Technology The Freewrite typewriter gets a smaller design with a...

The Freewrite typewriter gets a smaller design with a drastic price reduction


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The Freewrite Alpha typewriter | Image: Free Writing

If you’re intrigued by the high-tech Freewrite typewriter but put off by the price tag, then the new design from manufacturer Astrohaus (maybe) is for you. Astrohaus is opening pre-orders for the Freewrite Alpha, a lower-profile version of the first-generation device. Like the original Freewrite, it’s billed as a distraction-free writing tool that syncs wirelessly with services like Google Drive or Dropbox, but for $349 (or $249 for early orders) instead of Freewrite’s original $649 price tag. A Indiegogo campaign launches today with a July 2023 ship date.

The Alpha looks very different from the giant original Freewrite or the $499 portable Freewrite Traveler 2020, both of which are still being sold post-release. At 1.9 pounds, it’s slightly heavier than the Traveler, but about half the weight of the original. It has a round, gritty look instead of the Traveler’s original black or smooth white. It swaps out the E Ink screen for a reflective monochromatic LCD and Astrohaus promises a dramatically extended 100 hours of battery life. (Previous generations offer a somewhat sketchy four-week battery life based on 30 minutes of daily use.) Like previous iterations, it charges over USB-C and syncs over a cable or 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection.

An overhead view of the Freewrite Alpha
Image: Free Writing
The Alpha uses an LCD panel instead of an E Ink panel.

Astrohaus thankfully brings back mechanical switches for the Alpha keyboard, something it left for the Traveler. The third-generation keyboard uses Kailh choc V2 low-profile switches, a slimmer alternative to the first-generation Kailh Box Brown switches and an upgrade of Traveler’s scissor switches.

Astrohaus announced the Alpha earlier this month, and I was skeptical at first, in part because of its obvious resemblance to a Formica worksheet. While the Freewrite is primarily billed as a distraction-free writing experience, most people don’t spend hundreds of dollars on a typewriter unless they really enjoy typing, and part of the appeal of the first-generation Freewrite is how unabashedly luxurious it is. feels. The Traveler suffered a lot from compromising that experience, and I’m not sure a model at nearly half the price (even if it’s still a splurge) can capture the original feel.

But the mechanical switches are a step in the right direction, and ditching the E Ink screen might not be a bad idea; while it was nicely glare-free, the delay could be viscerally distracting. Fortunately, the Alpha also allows you to move your cursor freely around a document, a feature that Astrohaus added with the Traveler. I even get by on the gray pebble pattern, though it’s hard to judge without seeing it in person.

The Freewrite Alpha from the side.
Image: Free Writing
The Freewrite Alpha from the side.

Overall, the Alpha’s design is basically a high-end AlphaSmart, a loved but discontinued line of portable word processors. Astrohaus doesn’t shy away from this comparison: In addition to the obvious similarity in the name, it bought as a landing page, and the press release quotes AlphaSmart co-founder Ketan Kothari with some tentative praise. (“We’re honored by the Alpha name and could see Alpha pick up where AlphaSmart products left off in education.”)

Am I obligated to inform you that eBay sells used AlphaSmart keyboards for a fraction of the price of the Alpha? I believe so. Despite owning a functional, first-generation Freewrite that I love but rarely use, am I still somehow tempted to shell out money for the Alpha? I will guiltily admit that I am.

Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.


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