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Input Devices Cellphones GUI

6 Smartphone Keyboards Compared 161

Barence writes "A debate that crops up time and again is whether it's better to have a dedicated keyboard on your smartphone or whether an on-screen keyboard with text correction is adequate. Some phones with screen-based keyboards have started to provide tactile feedback, either using an ultra-quick spin of their vibration alert or, like the BlackBerry Storm2, using clever piezo-electric technology to simulate the feel of a button press. But which system works best? PC Pro's Paul Ockendon gathered six of the most popular handsets around and put them through a timed typing test to see which proved quickest and most typo-free."
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6 Smartphone Keyboards Compared

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  • Debate (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @03:38PM (#31429806)

    What debate? You're telling me that there are people who seriously prefer to *not* have a physical keyboard on their smartphone?

  • Swype. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Karganeth ( 1017580 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @03:41PM (#31429848)
    I downloaded swype for my Nexus One and haven't looked back. It's so much faster than the old virtual keyboard for "hunt and peck". The videos of it don't do it justice. It's much easier and faster than the old ways.
  • My $.02... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sootman ( 158191 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @04:20PM (#31430348) Homepage Journal

    I've owned two Nokias with physical keyboards (6800 and 6820) and a BlackBerry (Curve 8330--not the best) and an iPhone, and I prefer the iPhone's virtual keyboard by far. Not so much for speed, though some basic testing by me shows they're all comparable, but for ease. The 6800 [htmhell.com] is large with plastic between the nicely-rounded keys and it's very easy to hit the right one. The 6820 [juliepenner.com] is a bit smaller but the keys are also nicely rounded and typing on that is pretty easy. Both also have dedicated buttons for numbers and some punctuation--hyphen, comma, period, slash, single quote, and more are all primary buttons. Their layouts also closely mimic a PC keyboard with comma, period, slash, semicolon, quote, and equals in roughly the same spots as on a regular keyboard.

    The BlackBerry's keys are smaller and closer together and firmer than either Nokia and I find I've got to press on them with a thumbnail or the bony part of a finger to get them to register and not mash more than one key at a time, and there are no number or punctuation keys AT ALL [wordpress.com] which makes typing just about anything quite a pain.

    The iPhone only shows letters or numbers/punctuation but since it's virtual the secondary and tertiary buttons are big and easy to find, not like the tiny glyphs you get from sticking two images on one physical key. But the thing I like most about virtual keys is that it only takes a very light tough to register a press, and the clickable area is very large, so typing with the biggest, roundest, softest part of your thumb is a cinch. And because of this, it is by far the easiest to use with one hand. (Though the split-keyboard Nokias are pretty much out of the running in this area, but the BB is similar in size and shape.)

    But anyway, that's just my experience and preference. All that matters is what works best for you.

  • by Hodar ( 105577 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @04:44PM (#31430676)

    All virtual keyboards are NOT created equal.

    One of the primary differences is the backing material of the touch screen. The cheaper phones utilize a plastic backing on the touchscreen, this plastic will bend, warp and cause 'typos' even if your finge is precisely where it's supposed to be. Glass does not flex, or warp - but is more expensive. This is why the iPhone gives such a superior performance on the virtual keyboard, as they have a glass backing.

    I think many of the problems with virtual keyboards is due to the cheaper touchscreens utilize the flexible plastic backing behind the flexible membrane - thus adding distortion to the pressure point matrix - resulting in typo's that are indeed the "phone's fault".

    It would be interesting to see this sort of study conducted with external keyboards, virtual (glass) and virtual (plastic) keyboards.

    I'm switching to the Droid for the option of not only abandoning my cheap plastic backing on my touchscreen LG Dare; but also because I'll have the option of the slide out keyboard.

  • by Ma8thew ( 861741 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @05:39PM (#31431368)

    They take up half (or more) of your display!

    Yes, but generally smartphones with an on-screen keyboard have a display twice as big.

"My sense of purpose is gone! I have no idea who I AM!" "Oh, my God... You've.. You've turned him into a DEMOCRAT!" -- Doonesbury