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60 seconds with Hemingwrite, an E Ink typewriter

Sean Buckley, @seaniccus
November 8, 2014
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Between social networks, video games and the endless void of procrastination we call "the internet," computers can make pretty poor writing devices. Isn't there something better? Insert Coin contenders Adam Leeb and Patrick Paul think so -- they've created the Hemingwrite: an E Ink typewriter that does almost nothing, save text entry. It's a minimalist writing machine that features a machine-tooled aluminum chassis, a satisfying mechanical keyboard and a six-week battery life. It's not completely devoid of modern faculties, however: it also automatically uploads your prose to a cloud storage system as you type it.

Engadget Expand: 60 Seconds with Hemingwrite


Everything about the Hemingwrite is designed to reduce distraction -- it doesn't even have a menu. Instead, writers use distinctive, manual switches to change folders or manage WiFi settings, and these toggles are artfully integrated into the machine's typewriter-inspired design. The machine's simplicity is core to its design and appeal, but it's also simplistic to a fault: right now, it only outputs text via the cloud (leaving users no way to back up data without an internet connection). The lack of an on-screen menu introduces other limits, too: the Hemingwrite can easily store a million pages of plaintext writing across its three folders, but if you open a new document within one of those folders, you can't recall (or delete) the old one without accessing the cloud on a PC.

The device's E Ink display offers beautiful, simple and easily readable text. It's also a large contributor to the typewriters stellar six-week battery life, but it comes with a minor compromise as well: we found the e-paper screen's refresh rate a bit slower than the average Engadget writer's typing speed. This means the display can lag behind your writing, making on-the-fly edits difficult. These limitations seem a little frustrating, but Hemingwrite told us that it's still experimenting with the device's firmware, and will be able to introduce new features and possibly adjust the screens refresh rate if needed.

The Hemingwrite is just a prototype for now -- a rough draft, if you will -- but it has the potential to be the go-to word processor for writers who want something that feels like a traditional typewriter, but with the convenience of editing, cloud synchronization and a near-endless storage capacity. Sound like your kind of writing device? Let us know what you think in the poll below.


Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.

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