Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Dedicated Writing Computer on the Cheap

Several of us have probably been there: We decide we want a dedicated computer for writing, so we go out and spend a few hundred dollars on a new computer, and next thing we know, we're checking out Facebook and playing games. Yeah, we're writing too, maybe, but it's just another computer, being used for everything.

There's an easier, cheaper way to get a dedicated computer.

The Raspberry Pi computer has become a sensation among tech-heads. This miniature computer, about the size of a playing card, packs enough punch to handle some pretty sophisticated projects, and more than enough for basic writing tasks. And it costs $39.95.

You don't get much for $39.95, though. Just the main computer board. I recommend picking up the complete starter kit. For about $75 you get the computer, a power supply, a case, an HDMI cable, and a memory card, as well as a couple other doodads.

In its standard configuration, the Pi comes with the Linux operating system and LibreOffice, as well as some other apps, but you could easily set up a distraction-free writing application, such as Focuswriter, or use Google Docs.

Of course, because the Raspberry Pi is a full computer, you could still get distracted by the Internet and games, or whatever your particular writing distraction happens to be. If you want to really go distraction free, you could set up the computer to boot to a command line, then open your editor and file straight from the command line. That way, you don't even see the other applications, and can't easily switch over to something that isn't writing. It might feel a little bit like 1990, but it works.

In the case, the Pi is about the size of a cigarette pack. You can use the HDMI cable to hook it up to a monitor or TV. Pick up a wireless keyboard (like the Logitech MK270, $19.95 for a keyboard and mouse on Amazon), and you have a fully fledged writing computer for about $100.

The Pi uses very little power, so once you have it set up, tuck it behind your TV or monitor and let it sit, powered on, where you can almost forget you even have it.

With a wireless keyboard and with your computer hooked up to your TV (and tucked neatly out of the way behind it), you can comfortably write from your couch or a favorite chair.

Setting up the Pi is easier if you're reasonably comfortable with a computer, but it's not that hard, even if you're not. It really depends on how much you want to customize it.

Here's mine: