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Old 03-23-2017, 05:26 PM   #1
happycampers
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Smile my quest for an e-ink typewriter

So the Freewrite is an interesting concept. But it's a little bit too limited: only one keyboard layout, and no arrow keys. It also costs $500.

Since seeing the Freewrite (formerly Hemingwrite) I have been looking for a way to get the same, or better, functionality.

What I want:
* an e-ink screen (at least 6")
* receiving input from a keyboard without requiring an additional power source while typing
* that syncs what I write to the cloud (with something like simplenote.com)

What I'd prefer, but am happy to compromise on:
* Bigger screen with good resolution
* Wired keyboard instead of bluetooth keyboard (or ideally, the option to do both)

There has been much discussion of this topic at this thread, which is a couple of years old, but I don't think anyone has been able to build something that fulfils my three criteria.

It definitely is possible.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywYzZuZmLjc


This person has made it work with the Onyx Kepler and a bluetooth keyboard.

In the video below, someone appears to be able to make it work with the Onyx Boox T68 and a wired keyboard.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAG-pYuXdg0

However, I am not sure this person is doing it without an external power source.

The Android e-readers that I know of which have Bluetooth capability are:
* Onyx Kepler
* Onyx Kepler Pro
* Onyx Boox C67ML
* Onyx Boox T68
* InkBook Prime

Of these, the only ones I can find to buy are the InkBook Prime (amazon). The others all seem sold out.

It is very difficult to figure out whether an e-reader has the hardware capability to power a USB keyboard. For instance I bought the Icarus Illumina, but it appears it cannot power a keyboard. If you know of any devices that are definitely able to do this, please let me know.

Thanks!

Last edited by happycampers; 03-23-2017 at 06:44 PM. Reason: to clarify
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Old 03-23-2017, 05:38 PM   #2
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This post suggests even the Onyx T68 no longer works with a wired USB keyboard.
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Old 03-23-2017, 06:25 PM   #3
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Does it really matter whether or not the keyboard requires a power source? The Bluetooth keyboard I use with my iPad is USB chargeable using a standard microUSB connector, and a charge gives 3 months usage at 2h use a day. Hardly a burden!
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Old 03-23-2017, 06:43 PM   #4
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Does it really matter whether or not the keyboard requires a power source? The Bluetooth keyboard I use with my iPad is USB chargeable using a standard microUSB connector, and a charge gives 3 months usage at 2h use a day. Hardly a burden!
Thanks Harry. I should have clarified: the keyboard should not require a power source while typing. I edited the OP. Occasional recharging of bluetooth keyboard is fine.

The reason I would prefer a wired keyboard is that most mechanical keyboards are not bluetooth-enabled.
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Old 03-24-2017, 05:30 AM   #5
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So far we've checked that some (can't say if all of them) of the BT keyboards work with inkBOOK Prime. But when looking to connect a keyboard with USB type A cable to the reader you are actually looking for USB OTG functionality. The second requirement would be the power draw of the keyboard. We'll try to check connect the keyboard via USB OTG cable and let you know about the results.
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Old 03-24-2017, 08:15 AM   #6
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I'm happy to find this thread as I've been looking for exactly the same thing, and look forward to seeing how people get on. The Freewrite (I have one) is a cute concept but is limited by i) the fact that you can't insert your typing anywhere on-screen, but can only add to the last point (which takes the skeuomorphic nostalgia for a typewriter too far in my opinion), and ii) is really big and, handle notwithstanding, not very portable.

Unlike happycampers, I'm looking for a smaller screen - 6" would be fine, as my aim is for pocketable utraportability. In fact I have a Kepler Pro on order: going to give it a go linked to my old-but-still-the-best iGo stowaway bluetooth keyboard.

I'm used to iOS, and have been mostly writing with Ulysses, Notebooks or Scrivener, but I've never used Android before: I'd be glad to hear people's recommendations for the best cloud-syncing Android text-editing apps (and/or workflows) that might work well on this kind of platform for long-form writing. (Ideally relatively easily compatible with iOS and/or OS X.)
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Old 03-24-2017, 08:27 AM   #7
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The reason I would prefer a wired keyboard is that most mechanical keyboards are not bluetooth-enabled.
True. For my own needs, though, which are for a highly portable solution, I prefer the type of "rubber membrane" keyboard I have. It's extremely thin, lightweight, and portable, which is exactly what I wanted for use with my iPad.

Any Bluetooth keyboard should work with any BT-enabled device. Just a question of finding one which meets your requirements. Probably easier than going down the USB road.

Last edited by HarryT; 03-24-2017 at 08:34 AM.
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Old 03-24-2017, 08:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happycampers View Post
It is very difficult to figure out whether an e-reader has the hardware capability to power a USB keyboard. For instance I bought the Icarus Illumina, but it appears it cannot power a keyboard. If you know of any devices that are definitely able to do this, please let me know.
See this thread
https://www.mobileread.com/forums/sh...25#post3494225
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Old 03-24-2017, 08:59 AM   #9
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We'll try to check connect the keyboard via USB OTG cable and let you know about the results.
Awesome, please keep me posted!
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Old 03-24-2017, 09:02 AM   #10
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Thanks, but that video shows the bluetooth keyboard, not a wired keyboard.
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Old 03-24-2017, 01:34 PM   #11
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Thanks, but that video shows the bluetooth keyboard, not a wired keyboard.
I know.
But still, better than nothing.

The next step is:



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Old 03-24-2017, 06:58 PM   #12
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Wouldn't a Bluetooth keyboard be better for this, hc, given that you're talking about connecting to a tablet of some description? It's much easier to prop up a tablet in a good position for reading if you don't have wires trailing from it.
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Old 03-28-2017, 09:37 AM   #13
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We posted this in other thread already, but it seems that here this piece of information is also needed:


The keyboard was connected through OTG cable (microUSB-USB) and that's it. We would however be cautious when connecting a keyboard with backlit keys and/or USB Hub, the power from USB port might not be sufficient.
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Old 04-01-2017, 07:17 AM   #14
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The keyboard was connected through OTG cable (microUSB-USB) and that's it. We would however be cautious when connecting a keyboard with backlit keys and/or USB Hub, the power from USB port might not be sufficient.
Thanks!
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Old 04-15-2017, 01:37 AM   #15
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Well onyx is coming out with an eink laptop
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