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Hands On with the FreeWrite Hipster Typewriter (video)

freewrite video reviewStill on the fence with the Freewrite after yesterday’s review? Here are a few new reviews to help you make up your mind.

I was following up on Kaz Augustin’s scathing review of the hipster typewriter this morning when I found a couple hands on videos on Youtube as well as another review.

One video, by Alex Strick van Linschoten, is just his first impressions and is a little too short to be useful. But the other video, by Leslie Penelope, is a 13-minute long unboxing video. It’s still a first impressions video, but Leslie does go into detail about why she bought the Freewrite.

She compares it to the Alphasmart Neo, that lovely little wordprecoessor which costs one-tenth of the Freewrite’s price and is twenty times as useful. And even though Leslie starts the video cold (she knows nothing about the Freewrite’s features, or lack thereof) she still demonstrates that the Freewrite only has limited functionality.

You can find her video at the end of the post.

Speaking of reviews, I found a piece The Atlantic published yesterday.

freewrite reviewIt is less a hardware review you can use to decide whether you should buy the Freewrite than it is a stream of consciousness hipster-like review. It’s not a terribly useful article, but the piece does have the ironic distinction of reading like it was written on the device reviewed in the article.

That piece does make the point that the Freewrite is more or less designed for you to start drafting on the Freewrite and finish your work elsewhere, but it doesn’t explain why you should start with the Freewrite at all when you could save yourself $500 and simply start and finish your writing projects on your computer or mobile device (or, as Leslie shows, on a $50 Alphasmart neo).

If you know a good answer to that, I am all ears.

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Ellen Hage May 10, 2016 um 1:00 pm

I loved Alphasmart. I had the blue Alpha smart, then I got the Dana and later the Neo. It was great for school.

Frank May 10, 2016 um 1:19 pm

Nate, The Atlantic article draft was written on the FreeWrite, the author even talks about it. The stream of consciousness style was intended.

Nate Hoffelder May 10, 2016 um 1:25 pm

Yes, but he also didn’t edit it for conciseness, depth, detail, or any other reason. As a review, it’s a #Fail.

KS Augustin May 11, 2016 um 7:28 am

I have an update. You can go here ( for the return policy but it says, in essence, that if the Freewrite is "used" (I typed some characters on it?), it’s non-returnable!

"To be eligible for a return, your item must be unused and in the same condition that you received it. It must also be in the original packaging."

The conditions for a refund are also so ludicrous it’s like it was written by a comedian; to whit:

"Once your return is received and inspected, we will send you an email to notify you that we have received your returned item. We will also notify you of the approval or rejection of your refund.
If you are approved, then your refund will be processed, and a credit will automatically be applied to your credit card or original method of payment, within a certain amount of days."

So, you spend money to send it (trackable) to New York, and then a decision is made and then…well, who knows? "If you are approved", "a certain amount of days"…I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. I’ve put a comment for one of the Freewrite team to clarify this odious clause at the Support board and will report back if I get a response.

Nate Hoffelder May 11, 2016 um 8:02 am

Yeah, that’s the same return policy they’ve had forever. It’s copied from another site, and never proofread.

Did you see the bit about downloadable software and gift cards not being returnable? LOL

KS Augustin May 11, 2016 um 9:25 am

Yeah, I was wondering about that. Still, most unfair. Damn, I think I got me a turkey!

Nate Hoffelder May 11, 2016 um 9:43 am

Yes, sorry!

But on the upside you did save me $500. I appreciate it.

Eddie May 11, 2016 um 8:23 pm

because it is cool, period. if you love it, you love it.

you may as well ask, why use a Leica m6 now?

KS Augustin May 12, 2016 um 1:51 am

@Edddie, I still use my Olympus OM-1. And do you know why? Because. It. Works. I can’t say the same about the Freewrite. You sound like an Apple fan, though, where Coolness trumps Functionality…so I could just be eliminating myself in a zephyr here.

@Nate: Bwahahahahaha

KS Augustin May 12, 2016 um 1:53 am

Latest latest update from Astrohaus:

@ks.augustin has egregiously violated our 'living room' policy and has the ignominious honor of being the first person banned from the Community here. This forum is provided for spirited discussion, fact finding, and community support. All of it is with the intention of helping people, not putting them down (Astrohaus team included).

Way to take criticism eh?

Nate Hoffelder May 12, 2016 um 8:48 am

I know of at least one other person who has been banned from their forums.

Nate Hoffelder May 12, 2016 um 9:02 am

I notice that the forum requires the same login info as your Postbox account (required for your Freewrite).

Can you still use your Freewrite, or did the ban effectively brick the device?

KS Augustin May 12, 2016 um 9:22 pm

Nooooooooo! They said I was first!!! ::foot stamp:: How can I continue to impress my teenage children if they think I’m just one of a crowd? Sheesh.

I can still access Postbox and forum. As I said in my tweet, it was–at best–a milquetoast ban. The Freewrite is packed up (in all its original glory, fully photographed) ready for packing off on Monday.

Nate Hoffelder May 12, 2016 um 9:31 pm

Wait, sorry, I just now realized that that Twitter account belongs to you. *blush* my goof.

Eddie May 12, 2016 um 4:39 am

Olympus OM-1 is nice. i brought Alphasmart and visited all because of freewrite. Yes i am a fan of freewrite. I visited this website because i want to find more digital items similar to freewrite. i mean items that the producer invested in sophisticated mechanical design but in essense a digital device. likely you will hate them too, but in case you are aware of something like this could you kindly post the link for my reference? many thanks! i really mean it. i want to find them. i don’t like apple products in this regard, they are not good enough in this respect. i wish they will develop products moving to this direction. give us options. but very unlikely. we are the minority in the market.

i like to collect them and use them. I don’t need convenient functions, and i don’t mind doing things manually. but i need quality that i can feel and enjoy using, long term. this is more about quality of life to me. different people value different things. ?

KS Augustin May 12, 2016 um 5:12 am

Hi Eddie. Yes, I see what you mean (and agree about Apple). Okay, here’s where I am. I had faith in the Freewrite and it hasn’t come through for me. I thought I was a backer of the CHIP ( but it seems I only subscribed to their newsletter, so I’ve got to go get me a couple. I have also bought a Raspberry Pi so, as you can see, I love tech.

I can get mechanical keyboards and 6-inch capacitive eink displays with little problem. Stick a Linux kernel on the CHIP, hook it up to the keyboard and display via, perhaps, a mechanical typewriter carcass (or maybe some enterprising OSSer will share plans/3D print up something), and I think you’ll have something with better functionality than a Freewrite and also cheaper. And also further customisable. And also functionally expandable.

*That’s* what I’m thinking.

KS Augustin May 12, 2016 um 5:26 am

(Sorry for taking up so much space with my comments, Nate.)

Eddie, I ordered 2 CHIPS with cases and LiPo batteries. It comes with a Linux preloaded, so should be good to go. I’ll get the eink display and keyboard around July/August, after the CHIPS arrive and I’ve had time to familiarise myself with the architecture. I think this would be a wonderful project for a writer tinkerer! 🙂 Not too difficult but immensely satisfying. Have to give a hat tip to Jon "Maddog" Hall for writing about it in the first place.

Night Knight July 21, 2016 um 4:15 am

I look forward to reading about the project.

I’m considering doing the same thing, although with a bigger e ink display.

the main reason is the not so ergonomic position of the freewriter screen, I want something with an upright screen.

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