eInk Writer’s Companion

I like to write. I hate to write sitting at my desk. I would love to be able to write anywhere. Being a left hander brought up in a school system that refused to teach left-handed writing styles, I have horrible form and it hurts to write manually for extended periods, which prevents me from using pen and paper for any long form writing. I love computers. I have a completely bizarre typing style that has developed over years that doesn’t result in any discomfort or carpel tunnel issues. And when I say write anywhere, I mean anywhere, including sitting on a beach in broad daylight.

So, what I really need is essentially an eInk Kindle, in landscape mode, perhaps a slightly longer/wider screen, with an attached clamshell keyboard – a real keyword, for use with fingers not just thumbs. It could have wi-fi, but really only for some sort of wireless sync. All I need it to be able to do is create new document files, open existing document files, save files, delete files and support some form of hierarchy so that I can associate multiple documents to each other – such as chapters to a book – and see it visually. Something that simple, with no need for additional software and browsers and Internet and such, could run for hundreds of hours on a single charge, and being that the files are only text, a small amount of memory can go a very, very long way.

I know these days people and companies are in love with multi-function devices. Phones that are also music players and cameras and PDAs and web browsers and email clients and so on and so on. But I still like my single function devices too. I like having a Zune for my music/podcasts and nothing else. I like having a Kindle for reading books. And I would love to have a device that is simply for writing and not for gaming and a million other functions.

Looking around at other simple eInk tablets/readers that exist, I think this could be put together and sold for around $79, probably less, and at that price I’d buy one in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, I doubt such a thing would ever exist. It’s too simple, and whenever I bring up the idea to someone they always respond with either “Get a Tablet” or “Get a Netbook”. I have a netbook and a Kindle Fire, and neither of them are what I want – mostly because the screens are less than useful in sunlight, and the Fire lacks a full physical keyboard. Plus, the battery life on them both is terrible. 8 hours? Bah!

I’d be happy to be wrong though. If there is an eInk document writer with a full keyboard, let me know. I’d be forever in your debt.


  1. I forgot I had this scheduled to post. So, I have an update.

    I spent a bunch of time last night continuing digging around the Internet in search of something that will easily allow me to write (type) anywhere. I stumbled upon the AlphaSmart Neo. While not eInk, reviews state the screen is readable in full daylight, and on 3 AA batteries it will run for over 700 hours. Woohoo!

    The company currently sells the Neo 2 for $170, but I found a Neo on eBay for $40.

    Strangely, this is apparently a popular device for people who participate in the NaNoWriMo as it allows for easier portable distraction free writing (it only writes, no games or Internet or anything) and holds 200 pages (estimated 72,000 words – well more than the 50,000 to win WriMo). Given how much time I spend on the NaNoWriMo site every November, it is weird that I hadn’t come across it sooner.

    Oh well, my device should arrive in a few days. I’ll be sure to post my thoughts on it after I’ve had time to play with it.

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