Hands-On With the Collapsible Magnetic 'TextBlade' Keyboard for iOS Devices

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Apr 12, 2001
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Back in January, WayTools, a company known for its high-quality NextEngine 3D laser scanner, surprised the world with a collapsible, magnetic keyboard unlike anything we had seen before. Called the TextBlade, the keyboard garnered a significant amount of attention from the media and from prospective buyers who were intrigued with its unique design.

Commenters here on MacRumors and across the Internet were immediately curious about the TextBlade, and had several questions. How does it work? How easy is it to use? What's the learning curve? How does it feel?

Today we're going to answer all of those questions and more. Yesterday, WayTools invited MacRumors to visit its headquarters in Santa Monica to get an exclusive hands-on first look at the TextBlade. We met with WayTools CEO Mark Knighton, and a group of engineers who helped develop the product to get details on how it works and to try it out for ourselves.

Design

The first thing that's important to know about the TextBlade is that its design, which is the culmination of years of work and experimentation, has been engineered to be completely different from any keyboard that's on the market today.

According to Knighton, the company did not set out to develop a keyboard for the iPhone or the iPad, they set out to develop a keyboard that's a better experience, overall, than any available keyboard, mobile or desktop.

Portability is one of the key qualities that dictated the design of the TextBlade. The team at WayTools firmly believes that an accessory designed for the iPad or the iPhone should be smaller than the device itself. The TextBlade is approximately 1/3 of the size of an iPhone and it weighs an ounce and a half, so it's barely noticeable in a shirt or pants pocket.


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Article Link: Hands-On With the Collapsible Magnetic 'TextBlade' Keyboard for iOS Devices
 

jclo

Editor
Staff member
Dec 7, 2012
1,666
3,343
California
If anyone has questions about the TextBlade, feel free to ask. I spent a few hours meeting the TextBlade team and typing on it yesterday afternoon.
 

Asthmatic Kitty

macrumors member
Sep 29, 2014
78
15
I have a question - what the hell was that shot at the end of the video where it drops into a jeans pocket? were they trying to make it look like bad CGI?
 

fiveainone

macrumors 6502a
Sep 16, 2011
761
76
If anyone has questions about the TextBlade, feel free to ask. I spent a few hours meeting the TextBlade team and typing on it yesterday afternoon.
How many mistakes did you make when typing one letter but ends up pressing the letter next to it? From the video it seems like it's moving two keys at the same time or something..

Also how does it feel compare to the full size Apple flat keyboards? Typing same speed? more careful?
 

Kariya

macrumors 68000
Nov 3, 2010
1,820
10
Nope.

The new MS keyboard is far more appealing. I want a keyboard not a scrabble tray.
 

neilw

macrumors regular
Aug 4, 2003
235
151
New Jersey
Guys, what's your deal - is this an advertisement or reporting?
I am generally weary of seeing this sort of complaint on tech web sites, but I have to say that the writing of this particular article really bothered me. So much of it sounds like it was straight out of the company's marketing materials, and then at the end there's even a recommendation that it's a good purchase despite the fact that Juli didn't spend long enough with it to achieve fast typing speed. I expect better from MacRumors.

That said, this is certainly an interesting little gadget. I will look forward to a real, multi-day review, where the reviewer spends sufficient time to find out what can really be achieved with it.
 

osaga

macrumors 6502
Jun 11, 2012
454
170
There are people who have ipads who no longer use their laptop. I don't get those people. They're not techies, they're not programers, they find computers frustrating. They're not going to know how to update drivers, downsize photos for emailing etc. and so iPads are a joy for them. For me ipads are a slow inefficient way to do many things, but make great portable devices. The text blade looks to be a very very well thought out product. If I typed on an ipad while sitting at a table I'd buy it.
 

jclo

Editor
Staff member
Dec 7, 2012
1,666
3,343
California
How many mistakes did you make when typing one letter but ends up pressing the letter next to it? From the video it seems like it's moving two keys at the same time or something..

Also how does it feel compare to the full size Apple flat keyboards? Typing same speed? more careful?
I didn't have that happen at all, even though I was new to the keyboard. There are eight total keys, each of which has multiple letters. Sensors underneath each key determine where you're hitting on the key to type the actual letter so you're not hitting multiple letters even though they're all on the same key. It seemed pretty accurate, I had zero instances where I got a mistyped letter.

It actually felt fairly similar to the full sized Apple keyboards because the key spacing is the same and so is the amount of force that it takes to press down a key.

It definitely felt better than a lot of the mobile keyboards I've used. Most of those shrink the keys together so there's not a standard amount of space between the keys. And on most of those, you're not really getting the same key feel as you do on a desktop computer. The keys on the TextBlade were really solid.
 

wilhoitm

macrumors 6502
Jul 22, 2002
396
336
Thanks for a good, detailed review (great mix of description, pictures and video). It looks pretty cool and I'll be interested to give it a try. It looks like this group tried to think of every little detail, which is nice to see.
Can I use this TextBlade keyboard with the Apple Watch? That would be awesome. I think?
 

QuarterSwede

macrumors G3
Oct 1, 2005
9,412
1,469
Colorado Springs, CO
For those of you who haven't heard of this thing before don't dismiss it so fast. It's an evolution of the keyboard and it's brilliant. If it works as well as its designed to it'll be more efficient and therefore faster. Plus it's crazy small.
 

KrakaJap

macrumors member
Jul 10, 2008
81
10
If anyone has questions about the TextBlade, feel free to ask. I spent a few hours meeting the TextBlade team and typing on it yesterday afternoon.
You said tap on the spacebar/battery to release the sub charging chip thing. What exactly do you mean by tap? Will this thing simply fall out if jostled around too much in your pocket? Or does it take a good bit of force to remove it? Or is it like some microSD slots that are push button released? I pre-ordered one of these a while back and should receive it early next month.
 

usersince86

macrumors 6502
Oct 24, 2002
377
750
Columbus, Ohio
Honestly, this looks very promising, and it's nice to see something that's truly innovative.

Good luck! Not sure I'll be buying one, but it looks pretty cool.
 

Arcady

macrumors 6502
May 24, 2002
402
24
Lexington, KY
This is the hokiest looking keyboard I have ever seen.

My iPad keyboard case uses no room at all, besides making the ipad a little fatter, and it is instantly available when I open it up. And it costs less.

And how long til Blackberry sues them for making a keyboard?
 

Felix01

macrumors regular
Oct 22, 2008
163
82
If anyone has questions about the TextBlade, feel free to ask. I spent a few hours meeting the TextBlade team and typing on it yesterday afternoon.
How do you type special characters like a degree sign or an umlaut?
 

Liquorpuki

macrumors 68020
Jun 18, 2009
2,286
8
City of Angels
Unless you need to carry a keyboard in your pocket 24/7, I'd just get the MS Foldable one

Same price and you don't have to play legos everytime you need to type something
 

amirite

macrumors 6502a
Aug 17, 2009
878
692
Guys, what's your deal - is this an advertisement or reporting?
There's no way they'd go into this much detail (with so much praise) about a third-party product without being paid to :rolleyes:

MR should make it clear that this is a paid advertisement.
 

jclo

Editor
Staff member
Dec 7, 2012
1,666
3,343
California
Guys, what's your deal - is this an advertisement or reporting?
Obviously an advertisement, this might be the longest post I've seen on Macrumors. Good review though, at least it's in-depth.
I am generally weary of seeing this sort of complaint on tech web sites, but I have to say that the writing of this particular article really bothered me. So much of it sounds like it was straight out of the company's marketing materials, and then at the end there's even a recommendation that it's a good purchase despite the fact that Juli didn't spend long enough with it to achieve fast typing speed. I expect better from MacRumors.

That said, this is certainly an interesting little gadget. I will look forward to a real, multi-day review, where the reviewer spends sufficient time to find out what can really be achieved with it.
I want to make it very clear that this is in no way an advertisement. WayTools did not pay us to do this post. None of our posts are advertisements. Ever. We don't work that way.

I spent many hours with WayTools employees yesterday, watching them type on the TextBlade, typing on it myself, and looking at each and every component that goes into it. I spent time learning about the way that it works, the effort that went into it, and what you're able to do with it.

I was genuinely impressed. I'm not out to deceive anyone or parrot marketing materials. WayTools is doing something with keyboards that no one else is doing and a lot of what they're bringing to the table in the TextBlade objectively innovative.

Pointing out that I didn't get to use it for a long period of time is a very fair criticism of this post. I had a limited amount of time to type on it, but I will say that I felt my typing speed improving over the course of an hour and I extrapolated from there. I also talked with employees who had been using it for months and months on end and observed them typing on it -- they were fast.

I didn't just blatantly say this is a good purchase, and I didn't base it on my results with typing speed -- I said it's worthwhile if you're looking for something portable and if you're willing to try a new experience. I think this holds true.

By the way, for anyone who purchases the TextBlade, either based on this post or just because it looks interesting, there's a return policy. You can send it back if you don't like it.
 
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