Typing on cellphones and tablets sucks. Virtual keyboards can be effective, but they take up half of your screen’s real estate. On the other hand, portable keyboards then tend to be either too small (limited by your tablet’s screen size), or too clunky to carry.
A company called WayTools wants to change this with their three-piece TextBlade keyboard. The device folds to half the size of an iPhone 4 and easily fits into a pants pocket, but the company claims you can type at full speed without trouble.
The entire QWERTY layout is divided into four ‘smart keys’ per side, which feature multi-touch to know which letter you’re supposed to be typing. There’s also an optional stand to prop your device up that fits around the folded TextBlade.
While it may seem like there’d then be some confusion if two fingers tried to press two letters on the same key, the layout should actually imitate the way your fingers get mapped to specific letters when touch-typing on a real keyboard; each key is meant to be handled by one finger.
The device also uses multi-touch cleverly to access secondary features; the corners of the space bar are touch-sensitive and wil activate symbols and numbers, and specific key combinations allow you to quickly access functions like copy, paste and undo.
The keys are full-travel according to WayTools, and instead of being cramped into small areas like on most portable keyboards, the company says your fingers should have as much or more space to maneuver around than on a traditional keyboard.
In fact, one of their promo videos shows typing at over 100 words per minute, and the company claims the easy access to secondary features actually makes the TextBlade better than a standard laptop keyboard.
Those are lofty claims we can’t verify without trying one ourselves, but there’s no denying it’s one of the smartest concepts for a portable keyboard we’ve seen.
The TextBlade is already in production and sells for $99, although devices seem to be backordered until March. It’s compatible with both iOS and Android (KitKat+) devices.