We’ve mentioned the Freewrite, formerly known as the Hemingwrite, a couple of times—effectively a $500 reimplementation of the AlphaSmart keyboard-and-screen stand-alone word processor, which you can easily find for under a tenth the price on eBay. Well, as news sites like TechCrunch and Engadget are reporting, the beastie’s finally come off the production lines and is now available for pre-order. The price is $449 for the first 24 hours (which you’ve probably already missed by now), then $499 through the end of March, and $549 thereafter.
It frankly puzzles me why anyone would want to spend $500 and up on this boondoggle. I’ll grant that it looks very stylish, and I have no doubt the mechanical keyboard that accounts for part of the ridiculous price tag is a joy to type on. And it’s got various nifty bells and whistles, such as the ability to sync to Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive, that the AlphaSmart doesn’t. If someone took it into their head to give me one (Hey, Freewrite, are you sending out review units?), maybe I might be able to use it, but I’m certainly not going to go sink half a grand into it.
Do you seriously want distraction-free writing time, in the form of a portable solution you can take anywhere? Take a $50 Fire tablet (or whatever other Android tablet or phone you prefer) and a $30 Bluetooth keyboard (and optional ten buck Bluetooth mouse) to your favorite coffeeshop or wherever. Turn on do-not-disturb mode, with notifications off, so you don’t get bothered while you’re writing. Then open up your word processor of choice and write. Since Android doesn’t multitask so well, you won’t have other windows around to distract you, and without notifications on you won’t keep getting buzzed every time someone pings you on Facebook. Plus, you can actually use the device for other things when you’re not writing.
I suppose it’s always possible that the Freewrite could be so handy if I actually had a chance to use it that I might decide it’s worth $500, but the possibility seems vanishingly unlikely. There are lot better things for impoverished writers to spend their money on as far as I’m concerned.