It's been the better part of a week now with the TREG TextBlade so I thought I would post an update about my experiences. The short story is this keyboard is a total joy to use, feels great and I believe WILL become your go to device for all your text entry needs.
The longer (much, much longer) story is below.
When I first found out about the TextBlade way back in January 2015 I thought it was cool enough that I had to have one but had concerns with it's size and configuration. With trepidation I went ahead and placed the order. After 5 days with the TREG TextBlade, I can honestly say I had NOTHING to worry about.
I am probably considered larger than average - I'm 6'3" tall, about 235 lbs and have rather large hands, at least larger than most others that I know. I had concerns that it would be difficult to use the TextBlade because of its size. The TextBlade is probably the most compact keyboard I have ever seen or used. The most surprising thing is that even though it is small, it doesn't FEEL cramped. With the TextBlade, there is very little finger movement required to reach the different keys. This will most likely help reduce or eliminate Repetitive Stress Injury. I say most likely because I'm not a expert in RSI.
The other surprising thing about the TextBlade is that the keys don't have the side to side offset seen in almost every other keyboard and this feels totally right. The offset, along with the standard QWERTY layout, are holdovers from the old manual typewriter days that were designed to actually slow the typist down so that the mechanical arms wouldn't jam. This isn't required with the TextBlade and as a result, you can type quicker and with very little finger movement.
The TextBlade is a multi-touch device, similar in many ways to the touch screens on most modern smartphones. These screens are able to identify touch points from multiple fingers and so can the TextBlade. But the technology in the TextBlade is so much more advanced. The TestBlade can not only distinguish the mass of your finger, it can also distinguish touch from only a fingernail (something your smartphone screen can't do). If that were all, it would still be incredible but there's more. Because the TextBlade is multi-touch, it can also distinguish which key you touched, no matter if you are fully on that key or are touching multiple keys. The technology inside is capable of determining what key you intended to press with such accuracy that it's almost like its reading your mind.
Needless to say, ANY fears I had of not being able to use the TextBlade because of large hands have been totally alleviated.
I am NOT a fan of ergonomic keyboards, the ones that have half the keys angled or swept one way and the other half angled another like the Logitech Desktop Wave or the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic keyboards. Because of this, I had concerns that the TextBlade keys are divided and sweep away at an angle.
Again, with the TextBlade, I don't seem to even notice the angled keys. Everything just feels normal.
Touch Typing & The Learning Curve
I have been using computers in one form or another since I first became aware of them back in the 1980's. WAY back then, my math teacher received a Commodore PET computer and several of us young minds were hooked. We learned how to program it so that it would display some silly ASCII graphics animation. At that time we used Basic. Mr King, our math teacher, was fascinated that we actually used our spare time to learn enough Basic programming to write the program to make the ASCII animation. That was the start of a life long interest in these wonderful machines. In all that time, I never actually learned to touch type properly. I started out with the two finger hunt and peck method and over the years kept adding other fingers into use. I guess you could say that I taught myself to touch type, which is sort of true, but I KNOW that I am not doing everything right.
That being said, I am probably as quick as some other touch typists, and after several days with the TextBlade, I don't feel I am much slower than I would be on a regular keyboard. Touch typists shouldn't have any trouble gaining their speed back as the become accustomed to using the TextBlade. It is quite possible that they may even get faster.
There is a learning curve to the TextBlade, but it's more learning where the different symbols are located. Because of the smaller number of keys, the TextBlade has multiple layers which are accessible by pressing and holding down either the SpaceBlade (space bar) or a combination of several keys. Learning where all the symbols and other functions are located will most likely be the longest part of the curve. But learning everything at once is not required. You can use the
TextBlade out of the box as a simple keyboard.
I have never learned where all the symbols are located on z regular keyboard and always had to hunt & peck for many of them. I still have to do this with the TextBlade but I am learning where more and more are located. They keyboard layers are arranged in a quite logical manner. And if your logic is different, you can re-arrange where keys are located on the various layers. I haven't reached the point where I want to make layout changes but it's nice to know that if or when I do, I can.
Usage & Testing
Windows - Distinguishing Between Left & Right Alt
A forum user had asked to test left & right Alt key functionality within Windows. It seems like it depends on which keyboard type you have selected. With the US English keyboard selected, it is just plain Alt on the SpaceBlade hot corner or either left or right Alt chord.
When I select an international keyboard, the hot corner seems to be deactivated on the SpaceBlade but using the Alt chord on the left key blade gives left Alt and using the Alt chord on the right key blade give the right Alt.
So, it seems there are enough smarts built in to distinguish which chord you use IF the keyboard selection requires it.
Battery life on the TextBlade is impressive. I believe the TextBlade arrived fully charged and it lasted for about three days with regular use. I didn't use it as my only keyboard simply because my work computer doesn't support Bluetooth LE.
I have ordered a compatible Bluetooth adapter so that I can use it as my only keyboard and will report more on battery life letter.
The nanocharger for the TextBlade is located inside the SpaceBlade. With a light tap against your hand, the nanocharger pops about half way out of its storage compartment. You simply pull it the rest of the way out and insert it into any USB port or wall charger you have available. The SpaceBlade then attaches magnetically to the nanocharger and begins to charge. This is an ingenious system for charging. Storing the nanocharger in the SpaceBlade makes it available wherever you are and need to charge but the nanocharger is so small, it could be quite easily forgotten.
One thing I did notice about charging is that the SpaceBlade needs to hang from the nanocharger. I say it needs to hang because that was the only way I could get it to charge. When I tried laying it on top of the USB charger, it didn't seem to connect properly. I will have to experiment further and maybe ask waytools and other TREG testers for clarification, but this could be a minor challenge, especially if your USB charger is plugged into a power bar that doesn't hang from the wall.
I think I've gone on long enough for one post; I've probably gone on long enough for several posts. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. I may not have the answer right away, but I will try my best to answer and other TREG testers on the forum may chime in with their experiences.
Typed on a TextBlade