I say this more as joke that anything else but it would be interesting if Keith Blout designed Scrivener to work on something like this: http://hemingwrite.com

The ultimate writing computer in my view.

That looks kind of fun! Scrivener would never run on it, though. I’m not sure Hemingwrite has any significant advantage over an AlphaSmart, though, whose batter runs for months if not years.

The think the primary advantage over the Alphasmart is that the Hemingwrite will be manufactured in the future. :confused:

They’ve discontinued AlphaSmarts Keith.

No!! Have they really? That’s terribly sad. Wonderful things, and perfect for out-and-about actual writing, rather than for posing and kidding yourself you’re doing something useful. Distressing news.

US and UK store only offering spare parts. :neutral_face:

What I don’t get is why can’t someone create a laptop with a full sized e-ink screen. There’s one way Scrivener can be run. I am absolutely fed up with glossy screens and retina displays that are absolutely great for watching movies, but are atrocious for any real writing. People should be able to write in the same way they read - without eyestrain.

No laptop manufacturer would use e-ink as a primary display technology. Except for the superior readability in full sunlight, it’s worse than the earliest LCD screens of yore; horrendous refresh rate, grey-scale or very limited color pallets being the top two problems with it as a laptop display. And I don’t know if you can back-light it; if not, major disadvantage in low-light situations. Maybe some day, e-ink displays will overtake LCD technology, but today is not that day.

Newer news on the Hemingwrite: the Kick-starter campaign* is under way. Seems to be on-track for meeting its goal early. Features that might set it above the AlphaSmart line: mechanical-switch keyboard, e-ink display, large capacity for text (not sure why you’d want huge files, but…) mechanical dials for selecting documents. Disadvantages seem to be a focus on their document sync service (which can, in turn, send documents to other sync services like Dropbox & Google Docs), and it’s high cost (the cheapest it could be had is at it’s $350 “crazy early” pledge amount; it goes up from there).

Also a feature they’re not touting, hidden in a single-question FAQ, is that you can copy a file over the “USB charging port” if you want, so you’re not absolutely dependent upon wifi or sync services to get your words out. I count this as an advantage, since there’s no guarantee they’ll stay in business for the life of the machine.


Nooo! That’s really sad. They are such great devices with an amazing battery life - mine’s still running on the same battery I got when I bought it several years ago (admittedly, I only use it from time to time, but I do love it).

Yeah, it is sad that AlphaSmart is no more. At least on the positive side, the thing is built like a tank and I haven’t had even a mild problem with either the firmware or hardware in the years I’ve been using it. So I expect to get plenty more out of it. I just changed the batteries in it for the first time, a few months ago.

If you want a laptop that can be comfortably used outdoors in broad daylight, or indoors with good ambient lighting, they do make them. You’re looking for transflective LCD, and it’s typically found in “rugged” laptops (but there are a few exceptions). Transflective means you can pump light through the LCD in transmission mode, but it is made of reflective material, so that lighting can be switched off and you view it like a sheet of paper in bright lighting conditions.

E Ink would be horrible though, for all of the reasons above, but mainly refresh. We wouldn’t be talking about a normal laptop if we include E Ink as its display mechanism. Such a device would be keyboard-only, think WordPerfect 5.11 and DOS. There is no way you could animate a mouse pointer in such a fashion that it would be useful—imagine every mouse movement taking one second to manifest, you’d be overshooting and undershooting for ten minutes before finally getting the pointer over the button! :slight_smile:

E Ink doesn’t back-light well at all, there is too much opaque material (ink) in the way. E-readers with built-in lights accomplish the effect by using a special flattened fibre optic sheet that conveys light across and down upon the surface in a uniform fashion. So it would be entirely possible, as far as I know, to just increase the size of that concept and have a front-lit laptop sized E Ink screen. And, since it is front-lighting and not back-lighting, you can only use as much light as you need, rather than blasting out tons of light (battery!) to get through the pixel medium and remain legible (a bigger problem with ultra-high resolution monitors). It doesn’t matter what resolution the E Ink medium is since we’re just lighting a reflective surface. It works great. I read using a Kobo Aura HD with a front-lit surface, and it is comfortable to read with under any conditions, even pitch dark. My only gripe is that they used a cool cast light instead of a warmer yellow/orange light.

That’s the biggest turn-off for me, though the bit about being able to mount it as a USB device to get your files makes it fine in the end. The shame is that one of the huge dials on the front will be for something I will never use, ever: turning WiFi on. 8)

They have posted a clarification on the matter:

That’s all I want/need, and frankly that’s better than the AlphaSmart situation anyway, for getting things off of it.

The cost is a big drawback, and that probably won’t change much given how niche of a product it is. We only got AlphaSmarts for cheap because they were flooded into school rooms, that was their primary target. Writers were only an eccentric and incidental user group in the equation—and that’s all Hemingwrite has to work with: writers that are even weirder than most writers.

Sorry, but that’s fugly. Only it’s mother (creators) could love it.

The screen’s too small. Definitely too much of a one trick pony. Reminds me of the locally (Australian/NZ) made educational computers built in the 70/80’s, really clunky looking.

As I also work on my holidays, I have the need for a full blown laptop, though I do cast an envious look at wife’s MacBook Air sometimes. (Mine’ s a late 2013 retina MBPro 15").

I don’t have problems with reflective screens etc, some others mentioned, though I don’t sit out in the sun to write.

That said, I do look at getting a decent full size with numeric mechanical keyboard like the old Apple beasts, from time to time. Wish Apple made a wireless one

A while ago, a company by the name of Pixel Qi had designed screens that could work in sunlight and were comparable to e-ink screens:


However, I think the screens have become vapour ware. So far, no major companies have made the jump. And I doubt Apple will be on the same band wagon.

Today, it should not be impossible to have enough storage space to store all text you’ll ever write in your life. Which would make things easy: “Where do I have this article from 31 years ago? Oh, must be on my Hemingwrite, of course …” :laughing:

What I find puzzling is the mass adoption of Hemingway as some sort of assurance of writing quality, as though being touched by the writer’s name bestows the kiss of vicarious success. The Hemingway App, the Hemingwrite machine… What if you don’t actually enjoy Hemingway’s writing very much? Call me a philistine if you like, but he has always left me a little underwhelmed. I don’t dislike his work, as such, and I’m not denying that it is both stylistically interesting and important in the canon, but I can’t say that I’ve ever felt any urge to re-read his books. And I certainly wouldn’t find myself inspired simply by seeing his name stamped across my writing implement.

Except you can only switch between three files.

Also, you can’t copy & paste, so editing would be nearly impossible on this thing.

And you likely can’t scroll quickly (e-ink refreshes REALLY slowly).

Granted, an artificially small amount of RAM would be obnoxious, and being able to power through a rough draft without offloading to a computer might be appealing (but only if backups are syncing to a cloud account).

I don’t know. I really liked The Old Man and the Sea. And Woody Allen’s characterization of him in Midnight in Paris was actually really freaking funny…

I think he’s still a force to reckon with in literature. His minimalist style was very much ahead of its time.

And that time that he and Indiana Jones ran into Al Capone was great… :laughing: