Even when first announced, it would not be properly described as "just" a keyboard. This is from announcement day:
WayTools today announced its TextBlade, with patented MultiTouch Key technology that brings full travel, touch-typing to the iPhone
MultiTouch is the first hint. How many keyboards have thac?
At just 1.5 ounces and 1/3 the size of an iPhone
This doesn't address the desktop usage, but again, how many mobile keyboards are so small and light?
Built with patented, next-gen key switch technology
It isn't described - and people might interpret it as marketing speak, bet "next-gen key switch technology" sure doesn't sound ordinary. And, as it happens, that is real, not marketing speak.
it provides desktop finger-spacing, and full 2mm travel
What mobile keyboards do that?
TextBlade is brimming with advanced technology
Wasn't a lot of detail, but it sure is advanced tech.
A network of 4 computers with 100X the processing power of legacy devices drives advanced software intelligence.
A keyboard with few computers? Even if I don't know exactly how that all works, it clearly isn't just another keyboard!
And precision MagLever mechanisms deliver high-quality key-feel previously known only on desktops.
How many mobile keyboards have desktop key-feel? Now, while they were still promoting it mainly for it's mobility, this was a key statement that made me order it early.
From another release the same day:
The capacitive touch technology that made the iPhone possible is, for the first time, built into every physical key. Row upon row of 70+ plastic legacy keys have been simplified, and replaced by 8 ultra smart keys, powered by software intelligence that discerns user intent.
Don't see how anyone could read that and think there were describing "just" a keyboard.
Even all of the audio controls, and a home button for Siri access are built-in.
Plenty of keyboards have special keys for such things, but the TB has fewer keys and does it.
All large computer manufacturers buy mechanical key switch parts from third party vendors. Not WayTools. The feel of the keys is so central to the satisfaction of typing, WayTools developed them from the ground up. These keys are custom designed and engineered, and manufactured on production lines in WayTools own factories.
WayTools patented a new type of key switch technology called MagLever, which produces a carefully sculpted force curve, superior to any rubber spring keyboard.
Sure sounds like a lot of new tech to me.
Or we can look at the first review:
The first thing that's important to know about the TextBlade is that its design, which is the culmination of years of work and experimentation, has been engineered to be completely different from any keyboard that's on the market today.
They were also promoting it as a desktop keyboard replacement more obviously here:
the company did not set out to develop a keyboard for the iPhone or the iPad, they set out to develop a keyboard that's a better experience, overall, than any available keyboard, mobile or desktop.
A combination of magnets, sensing zones, and custom hardware inside each key allows the TextBlade to determine which letter is being pressed.
Like all those other "just keyboards". NOT.
There are also deeper editing tools and features built into the TextBlade. Holding down on "D" and "F" simultaneously enters an editing mode that lets users move the cursor by word, line, or letter via arrow keys to make edits entirely on the keyboard. Cut and paste tools are built in, as are undo/redo features that make changing and rearranging text a simple process.
How many keyboards do that? Usually you have to move to arrow keys, away from the home row.
Each component of the TextBlade has a built-in computer chip to power the MultiKey and MultiLayer features. The computer chips are networked and connected by magnets, which is what allows the TextBlade to function without any cords or circuits that bridge the different pieces together.
Doesn't sound like the typical keyboard to me.
A lot of data is collected with each key press -- in the screenshot below, an app shows the data that determines the press of the letter, the "U."
I won't include the screenshot, but it clearly shows a lot more is going on than people would normally expect.
Every component of the TextBlade, from the magnets, to the plastic butterflies, to the molds to form the batteries were developed from scratch by WayTools. There's no element of the design that uses pre-manufactured parts -- it's a completely custom build
So not only new technology being used, but their own special designs for things that may exist in other forms. Which means a lot more work to get right.
According to Knighton, there are two milestones with the TextBlade -- typing faster than you can type on an iOS device and typing faster than you can on a traditional keyboard.
How many regular keyboards can do both?
There's a solid "thunk" when pressing down on a key that's very satisfying thanks to 2.0mm travel, and the feel is similar to high-end desktop keyboards.
Who expected a mobile keyboard that feels like high-end desktop keyboards?
The amount of force that is required to press a key can be updated at any time by TextBlade, to meet customer demand.
What other keyboard can do that?
WayTools is planning to release an app, MultiMap, that will allow customers to customize the TextBlade. Users will be able to remap keys, create macros for frequently used expressions or logins, change the language, and more.
How many keyboards are customizable? Especially to the extent the TB is?
WayTools can deliver over-the-air updates to keep firmware up to date, something that's not possible with most keyboards. The TextBlade will have more functions six months after it's released than it does today. For example, one upcoming update will add multi-device support
Note especially that part about multi-device support. Sure, it was supposed to come after GR, but it is NOT scope creep. There would be no reason to not move forward on something which was projected to come just weeks after release when release is delayed for other reasons for so long!
Now, consider all those things and then add in this picture (hope it works).
How can anyone read those things, see that picture, and think this is just a typical keyboard. No, normally seeing a picture like that would make you think it may be cool, but it is going to have massive compromises. But the opposite is more true.