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Input Devices Apple

An iPad Keyboard You Can Type On and Swipe Through 93

Posted by timothy
from the better-mousetrap-of-silicone dept.
TechCrunch features an article (the first of three, actually) outlining the development of a clever hardware keyboard for the iPad. It's hard to write about Kickstarter projects, because there are so many cool ideas that seem to deserve funding it's simply overwhelming. The TouchFire keyboard is one of those cool ideas, too, but it's far surpassed the founders' original funding goals and is nearing production. The TouchFire isn't wired, but it isn't wireless, either, in the conventional sense, because it provides no signal of its own: it's a transparent overlay that provides a tactile interface to the iPad's on-screen keyboard, and — the tricky part — is thin enough to actually swipe through when you're not using it for text-entry. The keyboard takes advantage of the iPad 2's built-in magnets for stability, though it works with the original iPad, too. (Hopefully an Android version will come soon, but the variety of screen resolutions and on-screen keyboard shapes makes that harder.) I talked with co-creator Steve Isaac (it's his account at TechCrunch, too) a few weeks back, and he said that the hardest part of the development work has been producing the complex mold shapes that form each collapsible key. The resulting tablet-with-keyboard reminds me superficially, and pleasantly, of the TRS-80 Model 100. (The Tandy actually had much better battery life than an iPad, but could do far less. It also weighed 3.1 pounds and cost more than a thousand dollars in 1983, which means nearly $2400 today; such is progress.) Prototypes are tight (and I don't have an iPad), but I hope to give an in-person report on the TouchFire soon.
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An iPad Keyboard You Can Type On and Swipe Through

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  • Swiping (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fnord666 (889225) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:11PM (#38280714) Journal
    From FTS:

    the tricky part â" is thin enough to actually swipe through when you're not using it for text-entry.

    From TFA:

    TouchFire is soft and supple if you swipe through it horizontally, so you can easily select the special characters on the keyboard.

    I didn't read anything about swiping when you were not using the keyboard for text entry.

  • OK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arcite (661011) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:11PM (#38280722)
    This is one of those add-ons that on the surface seems clever and useful, until you realize that it would be more of a hassle to use when you need it than if you didn't have it in the first place. Disregarding the fact that putting this on your iPad completely ruins the aesthetic (really? We want our iPad to look like a Tandy?), one would be pulling the keyboard on and off every minute or so. This annoyance is compounded by the fact that the iPad interface is not built around a physical keyboard. So you use this to write a simple email, then you have to rip it off when the screen changes.oh thats annoying. Crapgadget.
  • Buy a netbook (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:14PM (#38280764)

    It amazes me how much crap people will tack on to justify buying a tablet. iPad 2 STARTS at $499, plus all these accessories, and what you've really built yourself is a shitty netbook at twice the price...

  • Re:Buy a netbook (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:20PM (#38280828)

    I don't have one because I don't see the point. If I'm home I use the desktop which is more powerful, has better screen, better input and better software. If I'm out of home I use the notebook. If I want to check something quickly, smartphone. Tablets are too small to use at home and too big to be carried on your pocket. You get worse screen, less software and worse input methods for almost the same size as a much better netbook.
    It could have some use to let it lying on the sofa to check some internet while watching TV I guess but that doesn’t justify that price tag. Tablets are mostly pointless and there are very few people that have real uses for them, I just wonder why everybody is trying to convince us that tablets are good. Marketing does work I guess.

  • by ettusyphax (1155197) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:22PM (#38280850)
    I love how people buy all these hundreds of dollars worth in accessories for their iPad (or what have you) - tactile keyboard, cover jacket that doubles as a stand, extra speakers, a dock for the desktop and a jacket for extra battery life, etc etc. When they probably could have spent less than half that and just got a laptop if that's really what they wanted to begin with. But no, let me just buy into the hype and get an iPad that I have no real use for (not saying there aren't uses) then duct tape stuff onto it until it becomes usable. Ever since the first iPad came out people have been trying to turn tablets into laptops. I'd suggest if they care that much they should get an ASUS Transformer or similar, or hmm, maybe a laptop?

    Also please note I'm not putting down tablets, they're very cool, I have the aforementioned ASUS offering and love it. But I also have a laptop, and I imagine many of these folks do as well if they can afford to throw away cash on pretty toys. Even business users would probably be better served by a Fujitsu or Lenovo convertible. Oh well.
  • Re:Buy a netbook (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:41PM (#38281100) Homepage
    Ehhh, I am anti-Apple and do not have an ipad myself, but it's a fairly slick piece of hardware and I see plenty of people using it extensively in places they wouldn't use a netbook.
  • by Petersko (564140) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:46PM (#38281206)
    You and I will walk down the street. You have your netbook, I'll have an iPad. Then we'll time who can check their stocks and email, or pull up the local map for directions the quickest. Perhaps we'll watch some videos. Heck, perhaps we'll sit side by side on the couch instead of walking down the street. You can put the netbook on your lap and see how much fun that is.

    Of course there's little or no hope of the netbook actually competing because it's not a mobile device. It's a stationary one that is light enough to carry from one fixed location to another, and there's a huge difference.

    I swear you netbook-fixated iPad haters just don't have a clue what a tablet is about, and you're just so intent on not learning. It's the worst kind of ignorance - defiant and purposeful.

    Since I bought my iPad my Asus netbook has languished on the shelf. The only time I use it is when I have to do extensive note-taking. I'm getting pretty good at using the iPad keyboard, so I just might sell the netbook.
  • by Junta (36770) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:53PM (#38281376)

    I can already type very fast on my on-screen keyboard without the need for silly tactile gadgets, and haptic feedback exists for the folks who aren't able to do so.

    I wonder how "very fast" you type and how that rates relative to others. Whether it be that you have superhuman abilities to type faster without this sort of capability or you deem your speed to be 'fast enough', either way there are portions of the population that do either do not have your ability or are not satisfied as easily.

    For one, I need the tactile feedback because the feedback enables me to move with more confidence. Haptic feedback is little more than a gimmick, I need to feel the different keys. Also, I let my unused fingers largely rest on the keys. I can't touch-type on a touchscreen because my stray fingers are constantly triggering stray keypresses.

    I'm still not crazy about this even if it works as designed. Changing between text entry and non-text entry become a bit more cumbersome and it's a switch I make constantly. Laptops continue to be my favored strategy for this and a number of reasons, but the problems they are trying to address are an issue for a lot of people.

  • by Ramin_HAL9001 (1677134) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @11:07PM (#38287600)

    I know tablets are popular, but I don't have one yet because I type faster on real keyboards.

    What sucks even more is that back in 2009, it looked like Netbooks were going to take over. 2 years later, almost all Netbooks are exactly the same as they were back then. No innovation, no competition. The Netbook market died with the introduction of the iPad, even though netbooks are clearly more useful portable computers for people who need to type.

    Now we are stuck with these stupid pad computers and these stupid silicone rubber hacks to substitute a keyboard, and we have to download all of our software from some walled garden.

    Give me a netbook with a fucking keyboard, and let me install my own fucking software. Fuck the iPad.

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