Monday, 17 June 2013

What a (writer) girl wants

A minor miracle happened on Saturday–the sun came out. We’ve had more than our fair share of rain in these parts, and with the notable exception of the freakishly hot and sunny weather we had the first weekend in June it has been a typical Nova Scotia spring--that is, cold, wet and prone to despair if you are of the gardening persuasion. This past Thursday, when June 13 was doing a rather decent impersonation of March, I caved and put my socks on. However, Saturday morning we were greeted to sun. By the end of the day, we’d mowed, went to the zoo, and ate ice cream at a stand.

Summer in Nova Scotia is two months long, though September is brilliant too. When it is summer I want to be outside, puttering, drinking tea on my back deck in the morning, reading books in the shade, and a whatever else I can accomplish while parking my backside in the great outdoors.  But I’m a writer too, and what I’d love to be doing on my deck at 2 pm is writing. But I can’t.

That isn’t entirely true of course. When I’m writing a first draft I write long hand. But when I’m editing, or even transcribing that long hand manuscript, I need a computer of some kind. However, even in the shade, the screen of a lap top (or even a smartphone) is practically impossible to see. As much as I squint at the screen, generally all I get back is a mirror image of myself. Squinting. I’ve seen some crazy hacks so people can use their lap tops in the sun, including hunkering down with the lap top under a box to block out the sun, which pretty much misses the point. Which got me thinking—why hasn’t anyone invented a laptop with an e-ink screen?

I have a Kobo Touch ereader, which I love. It’s e-ink, which means I can read it in brilliant sunlight, and because there is no screen to light, the battery lasts forever. I understand the refresh rate of e-ink screens makes writing more difficult (turning a page and refreshing that type is much different than an ever moving cursor), but, as they say, we’ve put a person on the moon now, we should be able to figure this one out.

Apparently there have been prototypes of kits that will turn an LCD into eink display, but I don’t think they went anywhere. This past February there was an announcement of an Android phone (still a prototype I believe) that runs e-ink. And of course, there is the still new but very cool e-paper, which is basically e-ink type display on very thin (and flexible surfaces), and now being used in high tech watches.

But all I want is a laptop. I want a laptop with e-ink and maybe even a little glow around the screen (like a Kobo glo, for example) for the evenings. It would be light, run Word and a few other programs, and surf the web when I need to look something up. The battery would run for a week. Instead of squirreling away in a dark corner, I could sit in a sunny one, or even outside, typing away. No strained eyes. Perhaps it wouldn’t be in colour – to which I say, less writing time spent on Pinterest. Wins all around.

What about you—if a reasonably priced e-ink laptop came on the market, would you consider picking one up? 

Michelle Helliwell is a lover of tech and an aspiring historical romance author. She blogs regularly on her website. You can also find her occasionally on twitter, popping into Goodreads. and far too much on Pinterest. In fact, she gives you permission to scold her about getting back to her writing if you see her pinning too much.


  1. I would sooooooo buy that!!! And why hasn't someone invented it?

  2. Yes, yes, yes!! I would absolutely buy it. My Kobo Touch has died a most horrible death - it's caught in an update deathgrip. Can't do anything with it and so alas, I must trek over to Chapter's and purchase another one. My ARC is useless in the sun and so my lovely reading day I'd planned for yesterday ended in frustration and wine. o_O

  3. Yes!
    And if it's light enough to not upset the balance of my zero-gravity verandah chair, I volunteer to be part of the focus group to test it.

  4. Oh yeah. To be able to write outdoors is my idea of bliss. Because our summers are so fleeting, I refuse to stay indoors, which means I don't get enough writing done in the summer.

  5. That would be great! I love writing outside, but it's definitely tough to do it on a laptop when the sun is shining.

  6. Man, I wonder that all the time!!! It's so ridiculous they haven't made something for the sun yet .. .but i know that will change soon enough. Technoloy always does!