Distraction-free writing software is one of those things that seems unlikely to ever go away, despite the fact that I’m willing to bet 90 percent of users who buy it use it once and never again. A new hardware startup out of Detroit is hoping that a physical solution might help users focus on the writing, in much the same way e-readers allow people to focus on books without getting tangled in the sticky mess that is the rest of the web.
Hemingwrite, which debuts on Kickstarter today, pairs a mechanical keyboard with an e-ink display for on-the-go writing prowess. It does away with the complexity of other solutions, including notebooks and iPad/keyboard combos, and it helps shut out the constant harangue of social media, including the distracting lure of Twitter’s inane cackling and the former flame pabulum of Facebook’s worthless background chatter.
The hardware is attractive, sporting a retro design that recalls the typewriters of old without committing to a slavish imitation of the same. It’s got mechanical switches that let you navigate folders to find your saved compositions, and one that lets you enable Wi-Fi, and scan for new networks. A status display can provide a few different options for info at a glance, including word or character count, or a timer letting you know how long you’ve been at your craft.
The 6-inch e-ink display and simple function set means that it’ll last for over four weeks with normal usage, and it even has a fold-down handle, so you can lug the 4 lb gadget with you wherever you go. E-ink also means you can write in broad daylight, and there’s a front-light included for darker environments. Cloud-sycning means you can pick up and start docs in other apps on other platforms, and begin using them on the Hemingwrite directly from Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud, OneDrive, SpiderOak and Google Docs.
Founding team Adam Leeb and Patrick Paul have experience with previous software and mechanical engineering products, and they’ve partnered with an existing full-scale manufacturing partner to help bring the thing to life.
The Hemingwrite team intends to ship its hardware starting in September 2015, and while full retail price will be $499, backers can pre-order starting at just $349. I say just, but that’s still a lot to pay for what is essentially a computer that can only run a simple word processing application; you can get a Chromebook for less, for instance. But if you want true distraction-free writing, this may be your best bet in a world of notification overload.