What do you get when you cross a folding keyboard with an E-ink display? Answer: the King Jim Pomera DM30 that I wrote about for ZDNet last year. It’s a pocket device optimized for distraction-free writing anywhere, even outside with its reflective display. And if a fixed-function word processor wasn’t retro enough, it even runs on AA batteries. But there are still ties to the modern device world. Files can be moved to a PC or smartphone via memory cards and QR codes in a companion app. The company also offers the DM200, a variation on the theme that includes a larger E-ink display and a rechargeable battery that feels like a modern, fixed-function version of the Poquet PC.
The Pomera line has been around in Japan for over a decade, but had never been marketed in America. That was going to change with the DM30 after its crowdfunding campaign, but its poor execution included a stultifying, subtitled video. Late in the game, King Jim floated offering a US English keyboard, but it was too little, too late. The crowdfunding campaign tanked, raising less than a third of its goal, and the compay nixed its American plans.
There’s no doubt that the Pomera DM30 would have made it had King Jim invested in a good PR campaign to support its crowdfunding bid. Far less compelling products have raised far more. While it hinted that it would try again at some point, there’s still no American DM30. And with the pandemic-fueled recession making us less mobile than ever, it’s unlikely that that will change any time soon.
This fall, we should finally see the arrival of a more successful crowdfunded device, FreeWrite Traveler, which preserves the E-Ink writing experience, but is a much larger device. The DM30 seems like something that someone could do a pretty good job rigging up with a Raspberry Pi Zero, but nobody has.