Astrohaus, the company behind the Freewrite, launched a new crowd-sourcing campaign today for the Traveler. The e-ink writing laptop, billed as the ultimate distraction-free writing tool reached its funding goal in less than 30 minutes. At the time I'm writing this, the campaign is at 324% funding.
I wrote about setting up a Scrivener laptop as a dedicated writing tool. A dedicated, zero-distraction tool for writing can be a big boon for productivity. Unfortunately, it's easy to give in to distractions on such a device. It's the matter of a moment to open a web browser or other applications. The Traveler looks to be just what I've wanted since first holding an e-ink ereader.
Does it hold up to my hopes? I can't know for sure. Let's take a look at what the Traveler offers.
The Traveler is the successor to the Freewrite Smart Typewriter. The Freewrite is billed as the distraction-free writing tool. It features:
The Freewrite met most of the features I wanted in a dedicated writing tool. Except the form factor. I wanted something smaller and more portable.
The Traveler builds off the success of the Freewrite. It expands on the strengths of the Freewrite with a new more portable design.
Before I saw the Traveler, I had imagined what I'd like in a writing tool. I wanted a compact, clamshell sort of device. E-ink, long battery life, and a plain text file format (with markdown support) that I could easily use with other programs. I wanted it dedicated to writing. I wanted it to work offline but have the ability to sync to cloud storage solutions. In my thoughts about the ideal device, I called it the Write Away. Maybe that's groan-worthy, but I liked the name.
Laptops are more complicated. Wake them up, launch applications, shut off distractions, and make sure you don't use them somewhere with too much sunlight or you can't see the screen. Looking into a computer screen all day increases your exposure to blue light.
I wanted something simple. Something that I could use for first drafts without distractions.
As it turns out, Astrohaus designed a device that fits what I imagined with the Write Away. Spooky, how close their design is, and it's great to see how they've evolved concepts developed with the Freewrite to create the Traveler. The campaign site provides detailed descriptions the features and benefits of using the Traveler. For me, it looks like a dream come true. It might not be for everyone (I've seen comments from people wanting a bigger screen), but to me it looks great.
I can't say that the Traveler is exactly what I imagined—I haven't actually used one yet. The production timeline shows the first batch shipping next year. Even so, I was one of the first ten people to support the campaign. At this point, the Traveler has nearly 600 backers and is approaching 400% funding. I'm looking forward to doing some writing on it next year.
Until then? I'll continue working with my laptop while I picture hanging out in my hammock next summer, a Traveler at hand while I write a new book or story.
Ryan M. Williams lives a double life as a full-time career librarian and a multi-genre writer with over twenty books. He writes across a range of genres including science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, mystery, horror, and romance. He earned a Master of Arts degree in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University and a Master of Library and Information Science from San Jose University. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies from Pocket Books, WMG Publishing, and in On Spec Magazine.