Why the delay
After seven months of use, I'm finally giving my impressions as a TREG participant. I have to admit, I delayed responding initially because I had some frustrations and wanted to be sure I had given the TB a fair trial before simply throwing out criticisms that may have had more to do with me than with the TextBlade.
Initial impressions in retrospect
I received my TB in mid-May. I was very excited to try this new portable keyboard, especially with multiple devices and with considerable travel planned for the rest of 2018.
I had the extensive introductory call from Mark explaining many things about the TB, its technology and features, etc. Although the call lasted a considerable time, I found all of our conversation to be very interesting, but then again, I get into the technology aspect of things. As many have reported before, the TB is much more than a portable keyboard. And after this much time, I try not to use any other keyboard for my various devices. I use it on an iPhone, iPad, and a MacBook Pro.
Early on there was a glitch where the TB produced stray characters. After determining with Mark that there was a hardware problem, they quickly exchanged it for a new TB that has worked without a glitch.
The need to adjust
In my case, unlike others, using the TB required significant adjustment to the new keyboard. First, having been a touch typist for four decades, and a Dvorak typist for almost three decades, I was quite accustomed to the amount of finger travel on a typical keyboard. From the time I learned touch typing in high school, I had learned to float my fingers above the keyboard and was proficient at knowing exactly where to bring down my fingers. I do a lot of typing in my occupations. My typing speed was in the range of 90-95 wpm.
That process of floating my fingers allowed me to type with fingers fairly flat extending quite straight toward the laptop. (I used an external keyboard with the laptop resting on an elevated stand. I found the external keyboard to be more comfortable and the elevated laptop to be more ergonomic than typing on a laptop keyboard while looking down at the laptop display.)
So, when I started typing on the TB, I had all kinds of problems. Because of the short finger travel, finger placement has to be fairly precise. You can't float your fingers over the keys. It's too easy to hit a boundary between keys resulting in many typos. I have had to learn to type with my fingers curled so that the finger tips are close to vertical. If you look at your fingers extended, the finger tips form an arc. But when you curl your fingers, the finger tips line up in a straight line. As a result, with vertical fingers, the finger tips line up well with the home row.
Once I became used to the vertical fingers on home row, two things happened. First, I began to get, and continue to develop a feel for the recessed round depressions on the home row. As you become accustomed to those recesses, it helps you to reset to home row when you notice a lot of typos and realize your fingers are off home row. So, those depressions are a real help.
The second result I still am adjusting to. When you become accustomed to the short finger travel (and that is a very pleasant thing) I find there are certain key combinations that become problematic. I have trouble where the fingers have to reach sideways. I have trouble with the index fingers hitting the keys in their parallel columns. Likewise with the pinky fingers. That's where my typos are the worst. I don't extend the pinky fingers far enough to the outside and the index fingers more easily touch the columns in the extended position while straying from their proper home columns. It is taking a concerted effort to extend the pinkies while reining in the index figures.
Learn to extend the pinkies, learn to hold in those index fingers so they do not stray into their extended position. You have to be deliberate about this until you develop new muscle memory.
As I am typing this, I realize it goes better when my fingers hover (ever so slightly) over the keyboard, but only a little bit of hovering.
A suggestion for the Textblade app
The app allows adjustment of the boundaries for certain key combinations. The app needs to have more combinations that can be adjusted, especially for the keys that have six positions, i.e. the keys for the pinkies and for the index fingers. Currently, only certain of the combinations can be adjusted, but not all. Making the boundaries adjustable via the app, has been a great help, but I know that I, for one, need to be able to adjust more boundaries. It is on the keys for pinkies and index fingers that I make the most typos.
For me, adjusting my style to the TB has required commitment. Will new customers after General Release have that patience and commitment? That's hard to say. For me, I knew I would be committed and the effort has paid off. As I said earlier, this has become a joy to use. I use it as often as possible because it is so preferable to using a laptop keyboard or on-screen keyboard on the iPad or iPhone.
A problem WT already solved
When I received my TREG, it came with two nano stands, a regular stand and the XL stand. As it turned out, the XL stand had more room to slide over the folded TB while the regular stand was a little snug. As I understand it, WT has redesigned the tight nano stand so that it now has a looser fit.
About five or six weeks ago, one of the rubber pads on the bottom of the space blade began to peel off. WayTools sent a replacement and via phone walked me through the procedure to replace the pad. It requires a steady hand, but can be done by the user. The new nano stands have more space to slide the stand over the folded TB, so I don't expect this to be a recurring problem in the future.
One solution I have found helpful: i cut squares from very thin paper (I used a paper receipt from a pump at a gasoline station). I place the paper squares/rectangles on top of the rubber pad on the top key blade and another square on the bottom side of the space blade so that the stacked blades slide into and out of the nano stand quite easily, yet not so easily as to fall out. Insertion and extraction are much smoother now.
In writing this, I have had to make many corrections because of the above referenced problems with index fingers and pinkies. Nonetheless, I would not want to go back to a legacy keyboard. I am hopeful the app will be developed to allow boundary adjustment to more keys. And I still need to train my pinkies and index fingers to behave. So, I am quite optimistic that the typos will all but disappear in the future.
The Ideal Mouse
The thoughtful development of this keyboard makes me look forward to the "mouse" that WayTools is planning and that is being discussed under the topic "The Ideal Mouse WishList". I currently use a Swiftpoint GT mouse. I have no plans to upgrade to the ProPoint mouse because I am confident the WayTools solution will be much better and more portable.
If you have questions or comments on my experience, be sure to ask. I'll be happy to respond.