Hands-On: Typo iPhone Keyboard
Updated: Fixed a... yes, typo.
Typo created a keyboard accessory for the iPhone that gives people a physical set of keys to press rather than glass. We took the Typo for a short spin to see how it compares.
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Not all keyboards are created equally. BlackBerry has long been known in the mobile industry for its excellent hardware smartphone keyboards. Apple may have changed the tide with the on-screen typing experience, but there are still some people who want to type on real keys, and not a piece of glass. Ryan Seacrest, of American Idol fame, is one of those people. He's the angel investor behind an accessory company called Typo. Typo developed and is releasing a physical keyboard for the iPhone to give people that real-key feel.
The accessory is similar to a snap-on case or battery. It has two parts that slide onto the iPhone, providing both a case and the keyboard. The keyboard doesn't dock with the iPhone's port. Instead, it uses Bluetooth to connect to the keyboard. Even though it fully encircles the iPhone, there is an opening that permits access to the Lighting port and headphone port, so there are no worries there. The case as a reasonably good feel, but it's nowhere close to being as strong as an Otterbox or other robust case for the iPhone.
The keyboard itself strongly resembles that of a BlackBerry. In fact, the keys have the same scalloped shape that the keys on a BlackBerry do. BlackBerry created the scalloped shape years ago, and the Typos looks and feels similar. Each key has a slight slope, angled toward the center of the keyboard.
The overall feel of the keyboard is good, but doesn't quite replicate the experience of devises such as the BlackBerry Bold or Q10. The keys feel cheaper, and the travel and feedback isn't nearly as good. That's not to say it is awful; it's decent, just not great. Among the pros, the Typo keyboard has backlighting, which makes it easy to see and use in the dark. Among the cons, it is cheap-feeling, and adds a lot of bulk to the otherwise sleek and slim iPhone.
For those who absolutely need real keys to type on, but want an iPhone, the Typos works. It's not the best experience, but it is an acceptable experience. The Typo sells for $99.
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Now I see
Exhibit B - BlackBerry Q10
Exhibit C - BlackBerry keyboard patent
Admissible argument - date of (C) precedes application and invention of (A)
Admissible argument - date of (B) release precedes release of (A)