“Freewrite Traveler is a unique writing tool that helps you draft your own words. “But it is a niche product for a very niche audience and it costs more.”
feels great typing on the keyboard
Super compact and light weight
distraction free writing
long battery life
easy to install
Syncs with third-party cloud services
cumbersome to navigate
there is a learning curve
I have always liked writing. When I was a little kid, I loved reading books and writing my own stories, no matter how silly they were. Even if they were never read by others, I loved the act of writing and getting my words flowing. English was my favorite subject in school because I loved reading, writing and analyzing.
Fast forward to today and I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to do what I love as a career. Here, I write about mobile tech, but when I’m on vacation, I also enjoy jotting down my thoughts in a journal, whether it’s in an actual notebook with pen on paper or my iPhone 15. Be it on Pro or Computer.
But one downside about using those things to write (besides the actual pen and paper) is that there are so many other things that can distract you from your words: social media, YouTube, email, messages, Notifications, tasks, etc. I’m a person who gets easily distracted, so sometimes it’s difficult for me to write consistently, especially on my Mac.
I recently came across the Astrohaus Freewrite family of writing products when I saw someone in my Mastodon timeline talking about new limited-edition colors for the smart typewriter. I discovered that the company had a whole range of writing tools for different occasions, all with a focus on distraction-free writing, and the FreeWrite Traveler immediately appealed to me.
So, is this little distraction-free writing tool worth the hefty $500 price tag? let’s find out.
A gadget made just for writing
The Freewrite Traveler looks like a very small laptop. It’s about the size of a standard laptop keyboard you’ll find inside, as well as an e-ink display on the other half of the clamshell.
When the Freerite Traveler is folded, it is relatively small and should fit into a backpack or laptop bag without any problems. Or you can just carry it around. It’s also very light at just 1.6 pounds. Overall product dimensions are 11.3 x 5.0 x 0.97 inches.
The body of the Freerite Traveler is made of glossy black polycarbonate material, which I’m not a big fan of as it easily attracts fingerprints and stains. On the top lid, you’ll find the “Freewrite” logo in the center.
On the inside, there’s a full-size scissor-switch keyboard with low-profile keys. But unlike most laptop scissor-switch keyboards, the Freewrite Traveler has about 2mm of travel, so it feels a little better than the older MacBook scissor-switch keys. I still prefer a true mechanical keyboard, but during my time spent with the Traveler, its keyboard was nice enough to type on.
There are some unique buttons above the number row on the keyboard. On the left side are three “Folder” buttons that allow you to switch between the folders where you’re saving your drafts, the power button, and three more buttons for Wi-Fi (on, off, and to connect to a new network. For). The power button, as well as the two “new” keys on the keyboard, are in an attractive red color that matches well with the white body. All these buttons are tactile and have a very satisfying click when pressed.
The Freewrite Traveler charges via USB-C, and you can find the port for it on the left side, similar to a laptop. You get a USB-C cable in the box, but no power adapter. A single charge should get about four weeks of runtime, which makes sense considering this is a low-power e-ink display.
The USB-C port can be used for offline data transfer on a computer as well as for peripherals such as an external keyboard.
Stealing a page from a Kindle book
The display of the Freerite Traveler is the most unique thing about the device. It uses e-ink technology (similar to the Kindle) and is easy to view in virtually any lighting conditions, even direct sunlight. However, there’s no backlight, so it’s not as easy to see in low-light environments.
Although the Traveler is about 11 inches long and 5 inches tall, the e-ink display is actually much smaller than that. The display’s writing canvas is 121mm x 70mm, and the status window below it is just 121mm x 15mm. You can adjust the size of on-screen text, which changes the amount of text that is displayed on the screen at once. The small status window will show you the date of your draft by default, but you can also see the reading time so far for your text, as well as various bits like character and word count.
Although the display looks good, it is definitely a bit small compared to the actual size of the device. There’s a lot of unused space on half of the display that seems wasted, and honestly, the display might have been easier to see if it was larger.
Why does Freewrite Traveler work so well
If you’re looking for a distraction-free writing tool to help you just sit down and write, FreeWrite Traveler is great for the job.
Traveler is easy to install and only takes a few minutes. You’ll need to set up a Postbox account to use Freewrite products, but it’s (thankfully) free. Postbox is Freewrite’s cloud application that lets you configure your device’s settings and access your documents. It’s also the bridge to syncing your Freewrite Traveler (or other Freewrite devices) with a third-party cloud service – like Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, or Microsoft One Drive. Once you’ve set up Postbox, it’s fairly easy.
With the Internet being so available, I get easily distracted while writing on my computer. Freewrite Traveler is helpful when I just want to sit somewhere and write. I find this amazing, because it allows me to flow my words through the keyboard and onto the e-ink display. Typing on the integrated scissor-switch keyboard also feels nice.
Personally, I think if I were working on a novel or short story, Freewrite Traveler would be incredible for helping me prepare a draft. Unfortunately, I’m a little rusty when it comes to creative writing, so I’ve mostly used Traveler as a little journal. It’s great for helping me get my random thoughts out of my head and onto the screen.
I also like how it seamlessly syncs your drafts with your third-party cloud-syncing service of choice. I set up my setup with Dropbox, as I’ve been using it for everything for years. As long as it’s connected to Wi-Fi, your drafts are synced. Even if you’re writing on it without Wi-Fi, the next time it connects, your drafts and any changes and edits will be uploaded.
The Freerite Traveler also has excellent battery life. On a single charge it will last for about four full weeks, depending on how often you use it. And it is relatively small and so light that it is easy to carry it with you anywhere. Just open it and start writing.
If you’re looking for a similar writing tool, the Freewrite Traveler is great.
Some things that can be improved
I think the biggest feature of the Freewrite Traveler is the size of the e-ink display. Compared to the overall size of the device, the display is quite small, as it is surrounded by a lot of wasted white space. I really wish the display was wider, even if just a little. This helps you see more of what you’ve written, which I like.
While the e-ink display is very easy to see in good lighting conditions, I also wish it had a backlight for when you want to write in a darker environment. For example, I like to write down my thoughts before bed, but I don’t like to have a lot of lights on at that time. By the way, using the Traveler in bed is a bit difficult without the backlit display.
I’ve also noticed that if you type quickly there is a slight delay in your words appearing on the display. Of course, this is due to the e-ink technology, but it’s still a little irritating. I know I make some mistakes while typing, but I won’t be able to see them unless the display catches my typing. And I like to fix my typos while I’m typing, so it slows me down. I know the purpose of the device is to reduce drafts, but it irritates me whenever I see typo errors.
Speaking of, Traveler doesn’t have any kind of spell checking as you type. This can result in more work when it comes to editing your draft. I noticed that drafts are saved in .docx format, which I don’t like very much. I personally prefer to write in plain text, so I would prefer to choose the file format to save the draft.
Navigating in your drafts is also a bit cumbersome as there are no arrow keys. Instead, to move the cursor around, you must press the W (up), S (down), A (left), or D (right) keys along with the new keys to move one character one space. One of them has to be pressed. Time. You can also press PG UP or PG DN to move up or down one screen. If you spot a typo and need to fix it right away, navigate the same way. Traveler was not for editing, only for formatting, so it’s best for your discretion to try not to do too much with it.
In the end, I think the Freerite Traveler is a little overpriced. I believe that if you are a serious writer and are using it to prepare your next novel, it may be worth the cost. However, if you’re just a casual writer who wants fewer distractions, the $500 cost is a little hard to swallow.
Should you spend $500 on writing equipment?
If you do a lot of creative writing for fiction, short stories, novels, poetry, journaling, etc., Freewrite Traveler is a great tool. There are no distractions to stop you from getting your words out, and typing on the keyboard feels great. Setup is easy and your drafts automatically sync with your favorite cloud service, so you can do your editing on your computer.
However, it is still a very niche product. I enjoyed using it, but for the type of writing I do on a daily basis, it didn’t fit well into my workflow. I need to format my articles, I have pages I need to reference regularly, and I edit as I go. But for my journaling needs, it’s great! I’m not sure it’s $500 cool.
For most people, I think your money would be better spent buying a tablet or laptop. But if you’re serious about drafting your next book, Freewrite Traveler is worth considering. It’s weird, weird, and unlike anything else out there.
You can purchase the Freerite Traveler directly from the Freerite website for $500 (plus shipping) or on Amazon for $529 with free shipping.