Logistical info about the We R typewriter: it comes in black or pink (the pink is very subtle- more like a slightly peachy-pink blush tone), it's apparently an "exclusive" Michaels item and it retails for $199.99. I found mine easily in a brick and mortar store, though it's also available online. In addition to the typewriter, you can buy color/black combo ink ribbon spools that you can swap in and out of the machine (pink, teal, red, etc.).
One of the first things I wanted to compare was how the fonts looked between the We R typewriter and a vintage one. I was surprised to see that the font of the We R machine was bigger and the words were more spaced out than how my old school Smith-Corona types. Here are two sections I typed so you can see the difference for yourself (and yes- I know I misspelled "typewriter" in the first example. It had been a long day and I had a two-year old yanking on my pant leg in dire need of fruit snacks at the time-- don't judge me)!
This was quite a difference! This example is magnified to show detail, but the font on the Smith-Corona is so small in real life that it's kind of hard to read. I liked that the We R font was bigger and more clear. The We R typewriter comes with a black/red ink ribbon, so you can type in either color without having to change the ribbon. Just like on a vintage typewriter, you just flip a switch to choose which color you want to type with.
Another difference I saw was that the We R typewriter has more keys than my vintage typewriter. My vintage one doesn't have fractions, the number 1 (I guess you're supposed to use a lower case L for that) or even an exclamation point. As you can see here, the We R keyboard has a lot of handy keys, including the British pound symbol. It has an "automatic" button down by the space bar that, when pushed, makes the spacing go machine-gun fast even though the entire typewriter is manual (no cords, no electricity).
Another nice feature about the We R typewriter is that We R has produced several appealing black/color combo inks to use in it, as pictured below. These inks are $9.99 for one set. I was worried that if I bought the We R typewriter, I wouldn't be able to find ink for it if they ever stopped making it. But its ink spool holders are standard-sized, so any brand of ink will work with it. Conversely, I tried my We R ink spools in my vintage machine and they worked great! So I was able to type in color on my vintage machine. This means that if you're wanting to buy the We R machine simply to be able to type in color, it isn't necessary. A quick browse through Amazon showed me that other companies already make colored ink ribbons that fit in standard-sized vintage machines.
Lastly, the We R typewriter can accommodate 12x12 paper whereas my vintage typewriter isn't that wide. So if you want to type on your layout, this machine will allow you to do that. Keep in mind, however, that if you mis-type, there's no going back! There's no delete button here, so your typo will remain forever and always on that gorgeous layout. I don't mind the look of messy grungy typing, but some people might.
From this list, you can see that there are some absolutely great features about this new We R typewriter. But there were also a couple of drawbacks.
One reality is that the We R typewriter takes a good bit of muscle to type on! Maybe I'm lazy from being raised in the computer keyboard era, but the We R typewriter keys are even harder to strike than the keys on my vintage machine. In addition, I'm a speedy typist and found that I really had to slow down or multiple keys would fly up at once and get stuck. This happens with my vintage machine, too, but the We R typewriter's keys really require some oomph to press. They're not impossible to press, but they're not as easy to strike as I hoped they would be.
A final consideration is the quality of construction. I probably sound like a crusty 90-year-old, but hardly anything is made with the same level of quality as things from "yesteryear." While the We R machine seems relatively solid, the casing is still plastic. My Smith-Corona is hard core metal which has withstood decades of use and neglect. The We R machine, while fine by today's standards, is simply never going to hold up to the same quality level of my vintage one. The spools of ink are plastic for the We R typewriter, whereas even the spools on my vintage typewriter are metal. I also felt like the ink spools on my vintage machine held a lot more ink ribbon than the We R ink spools.
When it comes right down to it, I think the only real deciding factor between the We R typewriter and a real vintage one is if you like the bigger font style of the We R machine and if you want to be able to fit 12x12 paper through the roller.
In summary, here is a list of reasons you should buy the We R typewriter and why you shouldn't, especially if you already have a vintage machine.
Why You Should Buy the We R Typewriter
- If you like the vintage look and don't already have a vintage typewriter, it's nice to get a brand new one that you know is going to work. You also know where/when it was made so you have a company to contact if any issues arise.
- If you want a cute pink typewriter, this one is still cheaper than a "real" vintage pink typewriter which may or may not work.
- The font is slightly bigger and more clearly spaced than the font my vintage typewriter produced, which makes it easier to read.
- It can accommodate 12x12 paper.
- It has a lot more handy keys (fractions, pound symbol, etc.) than my vintage typewriter.
- Its ink ribbons are standard-sized so you can buy fun colors of We R ink for it or buy other companies' ink.
- Vintage typewriters can also type with colored ink if you find standard-sized ink ribbon spools for your machine.
- The We R typewriter's keys are harder to strike than my vintage machine's keys.
- The quality of a vintage machine (all metal parts) will always be superior to something manufactured these days out of plastic.
- Unless you plan to type on 12x12 paper for layouts, you don't really need a wider paper opening. Vintage typewriters still allow you to easily type on envelopes, labels, Project Life cards, etc.
- Typewriters take up a lot of prime real estate on your desk, especially if you already have one.
- No matter how you slice it, $200 is a good chunk of change to spend on a crafty machine.