The Hemingwrite Retro Word Processor Hits Kickstarter

hemingwrite 1Remember that nifty looking retro word processor I found a couple months back? It went up for pre-order today in a Kickstarter campaign.

If you have $400 to throw down and act fast, you too can get in line to receive a Hemingwrite when it ships in September 2015. I won’t be bothering, but it is a groovy gadget.

Based around a 6″ E-ink screen, the Hemingwrite comes with Bluetooth, Wifi, a month-long battery life, storage for a million plus pages of text, and not much else.

The Hemingwrite is built for a single purpose – to write – and to that end it also will also ship with support for syncing your work with your favorite cloud apps (Evernote and Google Docs integration will be supported, at a minimum). Weighing in at 4 pounds, it’s about the size of an old, old notebook – only much lighter. It’s chief feature is the 78-key keyboard, which is designed to offer a satisfying tactile and audio feedback when your fingers hit the keys.

And for those who want to show off their trophy gadget while on the go, the Hemingwrite also has a handle:


That strikes me as a great way to destroy a $400 gadget, but what do I know.

I won’t be getting a Hemingwrite, but I can see how it might be useful. I’d like to see someone explore the possibility of using this in conjunction with a smartphone for mobile blogging. A blogger could bang out a story on the Hemingwrite, sync it with their smartphone, and then upload the text (along with photos taken with the smartphone) so a co-worker can polish the story and publish it.

Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as useful as a laptop (on a BT keyboard paired with said smartphone), but I can see the appeal.

hemingwrite lap

But I still won’t be getting one. At 4 pounds and $400, the Hemingwrite is going to compete with my next laptop for both the space in my gear bag and for the dollars in my pocket, and I don’t have enough of either space or money to be able to get both a laptop and a Hemingwrite.

It’s shiny, yes, but I will have to admire it from afar.

But for the sake of curiosity, I will be getting a poor man’s Hemingwrite. The  Alphasmart Neo is an older, cheaper, keyboard-sized word processor which can do pretty much the same thing as the Hemingwrite (aside from the wireless connectivity). Powered by AA batteries, the Neo can be found for under $30 on Ebay.

It’s not nearly as cool-looking as the Hemingwrite, but the Neo is light enough that I could potentially carry it in the same gear bag as my laptop. That is woth a lot to me.

But that’s just me; what do you think of the Hemingwrite?


Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Mackay Bell10 December, 2014

    Yeah, about $300 too much. For $99 bucks I might buy one to just play with it.

    1. Nate Hoffelder10 December, 2014

      And the retail will be over $500.

  2. David William Edwards10 December, 2014

    Too expensive and not enough difference to the Neo. At that price you can buy a lot of great laptops or Chromebooks.

    1. Nate Hoffelder10 December, 2014

      Heck, you can by 2 decent Chromebooks for the KS price.

  3. Chris Meadows10 December, 2014

    Clearly meant for people with more money than sense.

  4. Mackay Bell10 December, 2014

    That being said, I have long wondered if the technology has advanced to the point where there can be a small market for unusual (kind of goofy) laptops. Ones that can do just enough to get by for a trip to the coffee shop, but aren’t really serious computers.

    This thing isn’t distinctive enough to justify the price. But I might pay $400 for a really cool looking steampunk laptop. Or a retro Jetson’s space age one. Kind of toys for adults (overaged geeks with money). All it would need to do pretty much is surf the web and handle emails and light word processing. Kind of like a Chromebook but with a really cool design. Very long battery life (epaper?) would also be a plus.

    I loved the look of the eMate 300 and desperately tried to find a use for it, but it just couldn’t do much. But these days you can get basic computer functions in sub $100 tablets so it seems like adding a keyboard and a fancy case would be easy.

    1. Will Entrekin10 December, 2014

      I was thinking the same thing. Like, an Apple bluetooth keyboard hot-wired to some Android e-ink tablet with all its wireless except bluetooth disabled, and an SD card.

      The Hemingwrite is at least $400 too expensive retail.

    2. Nate Hoffelder10 December, 2014

      At times like this I am reminded of the HP Jornada 720, one of the last of the HPCs. With a 6″ screen and a compressed keyboard, it was pocketable and immensely useful. Now that is something that needs to be brought back, only with a 6″ E-ink screen.

      It’s a pity no one has built one; I’d buy it.

      1. patrick watson11 December, 2014

        That would be the holy grail of devices to me.

  5. Thomas11 December, 2014

    It’s hard for me to believe this is already almost 80 percent of the way to its funding goal. To me it’s really overpriced for something so limited.

    1. Nate Hoffelder11 December, 2014

      They had a good marketing campaign.

  6. Juan Chulilla11 December, 2014

    I have an alphasmart neo and the keyboard is neat and the display is usable. It is also as hard as a brick. It offer the same as this stupid device… and, at the end, I don’t use it too much.

    Why? Because limitations. Limitations were understandable in 1998, but not now. I mean, if I write on the device and then I have to use a smartphone, then it’s better to use a good bluetooth keyboard with the smartphone, which is what I do. I carry always with me an astounding iGo stowaway, one of the few keyboards that don’t lose valor with the years. That thing has a soviet-like building quality.

    I think that, at least, a good ereader should have access to a browser in order to use certain web apps for writing. email would be useful too. I mean, distractions-free environment is more dependant of the user’s will rather than of hard restrictions.

    Finally, 2Kg are just crazy. I would enjoy to use a cherry-switched keyboard on the run, but not carrying 2kg

  7. Name Required11 December, 2014

    Just get (or pull out of drawer) a bluetooth keyboard and pair it with that Onyx e-ink reader running Android.

    Or get a real thing – a Model M IBM keyboard. And a small box that you can plug the keyboard to and that converts it to a bluetooth signal. Then you can use it for that Onyx reader AND your phone AND that set-top box for your TV and also for your computer.

    1. Nate Hoffelder11 December, 2014

      Ideally it would be built into the case for the ereader. But you’re right in that there are some BT keyboards about the right size.

  8. Jessica11 December, 2014

    I would rather an e ink screen that I could stick on the front of my iPad. Kinda like these iPhone cases coming out, but this could sit in the back, be detached, and be placed at the front when needed.

    I always used to have issues with mechanical keyboards. I don’t want to go back to them.

    Word processing on e ink is great though. Since someone has figured out how to hack some readers to work with keyboards, might try and make my own version of this.

  9. pro2type11 December, 2014

    I like the idea, having used this little baby for a decade.

    Im afraid that the ugly bulky look of the Hemmingwrite will be all I am thinking of then trying to do work of this thing.

    There was som devices a decade ago, that could do the job, before it all became social media.

    This one was another of my favourites

    1. Nate Hoffelder11 December, 2014

      Yes, the Psion line was pretty nifty all around, and the last generation was actually the first netbook. I liked it; between Wince and the 7″ screen it was a fun gadget.

      I don’t think it had a great design, but that could be the result of it being 5 years ahead of its time.

  10. anothername11 December, 2014

    It’s as a dumb as a brick. A full-sized keyboard and stamp-sized screen? What’s it for? Writing tweets?

  11. […] be my only chance to see it; I won't be buying one. It's a nifty looking gadget, but even at the $399 Kickstarter price it is a more than I am willing to pay. It just does too little and costs too […]


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