There is a lot to be impressed with at first glance. There is a kind of aesthetic that it has—a sort of tuxedo writing device. Primarily black and white with spots of red throughout. There are touches of chrome as well. It gives the feeling of polish. The keyboard, while not a large mechanical one, has an appropriate amount of travel and response. They are a little on the mushy side, and the space bar feels different than the rest of the keys. Think of an ThinkPad keyboard, but not quite as good.
The actual form factor is quite lovely to type on the table or desk. The screen is the right size, and the non-glare e-ink screen is super clear and easy on the eyes. I can see the t’s and k’s doubling up on first testing. But that can just be me getting used to the keyboard. My primary keyboard is a
Unicomp Model M Moonlander.
Here is the thing: as a product, this device is perfectly executed. It is a single-purpose device meant to capture thoughts and bring you into “your flow,” whatever that might look like, dutifully performing its stated purpose. It does that flawlessly. No need to edit or fuss over the markup of the text while you write, it just records.
Some people fret about the lag in the screen. Not an issue. While I am not a perfect typist by any stretch, I can touch type, and I find that I don’t even look a the screen most of the time. I even close my eyes, allowing my mind’s eye to take over. I can see the words and thoughts take shape and my finger types what it sees. It really is a unique typing experience.
As a product, it does the two things that I care about the most. It provides zero distractions! (except that pesky power light, which I will promptly cover with a sticker soon.1) And the ability to save my work to the cloud without thinking or fretting over the technology. It just works.
The keys’ plastic have a texture to them that I wish the rest of the device has on it. But that is a slight gripe; the polished black plastic is aesthetic for sure.
The more I type on this device, the more I appreciate its form factor. Precisely the right amount of key travel and screen size. It feels “efficient,” that being a compliment
Oh, and yes, the kerning on the logo could be improved.
There is one form factor design “flaw” (that is too strong of a word…), but in the Traveler’s design, it isn’t possible to tell what folder you are on; or if your wifi is on or off. On the original Freewrite, mechanical switches act like pointers pointing you to what setting you have chosen. Not so with the Traveler. A small nit-pick.
The clamshell design does lend itself to rocking back a bit when using in the bed or on your lap, but it isn’t nearly as bad as I had feared.
I do wish there were some font choices. You can choose between small (which is way too small), medium (which is just right), and large (which is ridiculously large and I guess good for those that might need it.) But I completely understand the decision to not have font choices. One less thing to fiddle with.
My workflow as it stands will look like this: draft on the Traveler. Just get my thoughts out of my head and into a computer. The Traveler is a scalpel in this way. Razor-sharp, executing this task wonderfully. Write without fear, edit without mercy, as the saying goes. Once I have a draft of an idea, I will export the text to Google Docs for editing and marking it up to store, or proofing and editing it to prep it for publication to this site. I can then share the document with my wife (an excellent writer and editor). I then will run the text through Grammarly to have it unscrupulously judge me. There is a Google docs tool that allows me to export the document into markdown. From there, I can put it into VS code and begin to make the necessary changes to publish to my website. I use the static site generator Jekyll to accomplish this.
You know, I used to wake up and drink my coffee, read the news, and check the socials. And while I am not committing to not doing that any longer, I can tell you that waking up, journaling, and thinking is a lot more refreshing than consuming the seemingly neverending negativity in the world.
Using the Traveler in this way gives me peace of mind and focus in the morning; frankly, it makes my coffee taste better.
It is worth noting that in a recent firmware update, they dimmed the light to tolerable levels. :) ↩