It is JUST a keyboard!

It took me a while. All these discussions about scope creep or feature creep or whatever we want to call it. Delays. Nebulous unknowns. Lack of status updates. Lack of clarity or transparency. People investing money in something and then not receiving it for years while watching some other people get it, rave about it, and talk about how it is likely good enough to ship now.

It took me a while. But I think I’m finally to the point that I can articulate my thoughts on this. I have this one response to thank for my epiphany:

From that post:

“I keep hearing from the TREGGERS that the current firmware WORKS and is stable. I don’t understand why WayTools is delaying General Release for a new firmware upgrade.”

Many of the rest of the TREGers are confused about the current delay. For my part, I’m privy to some things that others outside of WayTools are not, but I’m extremely limited in what I can say about that knowledge. But the quote I gave you above, that gives me a great deal of pause because it is exactly where I was before my last conversation with Mark.

So what can I say to speak to this concern? Again, my apologies, I cannot give you the specifics that would help people to instantly understand.

What I can do though, is to explain why what you have all invested in is not a keyboard. What I’m writing here will hopefully not upset WayTools so much that they would be truly angry with me. Part of what I am going to write is kind of a “hey, you may want to ask for a refund” for some small number of you out there. Which I realize is NOT what WayTools wants, at least not at a high level. But I want to give it to people straight. So if you are interested, read on.

The TextBlade is small. It is portable. It is a keyboard. There already exists small, portable keyboards. At the end of the day, as many people have put it, in many ways, it is simply a device that sends characters to other devices. How hard could that be?

I am hopeful that if people read this entire post that they will see why the TextBlade isn’t just a keyboard, but to be very blunt and very frank: if the ONLY reason you are looking at the TextBlade is to get a small portable keyboard, there are many options already available on the market today. The cheapest one I can recommend is this one from Logitech (the K380):

It isn’t fancy, it isn’t backlit, but it is a great little Bluetooth keyboard. It supports three Bluetooth devices. I used it for years, and at $28 it is a great investment unless you have a TextBlade. If you don’t have an order for a TextBlade, this is a great keyboard. If you have an order for a TextBlade, I would argue that you’d get your money’s worth out of this $28 keyboard even if you received your TextBlade a month from now.

But once you get a TextBlade, there’s no reason to keep using the K380. Or any other “normal” keyboard. Yeah, it will be useful until you get used to the TextBlade. But that transition doesn’t last long. ESPECIALLY if, unlike me, you already touch typed properly before getting a TextBlade!

So all those other keyboards are JUST KEYBOARDS. The TextBlade isn’t “just a keyboard”. But why do I say that?

Why do I disagree with such a basic statement, when, as has been said before - at the end of the day all it does is send typed characters to a device over Bluetooth?

Because the TextBlade is a revolution. It is every bit as transformational as the original iPhone was to the phones that came before. Do you know what android phones looked like before the iPhone was announced?

…just like a blackberry phone. Or the Samsung Blackjack. A keyboard and a screen instead of just a screen. The announcement and release of the iPhone transormed phones forever.

The release of the TextBlade will transform keyboards forever. On screen keyboards will persist, they have a great purpose that won’t go away. But a tactile keyboard will have it’s place for a loooooong time to come. The TextBlade is going to impact all of them.

One of the things I had the hardest time picturing before I got a TextBlade was the “chording”. This isn’t unique to the TextBlade, but it is a true statement that the few places it was used up to now have been decidedly NICHE.The chording is how you end up with the cut and paste working on the TextBlade without any control key on the keyboard, just as one example. I can hold down the D and the F keys to form my “chord”. I can then additionally press the y key to cut. The h key to copy. The n key to paste. Or I can press the j key to move my cursor left. The k key to move my cursor down. The l key to move the cursor left. The i key to move the cursor up. This has all been written about before, so I’m not writing anything truly new here yet.

Remember, the chord I was holding down for all of this was the d and f keys. If I add to these the s key, I am now in a select mode. So the arrow keys I’d mentioned before (jkli which correspond to left down right up) now become a selection. The equivalent of holding down the shift key while using the arrows on a traditional keyboard. But think about this. On a traditional keyboard, to do this, you’d need to hold down a pinky finger on a shift key to get this functionality. Many people do this on their keyboards - they’ve learned how to do it and now have the muscle memory to do it. But I never did. Doing it on the TextBlade is not just doable, not just easier, it is ENJOYABLE! Every time I use this triple chord (sdf) to select text I remember this is an operation I used to grab my mouse for. Instead of using the keyboard, where my hands already were, I would reach for the mouse.

Another example is cursor movement. I have known since junior high that the home and end keys could get me to the beginning of a line or the end of a line. I’ve known since right after I got my first Mac that I could use command arrow to get to the beginning or end of lines or documents. I thrilled to learn that the option key could do the same thing on a mac but with words. But my pinky’s are not dexterous. I could not accurately or reliably tap the control, shift, command, alt/option keys on my keyboards. Further, the manner of accomplishing these cursor movements are different on windows versus the Mac or iOS! The TextBlade makes this all transparent as we end up with a very consistent and uniform way of doing these things on every OS. I literally do not even know how to move word by word in windows on a normal keyboard. I have no idea how to do that, have NEVER done it with a traditional keyboard (I didn’t even know it supported it!), but when I accidentally did the same thing that worked on iOS and Mac to move between words with the TextBlade while typing on a Windows keyboard, it just worked. That’s magic for me. Maybe not for you, but it is actual magic for me!

I’m a programmer and have been since the fifth grade. Programming requires the use of all kinds of special keys that other people get to avoid for the most part. How often do the rest of you use characters like {}&~[]? How often do you use function keys? When I’m writing or editing a program, I use pretty much every special character you can think of. When I’m debugging, I use the function keys constantly. I’ve never been able to reliably hit the function keys with my fingers without looking at the keyboard, moving my fingers and hands completely away from the home position and typing them while looking at they keys and my fingers. On the TextBlade I do all of this without ever looking at my hands or the keyboard.

You can still say, at a high level that even all of this is largely still just keys being sent to Bluetooth devices. The manner in which you can type or do previously difficult operations is, however, transformative.

For my part, I’m used to smaller keyboards being a compromise. Here is one example - a tiny keyboard for the ancient Compaq iPaq PDA:

It was great to have a tactile keyboard, but doing anything beyond the letters was just ugly in practice.

The TextBlade is unique in that it is tiny AND better. It is portable AND an easier typing experience. The TextBlade makes going back to a traditional keyboard actually a downer.

But the TextBlade is a lot lot more than what I’ve written about so far. I don’t see many people acknowledging or talking about the fact that it has multiple COMPUTERS inside it. Today we can see in the companion iOS app, that there is just a ton of extra functionality. One that I didn’t really understand very well before I got my TREG unit was the boundaries. For example, the key for the left index finger has all the following characters printed on it and accessible from that one key:

RT
FG
VB
45
$%
{}

That is just ONE KEY! And it is part of what enables the edit layer with the DF chord I talked about earlier, just as one further example of what this ONE KEY does.

People in TREG seem to move past the wonder of this very quickly. When you step back and look at what the ONE KEY is doing, you can begin to grasp what the computers in the TextBlade are accomplishing while you type.

Each key has multitouch so it can tell where you touch the key to determine which key you meant to type. The “boundaries” for where you can touch to mean the letter R instead of the letter T are adjustable horizontally. Similarly you can adjust where the boundary between the letter T and the letter G is vertically. You can also adjust the timing for things. For example, if I quickly type the phrase “to the” with the default settings, I often get, instead “to5he”. This is because 5 is typed by holding down the space bar and pressing the letter T. So I make it take just a bit longer to get the 5 by adjusting the timing. This way when I quickly type the space, I won’t get a 5 if I hadn’t quite let go of the T key yet.

But it goes way beyond that. I’m not sure what I can say on this part, so I’ll be more general. The TextBlade also has AI in it that is designed to figure out what you meant when you “always” mean to do something different than what you are actually doing. In other words, if the key mapping, when strictly enforced, would issue key “X”, but EVERYONE actually means “Y” when they do that particularly movement on the TextBlade, then it should send an “X” instead of a “Y”, and it does. This is complicated and difficult to get right, but they are doing awesome work here.

I have one example that I think is relevant but possibly too obscure for some of you, so feel free to skip this paragraph if it becomes too difficult to follow. When I was in grade school, I did a report on the Voyager spacecraft. I learned a lot about it, including the fact that my Dad had worked on it. I drew a several foot tall version of it by tracing a projection on the wall and I was super proud of that. Because of this report, I’ve always been interested in Voyager and still follow all the news reports about it to this day. One thing that as a programmer I find ESPECIALLY COOL about the voyager spacecraft is something that I think will make a lot of sense to people if you think about it. These spacecraft were launched in 1977 but were conceived of during the mariner program in the 60’s. As you can imagine, given that the hardware designs of these spacecraft are now nearly fifty years old, it is quite archaic by today’s standards. Most of you have heard of or seen the “JPG” or “JPEG” image file standard. The first version of this compression was established in late 1991, a full FOURTEEN YEARS after Voyager was launched! When you add to that how long ago the hardware and software of the Voyager spacecraft were finalized, there were nearly two decades between them. The primary advertised mission of these spacecraft was to take photos of the planets in a sort of “grand tour” of our solar system. The point I want to make is that when the Voyager spacecraft were launched, we didn’t have the technology we do today. If we could go back and launch them with better cameras or sensors we’d love to do that because believe it or not, they are still flying and still sending data back to Earth. They are man made objects that are further from earth than anything else, and BY FAR the furthest man made objects. Long after they were launched, we WERE able to upgrade them by sending software updates to them to allow them to compress images in ways we didn’t even know how to do when the spacecraft were launched. As a result, they were able to take more photos and send more of them back to Earth. I can already hear people screaming “SEEEEEEE!!! They were able to update the software after they launched the spacecraft!!! The TextBlade can do the same thing!!!”. What is important to understand here is that the hardware and the software in the voyager spacecraft when it launched was polished on a level that is hard to overemphasize. It was ABLE to be patched and updated like it was because of the quality of what it launched with. People generally don’t realize how frequently other countries launch spacecraft that are never heard from again, that fail before ever arriving at their destination or fail in their missions due to design errors. The US is of course not immune to such mistakes, but we tend to be more successful than anyone else in these space endeavors. By laying the foundation at the time we launch a spacecraft, we can then supplement it after launch. TextBlade needs the same thing - a safe and reliable AND expandable foundation from which to achieve a long life of amazing updates that we didn’t even conceive of before it launched.

The TextBlade is decidedly NOT a set of “on/off” switches. Other keyboards ARE. Open up any traditional keyboard and at the core, each key has a single switch. That switch is either off (when you aren’t pressing it) or on (when you are pressing it). Those switches are very simple, and that simplicity is the reason it is so easy to say about the TextBlade: “How hard can this be?!?!? It is just a keyboard after all!!!”. Not so. Not so by a long shot.

Investing in the TextBlade is an investment of innovation, of transformation, of a revolution. And maybe those are not the things you signed up for. Maybe what you signed up for was “just a keyboard”. I submit to you that whether you REALIZED at the time you placed your order that you were investing in a revolution, that you were participating in a transformation, that even back then, it was true. So I say again, with fervor, with excitement! With zeal and all the energy I can summon:

IT IS WORTH THE WAIT!!!

And yes, it is overdue. But hang on, it is so much more than you realize.

-Verxion

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Verxion,

As irritated as I continue to be about the lack of real communication (What are gating factors? Estimated timing of these factors?) your posts actually drive me in the direction of wanting to order a second unit. I’ll likely use it as “just a keyboard” for a good while, but the excitement you seem to possess about this has me contemplating because I just KNOW, I KNOW, that others will want one after I start using one.

As always, though I’m not always happy about it, thank you and all of you TREGgers for posting your thoughts based on real-world use.

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This is just two layers you are talking about here. This quickly becomes 4 if you include Shift for letters and numbers and symbols.

Then there is another 8 individually mappable layers. That means 48 additional keys/actions available for the one finger to actuate.

Try and put this in perspective.


This keyboard has 39 buttons on this layer of it and I have to do a bit of stretching to get to all of them. On TextBlade they are all so close to access.

TextBlade means that my hands and fingers aren’t floating around the whole keyboard making me often look at where my hand are and have to go.

TextBlade changes everything.

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Thanks @gmadden - I think if you read that pet again you can probably see what I’m about to describe. I started out making a simple point. Then I added some more detail to demonstrate that it went further than I had shown. Eventually I realized that I could go all in on this one fact but it was just a single point in an entire post I wanted to make so I cut myself short. :slight_smile:

Thank you for calling this out - having it as a comment here shows that extra detail without derailing the entire flow of the original post (which is what I was trying to avoid. :wink:)

-Verxion

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My intention was to provide support to your statements. Hopefully that’s what I achieved.

While I have always been interested in hotkeys and shortcuts, I never had any particular pull towards learning about keyboards and the intricacies of switches or layout.

Then came WayTools with their TextBlade.

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Maybe I better throw in something because I suspect any newbies here may be reading about using one key for infinity+1 purposes and think that will be really too hard to learn!

It isn’t. You take it in pretty straight-forward steps. The first one is just getting used to the feel, since some may have to adjust to the angle and everyone will have to adjust to the shorter reaches than on regular keyboards.

So, start with just typing the letters and, assuming you use qwerty, the basic punctuation of comma, period, and single quote. You might also add another couple basic ones that are quite similar to a regular keyboard. These would be adding the shift key to get a question mark, double quote, and a couple others. The point is, for this first step, nothing is out of the ordinary other than general feel because of the size. You can get a ton of stuff done with just that.

Step 2: Numbers gave me trouble, being on the green layer as well as being closer (closer is good, but I wasn’t used to it). But I always had to stop and look at keys on a regular keyboard because of the stretch so this wasn’t a big deal in those early days. But once I got used to that, numbers are far easier on a TB because they are so close. And the same applies to many other symbols that are on the green layer, but so much easier to reach.

Anyway, in two steps, I was doing almost all of what I needed to be able to do and even the first step did most of those things. More than enough to make me feel I didn’t want to use a regular keyboard anymore.

The next step can vary. Some may need to use symbols that are less common and, in a few cases, are more complicated to access (not just green layer, but shift/green).

But for me, they just weren’t something I normally needed. So I focused on things I really didn’t think I’d be that involved with - like using the keyboard instead of the mouse to get around in editing. I don’t do all the things the TextBlade allows, but what I do do is really useful. It was all gain. I could have gone on using the mouse and lost nothing. I almost never jump by word, or by paragraph, etc. I mostly just move or select by line or character. Someday I may make it a point to do those other things and it will be even better. Heck, I normally don’t even use their cut/copy/paste stuff. I’m just used to the traditional oa-C, etc, so even though they are not as well structured than the TextBlade way, I’m simply used to them.

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The first couple of days with TextBlade I still relied on the regular keyboard for things copy, paste and typing passwords while my muscle memory was getting used to the new actions.

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Entering my windows password at work was an actual impossible feat for me to begin with as I had no idea how to enter the sequence “control-alt-delete”. So during the three or four days that I couldn’t figure that out I was actually pretty upset at the TextBlade. Once I knew how to do it (and as it turns out, WayTools improved it based on my feedback!), all was right with the world. :slight_smile:

-Verxion

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How do you enter control-alt-delete?

I know I am being negative and whinny and apologize but. I don’t know how you can state that when you don’t have any idea how long the wait will be. I believe that general release won’t happen for another 12 to 18 months. What is your guess?

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On the default QWERTY map it is
ZXC together for Control and Alt
Hold down space to get the Green layer
Press backspace (on the Green layer, this is forward delete)

On my custom map, I have this combination on the Function layer.
KL Home (left of A).

Both of these options I can do faster now than I ever could with a regular keyboard.

Thanks!

I do NOT think it will be this long, but it is my opinion that even if they took another three years it would be worth the wait.

As for my GUESS as to how long? Not this year obviously. Next year. When next year? I don’t know.

-Verxion

I think this “is it worth the wait” stuff is not as obvious as some think it is. For any given individual, it all comes down to whether they want to risk their money or not rather than whether the TB itself is worth a long wait. It may or may not be “worth the risk” of your money. I can’t answer that for anyone. But I can answer the issue of whether the TB itself is worth waiting for.

Let me give a different example. The first passenger flights took place in the early 20th century (around 1914). Now, let’s supposed no aircraft company thought their passenger plane designs were ready. For year after year. Let’s say they decided they weren’t ready until 1930! Would we say airline travel wasn’t worth the wait? Of course not! We might say it should have been ready sooner, but it would still be worth the wait.

To me, the benefits of the TB is like that on a smaller scale. I have never heard of any keyboard that is this small, this light, works with as many devices (switching easily) that also feels this good to type on and gives you other advantages (better editing control from the keyboard and major customization abilities and macros). Whether WT thinks it is ready to ship now doesn’t change the benefits coming, just like with passenger air travel.

Barring something better (which no one has even heard a hint about), it is such an improvement in keyboards that it is, in fact, worth the wait (even if I wasn’t in Treg). I can’t imagine, if it shipped years from now, that I would say, “It wasn’t worth waiting this long so I’m not going to buy one”.

Certainly folks who have paid $100 will not be happy with such a long wait. Neither would I. But the TB is still worth waiting for, even if you opt to cancel and order again when it actually ships.

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On the topic of “ordering when it ships”…

I’ve been burned sooooo many times on Kickstarter by companies having their product be widely available on launch day (in which case, what benefit did I receive for ordering early?!?) or ACTUALLY HAD THEIR PRODUCT AVAILABLE TO OTHER PEOPLE BEFORE MY KICKSTARTER SHIPPED… that I’ve all but sworn off on these kinds of things.

To give you an idea, I used to do a minimum of five kickstarters a year, one year it was more than ten. But I haven’t don’t a kickstarter in more than three years now (though I did recently have one ship that I had ordered before I stopped doing them).

…and yesterday I bought two more TextBlades.

This is an amazing product. All the normal rules kind of break down in the face of something so revolutionary, at least for me.

-Verxion

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I am so glad that TREG participants like you are enjoying your Text Blades, and that they are your preferred keyboard (not just for mobile applications).

This gives me hope that Waytools will eventually deliver on the order I paid for.

That is why I have not, and will not request a refund.

What bothers me is the disdainful and disingenuous treatment I have received from WayTools. They promised to deliver and have failed for 4 years.

Lest you TREG participants berate me for my point of view, let me be the first to acknowledge that the ONLY thing that will make me happy about this situation is to receive my TextBlade. I know that their estimates can not be trusted, and that the rewrite of the firmware will take at least another year to debug.

In the meantime, at least I have fun stirring the pot here on the forums…

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Interesting that you BOUGHT two more TextBlades yesterday, did you perhaps mean that you ordered two more. If you bought them what about those of us who have been waiting since February of 2015 for the first one we BOUGHT. I understand that all the people in Treg are happy to have their TextBlades I only hope I live long enough to receive the one for which I have been waiting.

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I don’t get Treggers…on one hand, it’s amazing! Life changing! Paradigm shift! Definitely worth the wait!

On the other hand, basically making excuses for Waytools not shipping a product after 4 years. I think I even read on here, he’d wait another three years, wow this thing is that good, he’d wait three more years. It’s that good already!!! Ship it, I’ll roll the dice, and take my chances.

One more thing about Treggers, it’s my opinion that the early adopter gift should be membership into TREG. Duh.

Happy Turkey Day!

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It means he ordered two more. He’s been talking about this, right here, recently - that he was so impressed by what he learned from Mark about 11 days ago that he expected to order more and thought, when others learned the same info, they may find they want to increase their orders too.

Yep, it is confusing. Just as the things Verxion has been saying sounds terrific, yet none of the rest of it knows what it might be about! We do know him though. Including the fact that he was being rather critical of WayTools before that call. So if he has changed his attitude, that means something.

I tried to explain the seemingly contradictory statements by using passenger airlines as an example - that even if that came many years later, ic would still be “worth the wait”. I think that may well apply to everyone who, if it had shipped when originally expected (but without the bugs), would have been happy with it. Of course, no doubt there will be some who get it, don’t instantly adapt to it, and give up so I’m not counting them. They will always exist no matter how good it is. The only other exceptions would be those who are just so mad that they refuse to ever use it even when it is available, but that would not be because of the TB not being worth it!

I think that leaves us with the question really being, “Is it worth letting WT keep our money this long” and risking whether they go out of business (which would likely mean you wouldn’t get your money back). And that risk is a trade off with - if you cancel until it ships, you are back on a longer waiting list and you lose the free benefits (like multi map) and the gift (which you don’t know what it is and not even Treggers know how it changes depending on how late you order). For example, I ordered March 9, 2015. Will that get the top gift? I don’t know.

As for “making excuses”, no, that isn’t even close. We do pass on what we have learned, which includes a decent amount of understanding of how hard this is. I’ve given a lot of details. I’ve also pointed out what I do NOT know. For example, I know some of the problems testers have reported. I do not know how widespread they are. Nor if they are something that WT is having trouble solving. I certainly know of many things they have solved, but they don’t tell us everything and there are only a portion of Treg testers even on Slack so we sure don’t know where experiences.

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