On June 17 2015 I ordered my TextBlade and now I am facing a new year 2021. Will this really be the sixth year of waiting for my keyboard or will the lord or better your company bless me with this long expected item. In the mean time I changed all of my phones, iPads computers and name some more, but you did not change anything. So I end with big sigh.
I’ve been watching lots of projects on Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Some are good, but most have serious flaws you’ll only find by owning them or if you are fortunate enough to encounter a truly in-depth review.
A maker of a really nice USB PD brick does an awesome 65W charger. Their follow-on product, a 100W charger, took longer than expected to make, but they solved a lot of engineering issues. It would have been really nice, but the factory substituted in an older chip unbeknownst to them, causing a nightmare for MacBook Pro users who use 100W. Also, something few would notice: unlike their 65W charger which doesn’t power-cut when you plug in a 2nd device, their 100W one does, making it unsuitable for powering a tiny Cube PC.
A maker of probably the nicest battery/inverter in the 1kW+ range. It does great on almost all fronts, but a review finds that the battery charge indicator is a guesstimate instead of a Coulomb counter, and this affects accuracy in high-draw and low-draw situations. It was great on every other front. But if you think about it, if you’re in the market for a 1kW battery/inverter, how happy would you be if “high-draw battery life estimate” wasn’t accurate?
Aforementioned tiny Cube PC: great value, ultra portable at 127g, and reasonably fast considering it is smaller than a baseball. Its flaw? The fan is on/off, and it cycles all the freakin’ time. It is irritating for those who prefer quiet work environments. All they had to do was use PWM on the fan (and some hysteresis algorithms on temperature readings), but hey, they sure shipped that one fast. Oh, and the “USB C style” power port doesn’t actually take USB PD. It just uses the port but with a dumb power brick that only outputs 12V. Good thing I don’t have kids in the house who play around with stuff - they plug its brick any USB C 5V device and they’ll fry it. I ended up soldering in my own USB PD chip to make it compliant. And then I’ll have to toss its power brick or cut off its plug and use it for something else if I ever have the PC in a shared space.
TextBlade is great. It is really different, and the constraints are exceedingly hard to meet, in hardware and in software. And they really do have to get it right. That is what distinguishes it from the many, many other keyboard projects.
At US$99 (or less in a SixPack) I believe is also the best value. Most custom keyboards start at that price, and they use conventional switches you can buy anywhere. I think we both agree TextBlade is not conventional.
Conventional keyboards are everywhere. Suffering the same conventional problems. I think the world has had enough of RSI, of bulky heavy keyboards, of keyboards that can’t stay connected, of keyboards that squeak, of keyboards that only work with 1 pairing, of “portable” keyboards that stretch every definition of “portable”.
It’s like, I can find a feature I like in almost every keyboard that sells. But I can’t get all the features in one keyboard. And then I run into TextBlade, and they include features that I never even knew I wanted.
It will ship. This product is too good not to.
A lot of people waited a very long time for Tesla to ship cars in commercial quantities (i.e. not the initial Roadster). And probably every few weeks they introduce production line changes that improve all their current cars. But with a $35K (minimum) vehicle there is some margin for customer support, for having service shops in major cities. Waytools doesn’t quite have that luxury for a $99 product. And FedEx charges, what, $20 each way (I don’t know)?
I’d call it unbelievable. And since they talked about the price going up on new orders when released (I think price of $129 was mentioned), I’d still consider it a steal.
While it is certainly true that some people may want a separate one for each device (for example, I’ll just leave one with my desktop and carry another for any time I need it for my phone or tablet (or even connect to a friend’s computer), the point is, the many possible pairings combined with the extreme portability really means you can get by with just one keyboard. And that has the added benefit that you aren’t adjusting to different keyboards. That’s actually a pretty big deal.
That’s been my experience too.
In principle, I agree, but there are no guarantees. At different times I was almost positive (nothing is ever 100%). Other times I’ve worried, but still thought it would ship.
If there is an issue with the lawsuits, anything can happen.
It is a fantastic device though. I’ve written over the years about all the great stuff - and some of the negatives (typically things that only affect special needs cases). But I’ll point out that the typical user is going to have to adjust. And in just one way it might be a bit more challenging than the usual adjustment process. This is because of the combined key caps. It is simply more obvious what you are hitting when each character is on a separate key! There have certainly been many times I was sure I hit the right place, only to find out that that I didn’t!
And this also means if you are used to typing in one position, if you change it, you may have more errors. For example, when I was typing over 70 wpm at 98 or better accuracy at home, when I’d take it to the Apple store and had to stand to type, everything felt a bit weird, of course. So the first stuff I’d type would be pretty sloppy. But got much better after a minute or so. Now that I’ve done that a lot, I start out much better. But I suspect such a drastic change would have a similar effect with any keyboard.
I still have a couple keys that I tend to miss more than I like, but, first, I don’t really approach things as carefully as I used to. Second, I don’t actually practice anymore. Third, all the advantages more than make up for these issues so rather than practice them, I just accept them. For now at least. Fourth, they happen to be where I can’t make adjustments at this time (supposedly more adjustments are coming so that alone may solve the problem, practice or not)!
The established players don’t want to be disrupted.
Apple was once different. They realized that the best way to not get disrupted - was to do it themselves… and Steve Jobs went right on stage and even celebrated it when they killed off the iPod mini at its height of popularity, and replaced it with iPod nano. And what price!
Not today. The Apple of today solders in RAM and SSDs on MacBooks. Of course they make up a really great (and in their view, believable) story on why they pull such dirty moves.
Karma has a funny way of giving you what you deserve, if delayed a few years. When they were bold and innovative, years later they would reap the reward. Steve Jobs watched his shares go up in multiples that are best expressed in exponents.
Today, they stifle innovation. They could make better machines, but don’t believe in themselves anymore. They don’t believe that if they make great machines, that their muse is around the corner with more ideas. So they sandbag instead.
History repeats itself. They made Mac, they changed the world. They got fat and lazy, you could hardly read news on “Apple” without the prefix “beleaguered”. They got back to making great products, and changed the world again. And now they are in the other cycle.
People may argue, “but… M1”. That is 1 item. Every “revolutionary product” is a combination of many things.
Well, today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class. The first one … is a Widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second… is a Revolutionary mobile phone. And the third… is a breakthrough internet communications device.
So… three things: a Widescreen iPod with touch controls, a Revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough internet communications device.
An iPod. A phone. And an internet communicator.
But these days?
Friend: hey, my iPhone (X) doesn’t support quick charging.
Reply: Oh, you don’t know about that bug? Yeah, you sometimes have to reboot the iPhone before the (Apple) USB C to Lightning cable provides quick charging. Otherwise, mine actually does slow charging, at 5V 1.5A (7.5W) instead of even regular charging (12W). But once you reboot it, you’ll get the double charge chime and it should be at 18W (9V 2A).
And they say they’re going to do self-driving. Riiiiiiite. Let me just reboot my car while the 18 wheeler screaming down the highway is about to do me in.
I don’t agree with all of that, though I certainly don’t buy Apple’s claims about always putting the customer first!
A lot of this stuff isn’t actually new either. I mean, we often hear about how “it was different under Jobs”. With that in mind, consider your example of the iPhone (X) not supporting quick charging, etc.
But it was way back with the iPhone 4 where the antenna issue got the response from Jobs himself: “Don’t hold it that way”. Which is okay, but NOT when the way it was being held was the most logical way to hold a phone! That doesn’t even count what was actually a more serious, but not talked about much, problem with the same phone for months where the screen would turn on while on a call and let pour cheek disconnect calls, etc!
I agree that TextBlade is a new technology and delays are more than common in these cases, but for me the problem here is the try to maintain hype. This product is about to be released for 6 years, it’s not really normal.
Right now the forum movement and WT communications are too small, too cold. Does this project even have pulse?
I personally want to see the end of this trip. I know there are great advances but not sure if they got more that can handle.
True hope is not misguided. Humour me on this, forgiving that I am not qualified to comment on life:
Hope springs from our actions, and from our character forged by adversity. Through persistence and vision we practice “what ought to be” until it becomes skill, ability, wisdom and humour, and then it becomes reality.
In spite of our ever increasing awareness that animals are so very similar to us, having similar emotions and ability for intelligence, that we are given the gift of being able to will something into existence. Not merely small tools, but grand, grand sweeping notions. We can reshape the earth to be the best planet in the universe, or the worst. There is no limit but out hearts, minds, and compassion. We can stop war and starvation and murder and injustice - if we only chose to do so.
For practical purposes of not trying to boil the ocean, we should understand what adversity is, and to do so we need the context of purpose, goals and values. These ought to be internal, as opposed to externalities such as the stock market or who is in power.
Regardless of what station in life we occupy, there are always challenges to overcome. I hazard that as our ability improves, so do the challenges. The universe wishes us to evolve beyond simple base creatures who simply exist. Adversity is the opportunity to exercise our grit, humour, creativity, collaboration, kindness, compassion. When we succeed we can finally rest, knowing that death cannot rob us of our accomplishments. “We have nothing to lose.”
Why such a diversion on a “keyboard forum”?
Every aspect of our life is reflection of the whole. All parts involve us. Therefore our character and values defines how everything goes.
Having values allowed Elon Musk and others, to turn their vision of electrifying the transport grid, to weather the adversity of incumbents who punished him for every good deed. (Sure, he is human and gets angry or makes silly mistakes too.) Atop that came challenges of unprecedented engineering and manufacturing scale, and the faith that “about 1% profit” would be enough to carry on - even though he clearly came close to bankruptcy so many times.
For him and his team, we have the 2nd coming of the electric car. And the 2nd Space Age. It is truly a pleasure to see these coming to fruition. And to think he was so broke he considered offering to sell Tesla to Apple.
It wouldn’t be such an inspiring story if the adversity and challenge didn’t resonate with all of us. I’m not a “car person” but that kind of story would get me interested in a car company. Perhaps I have been negligent: transportation is one of the basic needs. It’s nice that we can calculate how wasteful the old way was, and verify that the new way would be better. It’s downright inspiring that someone actually willed the new way into existence. The early adopters ought to give themselves a pat on the back for taking a chance with a company that was cursed countless times by an unsympathetic press that it “was doomed to fail.”
And isn’t communication and computing, also now a basic need? Isn’t it what allows us to exist and our society to not implode despite an unprecedented series of events in 2020?
The pen is mightier than the sword. But the internet, and the democratization of technology, mightier still.
And what a marvel it is, to be able to watch a team will a new and less wasteful keyboard into existence?
On scales both small and large, indeed we have much to hope for.
Today, January 20, 2021, it’s been six years since I ordered my TextBlade.
As I recall it, Waytool’s web page did not say pre-order, but order. I thought it was in production.
I thought it may take up to two weeks or so for shipping before I had it in my hand.
Then Waytools said they found a hardware issue, and that they wouldn’t start shipping until March. I got a little disappointed that I would have to wait for two months instead of two weeks.
Then they informed their customers on more problems, this time with the software. It sounded that it would be quickly solved, but time went by. When more than a year had passed, I thought that at least I must get it within two years.
Years went by, and I thought that I would get it within two two-year periods.
More years went by, and I still haven’t got it after three two-year periods.
I work as an electronics designer, and I also do some software development. I know delays in projects are not unusual. Sometimes it’s caused by things out of your control, sometimes by your own mistakes, but often a combination. I have worked in projects that got severely delayed, like half a year or so. That’s embarrassing.
But six whole years!!! For a keyboard!!! Ok, not an average keyboard, but a more advanced keyboard, but it’s still a keyboard!
When Waytools decided that they are production ready, what was that decision based on?
In recent years Waytools have promised status updates “within a few days” several times. But no status updates were delivered.
How should they be able to deliver keyboards, when they can’t even deliver the status updates that they promised?
I’m certainly disappointed in the delays, but it is really hard to explain that it isn’t as simple as saying that, yeah, it’s advanced, but still just a keyboard. But I’ll try as best I can, obviously only having a fraction of the info WayTools has.
So I’ll focus on the fact that thery are 3-6 different areas of each key. While it may seem easy to just divide it up into equal segments and be done with it, that simply doesn’t work. In fact, I think this has been one of the really big challenges.
When typing on traditional keyboards, it is relatively easy to know where your fingers are hitting. But in transitioning to the TextBlade, there were many times where I sure I hit the key correctly, but got another character on the keyboard. Let’s say, for example, I want the H, but get the J to the right of it on the same key cap.
Well, assuming I was able to stop right when I missed it, so my finger was still in position, I would move it more to the right (without actually looking) - and STILL get the H. So I’d move it further, but with the same result. Finally I’d look down and see that the finger was, even after moving twice to the right, was still right over the H! IOW, it was my error, made possible by the fact that it is naturally a bit harder to tell when you hit the wrong key.
Of course, vertically, you also have less distance than on a regular keyboard, which magnifies the issue. This is, in the big picture, a good thing since cutting the vertical distance is a very important part of the comfort of the keyboard and reduction in RSI issues.
But it is a tough thing to solve. As I recall, the keyboard does not just determine you hit a certain spot, but does something where you can actually hit a key wrong and it can still tell what you wanted (in some cases). Never understood that process though.
Even ignoring that, there is the fact that there are a lot of differences in how people type, even if they all are using all fingers in the traditional way. Not just different size hands, but differences in relative length of fingers on a hand, or how a finger may angle or twist differently for different people.
I think this turned out to be a much bigger set of variables than WayTools expected until Treg got started.
You see, from what I saw of reported problems during Treg, generally they were fixed pretty quick. I think, when doing their own testing, they had the same experience. But with a more limited number of testers, they solved them. Then Treg starts and with so many new “hands” on the keyboard, more of these issues were found. No, they weren’t the only issues, but they were a sizable chunk of reported issues.
I think that is partly answered by what I wrote above. They did think they were about done. But the quickly fixed problems kept having new examples that needed fixing. I just don’t think they thought it would be that hard to put an end to them. Then when Treg started, remember they said something about if no problems showed up, it would last 2-4 weeks (I think) and then they’d hit GR. But we just revealed the problems they thought they had finally solved weren’t solved yet!
They have said something about the new firmware needing to be as good as the final version of the old firmware, but since they knew there would still be problems (because all tech has them), they needed to be able to handle them efficiently. But with the storage memory all filled up, they not only had to rewrite sections where the problem was, but also rewrite other parts that were working, just to make room for the necessary fixes. Of course, any rewriting can create a new problem.
Don’t know why the rewrite is taking so long though. Especially since I think it’s been over two years since they said they had over 90% parity. Of course, that’s a good reason for an update!
It’s a given, however, gonna state that the rest is solely my opinion. It’s my concerns regarding the TextBlade. And hey, at this point I’m obviously sticking with it whether it ships or not.
Given the advances in technology during the past 6 years alone (forget the years leading up to 2015 during which fully functional demo units were created), it wouldn’t shock me if someone with enough know-how AMD time could kluge together a DIY TextBlade by ordering components from SparkFun and/or Mouser, plus have a substantial start on the coding portion from freely available material all over GitHub.
To be clear, in no way am I suggesting any one even think of doing this + it wouldn’t reach the goals for which WayTools is aiming. The point is hardware technology and accessibility to OT has changed drastically, nearly exponentially year over year.
Coming from a software developer of many years & weekend hardware geek, it feels like six+ years is quite a long time for a fully dedicated team to create, at its heart, a streamlined, portable version of the decades-old chorded keyboard.
Yes, this is the world’s first keyboard completely of its kind; however, it can’t be anything on the level of coming up with and implementing all pieces necessary to create the world’s first smartphone circa early/mid 2000’s… unless there is quite a lot of info I’ve missed.
And releasing a future-proof, perfect product on the first go round? Maybe this made sense in 2015 when there was already physical hardware and it seemed like a few software revisions would wrap it up. In 2021… ?
I doubt if I’m alone in asking to please give us the option to receive the current TREG model + dropping the option of replacing it instead of cancelling our order. I’d bet most everyone would be more than satisfied with a product in their hands.
The other critical area which bothers me is communication. It was always concerning and is becoming even more so each month. With a large number of initial orders and a large percentage sticking around for years… it’s an head-scratcher why taking aside 30-60 minutes a week, or even month, to write a brief state of the union update is so difficult. I understand the inclusion of full details, given my time working with hardware, but 99.9% of the time all we need is a paragraph or two of high-level info.
Everything I mentioned has been said countless times. I suppose this was more for me to expound further on posts from years back.
Hopefully we’ll see the TextBlade and see it soon.
I doubt it. Oh, I think someone might be able to create a, relatively speaking, standard keyboard (that is, “normal” keys) but which only had 3 rows and used all the chording, etc, that the TB offers. Maybe some other changes from “normal”, such as the keys being closer together vertically.
Compared to the TB, I think it would still be inferior (even if ignoring the greatly reduced portability). But compared to standard keyboards, I could see it being far better since it would still greatly limit the stretch for keys.
I don’t think anyone could do the basic TB design without a massive effort. The touch issues are just far more complicated than people realize. I don’t know if I can explain it well, but one example I ran into was about the boundaries on the keys. These are very important for adjusting to different typing styles (aspects of “style” that people don’t even think about on a regular keyboard, like how your fingers naturally angle for example - we are all different).
Well, we started off with a low number of boundaries we could change. Later we got more, but we are a long way from being able to adjust every boundary and I still have two I’d like to have for sure!
So I asked about this. Seemed pretty straightforward. Just create more which would, supposedly, only entail some simple adjustment in where a finger will active one character or another.
Except it isn’t that simple. I don’t know all the complications, but I was specifically told it wasn’t that simple. That changing the settings one one boundary had other effects with other boundaries. So for each one, it wasn’t just about changing one thing.
On the plus side, as I recall they have said they were satisfied with how the old version worked and the goal was to get the new, rewritten, firmware to be as good. I have no idea why it is taking so long. Oh, I know it is a huge project, but the rewrite has been going on for years. I think once they said it was at 90% parity and in another case they said over 90%. But both of those statements were a very long time ago!
If the TB never does reach GR, I know I’ll be looking for something I can program chords and layers into and only “need” 3 rows of keys. If it has more keys, I’ll use them for special things - especially things that maybe I want access to using one hand. And I’d love it if it could pair to 6 or more devices like the TB does.
I already have thoughts about that, but i’m too lazy for starting this trip, make a something really close to WT design is time cosuming but not too difficult to obtain based on actual hardware one can buy. Change one or two concepts and this can be done.
Of course this not will be a TB, not the quality, not the testing and fixing not the full usage experience, but a homemade keyboard that remembers a TB can be done.
But thinking on a commercial project the work to be done is more than mix the pieces and release there is a lot of finetunning different locations, different usages, different machines to interact with a lot of cases to review. All things that you can fix on the testing stage will be better for the product in the commercial stage, nevertheless the problems I think the TB project is facing right now are not purely technical.
One area, where change over the past few years has been substantial, which might have changed things is memory. Physically reduced size, reduced cost and increased speed would seem to suggest easing of many of the constraints which have been talked about as creating difficulties.
While battery tech seems to move rather slowly, perhaps there has been enough to make the needed difference for more memory. Or, more possible, that WT has made other improvements to use less power. I’m pretty sure they have made comments to that effect.
Sure wish we would get some kind of possitive news. Heck, any news at this point!
Having now built a device that demands low power draw, every milliwatt-hour counts. If you can do the same thing with half the RAM, you get a better experience. For the phone, it means a thinner, less costly, lighter phone. Globally that adds up to a few coal plants that don’t ever need to be built. Fuel that never needs to be burned in a transport jet.
Some people don’t care - likely the people who “can’t see past the end of their nose”, to quote Mary Poppins.
But some people do, and their products win. Other products die a death of a thousand cuts. One large electronics manufacturer just quit making phones 2 weeks ago.
If I were a guessing person: RAM is not the underlying constraint. Complexity is. When a system encompasses so many things, it is hard for one person to know all of it. Think: there is not a single human being on earth who can completely recreate the entirety of iOS from scratch. Not even a crackshot team could do it today. If it were possible, you’d know. There is billions at stake. It’s iOS or Android. That’s it.