Tag Archives | Keyboards

Logitech’s New Unfolding iPad Keyboard: Wider is Better

What do an iPad 2 and an IBM ThinkPad from 1995 have in common? Not a whole lot–unless the iPad is equipped with Logitech’s new Fold-Up Keyboard and the ThinkPad is the famous 701 “Butterfly” model. Like the Butterfly ThinkPad, Logitech’s new gadget, which snaps onto the bottom of the iPad, packs a keyboard that’s wider than the case. As you lift up the iPad, the keyboard swivels out in two pieces–as shown in the first image above–and then pieces together. It’s also reminiscent of the Stowaway folding keyboard, a gadget which would be a wonderful iPhone accessory but which appears to no longer be available.

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Can Motion Control Actually Shake Up Apple Keyboards?

While Apple’s been assaulting the traditional mouse with multi-touch surfaces, so far the keyboard remains unchanged from its basic design.

But an Apple patent found by MacRumors suggests that there’s keyboard revolution on the brain in Cupertino. It calls for four small cameras around the main keys, pointing upwards at the user. By hovering hands above the keys, users could point and perform gestures like they would on a track pad.

In other words, it’s Kinect for your keyboard.

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iPad Keyboards Get Physical

Last Gadget Standing Nominee: tyPad

Price: $99

“If the iPad only had a keyboard,” I’ve sometimes thought to myself, “I could take it on short trips and leave my laptop at home.” Enter tyPad, a leatherette iPad case that happens to have a built-in Bluetooth keyboard. Open it up and the iPad stands upright like a notebook screen. The keyboard is a one-piece design rather than one with discrete, desktop-style keys, but it has a home button and a shortcut for the iPad’s search function; it charges via USB. And since it replaces the on-screen keyboard, it leaves the entire display available for other purposes–which could be handy for word-processing documents, instant-messaging sessions, and other activities which involving both typing and reading.


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Kensington's KeyFolio Adds Keyboard to iPad

Accessory maker Kensington has debuted the KeyFolio, essentially an iPad case with an integrated Bluetooth keyboard. The $99 accessory is slated to debut by the end of the October, the company told me.

The KeyFolio offers some handy features, such as iPad-specific keys to access functions (such as home, etc.) and a stand that allows you to use your device much like a laptop. The battery within the keyboard itself must be charged; Kensington says it would last through about 90 hours of use before needing another charge.

It’s not too heavy–it only adds another pound or so to the overall weight. The keyboard is a tad small, think of it as close to netbook size- a bit larger maybe, but still comfortable to type on.

If you’re worried about the keys scratching the screen itself, don’t. This is because the keyboard itself is rubberized — a good feature too just in case you spill that cup of coffee on it early in the morning.


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A Clamshellized iPhone

I’ve often said that if Apple made an iPhone with a physical keyboard, I’d probably choose it over the all-touchscreen version. So I’m sorry I missed this upcoming product at IFA: An iPhone case with a built-in keyboard. (I assume we’ll see iPad cases based on the same principle, too.)


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David Pogue Doesn't Like Swype

The New York Times’ David Pogue has blogged an addendum to his review of Verizon’s Droid X, in the form of a post about Swype, the ingenious alternate keyboard that comes with the X and other phones. David isn’t a Swype fan. In fact, he confesses to not quite getting why anyone would be a fan of the keyboard, which lets you trace out words without lifting your fingertip from the screen. He says it doesn’t seem like it would be any faster than using a standard smartphone onscreen QWERTY that makes you tap, tap, tap.

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Maxell Debuts Line of Ergomotion Computer Accessories

Maxell to me has always meant recordable media–and I’ve used their products consistently because it’s typically fairly low-cost and high-quality. With physical media beginning to wane, the company has obviously needed to look to other markets for sources of revenue.

Thus, it looks like the company’s next big thing is in accessories, and the two newest products fall under its Ergomotion line. Maxell debuted its laser and optical mice as well as its ergonomic keyboard this week in New York. As the name suggests the ergonomics of this line have to do with motion, and the way the company does it sure is interesting.

Beginning with the mice, the first thing you will notice with them is that they’re almost on a pedestal of sorts. This pedestal allows the mouse itself to be tilted around, which in turn allows users to find the way that is most comfortable to them instead the typical flat-handed hold we have been using to operate our mice for so long.

The real benefit of these mice could be found by standing up. When you’re operating a mouse from that position, your wrist must be bent back unnaturally for long periods of time. With the pedestal, the mouse could be tilted forward slightly, requiring less of that bend on your wrist and thus a more comfortable hold. Maxell argues that this will provide a larger benefit over the standard ergonomic mouse.

Two versions of the mouse are available, an optical and laser model, and will retail for $29.99 and $49.99 USD respectively. The laser version will only come in black, however the optical version is available in grey, blue, red, and purple.

The second Ergomotion product will be the Automatic Motion Keyboard, which will retail for $149.99 USD. While at its heart this keyboard is a standard ergonomic keyboard with the traditional bowed shape, its biggest feature is the fact that it actually moves.

Maxell’s argument for such a feature is this. By changing the shape of the keyboard ever so slightly every hour, it enhances the ergonomics by moving the hands slightly. If a user does find a setting they especially like, Maxell does give the option to stop the keyboard from moving. However, that just seems to defeat the purpose.

This keyboard requires power, so there isn’t a wireless version–it needs to be plugged into a USB port. There is also another downside, at least for Mac users: it’s PC only. The mice will work on either operating system, however.


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The Great iPad Type-Off

Can an iPad replace a notebook, at least for casual use on a weekend jaunt? That’s actually several questions rolled into one. And one of the most important ones is “How’s the keyboard?”

I decided to do a test–a very unscientific one–to see how quickly I could bang out text on the iPad, in both its landscape and portrait orientations. A few notes on this undertaking:

  • I tested the iPad against a 15-inch MacBook Pro (with an excellent full-sized keyboard), an Asus EeePC 1000HE (a netbook with a pretty good keyboard by netbook standards), and an iPhone 3GS (with a keyboard that crams the same basic idea as the iPad one into far less space).
  • On each device, I typed the English lyrics to Antonio Carlos Jobim’s song “The Girl From Ipanema” (which, I should note, are by Norman Gimbel). I chose this test for a practical reason: I know the words by heart, and they therefore test my typing speed, not my ability to transcribe a passage I’m unfamiliar with.
  • I never took typing lessons and  therefore type idiosyncratically; Wikipedia tells me my speed is average. If you’re an ace touch typist, your results might vary a lot.
  • On the iPhone, I typed with two thumbs in portrait mode, and one finger in landscape mode. On everything else, I typed with both hands, as I would on any standard keyboard.
  • On all the devices, I took advantage of autocorrection and autocapitalization where possible, and otherwise corrected my own errors as I typed.
  • For each device, I practiced a few times, then typed the passage and timed my speed with a stopwatch.

How’d the iPad stack up? After the jump, the results.

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Cleaning Gunky, Dirty Keyboards

My keyboard’s always catching junk–dust, bread crumbs, and unidentifiable schmutz. I know for a fact that a clean keyboard lets me type faster and more intelligently, and more important, lets me finish this newsletter more quickly.

My method is simple: I use a tissue and rubbing alcohol to remove the grime that builds up on the keys. To get rid of all the loose gunk, I take the keyboard outside and blast it with a can of air. It’s one of those low-cost ways to feel like you’ve accomplished something important.

On those rare occasions when I’m feeling ambitious, I remove the four screws at the bottom of my way too expensive Avant Stellar keyboard, detach the keyboard from the case, and use the air can there, too. Try it if you have the courage — and the handyman skills.

And if you tip a bottle of beer onto the keyboard, some people recommend you try popping it into the dishwasher.

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