will probably claim you are getting a discount).

    Still, the thing that bothers me most is their Postbox layer. You have to go through their servers, to get to other cloud services or to actually get to the settings for the software. What are they going to try to sell me later in order to use my typewriter I bought from them? Why else would they invest in a server farm and force people to have an account. In truth it's less than a Chromebook's dependence on Google, but it just seems weird for a manufacturer to do it. And if they go out of business?

    I think I've decided that, although the execution will be less than perfect, I can't pass up the concept at $299, but the "Cancel Contribution" button will be there 14 more days (When the crowd funding phase ends, you can no longer get refunds through IGG).
     
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