We see a lot of ridiculous tech products in our inboxes — everything from a connected toothbrush to a belt that loosens as you eat too much. But the Freewrite, which calls itself the “world’s first smart typewriter,” is ridiculous on another level.
The Freewrite is a $500 word processor. The device, which has Wi-Fi, a 5.5-inch e-ink screen and a mechanical keyboard, is designed to be a single-purpose writing tool. Files on the device are stored in plain text and can sync with Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote.
Basically, it’s like a number of distraction-free writing apps that already exist for iOS, Android, Chrome and OS X — but in a device that weighs four pounds (slightly less than a Macbook pro) and has a tiny screen. For the same price, you could have a 16GB iPad Air 2.
The device — intitally called the Hemingwrite — raised nearly $350,000 on Kickstarter at the end of 2014.
Today, the Freewrite is available for pre-order in a 24-hour flash sale for $449. The price will go up to $550, and is expected to start shipping in March.
We appreciate that there is a niche group of writers who will want something like the Freewrite. There are plenty in the media who love the idea. But we still can’t wrap our minds around a $500 word processor in 2016.
When one considers that similar devices, such as the Alphasmart Neo are closer to $50 — albeit without cloud connectivity — charging this much money for this type of product seems insane.
When the news was posted to our Slack channel, we couldn’t stop talking about just how much dumb this entire idea is. Below is a lightly-edited transcript of our reaction:
Christina and Karissa attempt to understand why this exists
Christina: Let’s talk about what this is. This is a four pound typewriter with a tiny electronic screen, Wi-Fi and the ability to save text files to your Dropbox account. Am I missing anything?
Karissa: Yup, it’s basically a word processor. Remember those?
Christina: Vaguely. My mom and dad had one in the 80s. And then we got Windows 3.11 like everyone else.
Karissa: Yeah, because everyone realized computers are superior technology. And typing on a tiny screen is painful.
Christina: It’s totally painful. And while I understand the need for distraction writing tools — there is an entire ecosystem of Mac and iPad apps for that very person. Byword, Drafts, Write, Hanx Write, Focused. I could go on. There are literally dozens of distraction free apps.